When you look at the NFL of old, especially at the quarterback position, you would think of names like Elway, Marino and Montana. But today’s game has been revolutionized and the proof is in the pudding. Five out of the top seven quarterbacks in the NFL are African-Americans. Coincidence? I think not. The NFL hasn’t been this exciting since the early 90’s with the likes of Jerry Rice and company. It surely has something to do with the way the position has blossomed and to be more specific, what doors it has opened for duel-threat quarterbacks.
Why the prototypical quarterback has evolved
The NFL has clearly started noticing an upward trend of African-American quarterbacks coming through the NCAA pipeline, which means we live in a different world today. Twenty years ago, coaches would tell Black quarterback hopefuls to switch positions; that they weren’t the “prototypical” quarterback.
Today, that has changed immensely with the two highest quarterback salaries going to Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson at $45 million and $35 million respectively, and three quarterbacks primed to cash in and reset the market (L. Jackson, D. Prescott and D. Watson).
What does this mean? It means that coaches and scouts have quickly started to realize that the game has gone in a different direction – the ‘Hybrid’ quarterback. Run N Gun. We’re seeing a lot more African-American quarterbacks in high school and college programs and that wouldn’t have been true just a few decades ago, and it’s thanks to guys like Mahomes, Wilson, Prescott, Jackson and Watson that those possibilities have come to fruition. They are champions, masters of their craft and truly polarizing figures. We can’t forget guys like Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick, who played pivotal roles in the evolution of the quarterback position.
Getting to know the NFL’s future at the position
Whether you’re a hardcore fan or maybe just a casual viewer, you know these names. With 14 Pro-Bowls and 2 Super Bowls between them, there’s just no argument here, boasting impressive career quarterback ratings (Prescott-97.0, Watson-101.0, Wilson-101.2, Jackson-104.7, Mahomes-108.9).
This is only the icing on the cake. They’re dominating the league and it doesn’t look like the train is slowing down. Russell Wilson has been one of the top quarterbacks in the league since being drafted 75th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 NFL Draft, making it to two Super Bowls and eventually coming out on top with a Super Bowl ring.
Dak Prescott has taken over America’s team while earning AP Offensive Player of the Year, AP Rookie of the Year, 2x Pro-Bowls and two division titles. Deshaun Watson is arguably one of the best deep ball throwers in the league and is as clutch as a Ray Allen buzzer beater. Let’s not forget Lamar Jackson, who is the most electrifying player at the position since Michael Vick. And last but not least Patrick Mahomes, the world’s richest athlete and defending Super Bowl champ.
The NFL has made a shift in the biggest way imaginable, giving hope for African-American children with quarterback aspirations all over the world.
Still, as of 2019, 70% of the players in the NFL are Black yet only 25% of quarterbacks in the league are of African-American descent. Those numbers just don’t add up for me. We still have a long way to go, but there is surely a silver lining to all of this. It’s having the quarterback of the most storied and polarizing franchise in the world (D. Prescott) be of African-American descent. It’s seeing Cam Newton walk in the endzone like a superhero and put a smile on a child’s face. It’s witnessing Patrick Mahomes lift that Lombardi trophy. Maybe it’s having Kyler Murray go first overall in last year’s NFL Draft, but regardless, all of these things prove that clearly the quarterback position has evolved, and for the better.