As Super Bowl 50 approaches, we will take a look at some of the significant performances from former HBCU stars in the big game. There is no better place to start than in 1988, when Grambling’s Doug Williams, of the Washington Redskins, led his team into Super Bowl XXII against the Denver Broncos, led by John Elway.
Williams, was the first black quarterback to start in a Super Bowl game. In the week leading up to the game Williams was repeatedly asked about the implications of being a black quarterback in the Super Bowl.
One reporter even asked “How long have you been a black quarterback?”
In the beginning, it didn’t look like Williams was going have a long history in the game. Early in the first quarter he went down with what looked to be a serious knee injury following a sack. Williams had to leave the game. And not only was Williams hurting, the team was taking a beating. Elway, the future hall of famer, was hot, and the Broncos lead 10-0 after the end of the first quarter.
However, Williams may have been down, but he was not out. He returned to the game, and then he simply went off.
Williams connected on touchdown passes of 80, 50, 27 and eight-yards during the second quarter onslaught. Timmy Smith ran 58-yards for another score. Washington scored on all five possessions.
Williams was the catalyst of a stunning, 35-point second quarter, that left the Broncos dazed.
Washington cruised on home in the second half, securing a 42-10 victory. Williams finished the game completing 18 of 29 passes, for 340-yards, and four touchdown passes. He won the quarterback matchup against Elway, a battle many felt would go Denver’s way.
It was a gratifying performance by Williams, who was selected with the No. 17 pick of the 1978 draft by the Tampa Bay Bucs. He dealt with the racism and stereotypes that came with being a pioneering quarterback, in addition to a family tragedy, the death of his wife in 1983.
However, Williams managed to persevere through it all and emerge a champion.
Check out the NFL film interview that documents his NFL journey.