Now, that may not be significant to some, but it is damn sure significant to others.
That is especially so when you consider the history of the Super Bowl. Sunday will mark the 50th game, which means there have been 100 starting quarterbacks. Newton will be only the sixth who is black. It took 22 years before Doug Williams made history by becoming the first black quarterback in Super Bowl XXII (1988). It didn’t happen again until Steve McNair appeared in 2000.
However, in recent years there has been a surge of black quarterbacks.
Newton’s appearance will be the fourth consecutive year a black quarterback has started the Super Bowl.
Seattle’s Russell Wilson started the previous two (Super Bowls XLIIX, XLVIII) winning one and losing one. Colin Kaepernick was the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in 2014 against Baltimore.
From there you have to go back 10 seasons (2004, Super Bowl XXXVIII) to Donavan McNabb, who was at the helm for the Philadelphia Eagles against New England. In Super Bowl (XXXIV) McNair led the Tennessee Titans to within a yard of forcing a possible overtime with the St. Louis Rams in 2000.
And in the most famous Super Bowl appearance ever, Williams blew away future hall of famer John Elway and the Denver Broncos, throwing four touchdown passes as Washington blew away Denver, 42-10.
And to think, there was a time when the sentiment was that black quarterbacks didn’t have the necessities to play the position.
In truth, they simply did not get the opportunities to play the position because of the ignorance, and sometimes pure racist intentions, of those men who ran pro football teams in the past.
However, playmaking quarterbacks like Wilson and Newton have knocked that door down. They have demonstrated the ability to play the position from the physical standpoint (throwing from the pocket, making plays out of the pocket) and mental standpoint, (reading defenses) and the intangibles, such as leadership.
Perhaps, one of these days a black quarterback starting in the Super Bowl won’t be such a big deal.
But for now, at least for some of us, it still is.