Nearly half of all NFL teams will have a Black starting quarterback to kick off the 2023 season.
Fourteen Black quarterbacks are projected to start in Week 1 this year, breaking the record of 11 set last season. It’s the third time in four years that a new high mark has been set in the category.
The Week 1 starters are: Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Geno Smith, Desmond Ridder, Joshua Dobbs, Justin Fields, Jordan Love, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.
The record represents the marked change in feelings about race and racism in the sport. For the majority of the sport’s history, Black athletes were either discouraged from playing the position or forced to change positions as they advanced to higher levels of play.
This year, the Ravens have what is thought to be the first and only all-Black quarterback room in NFL history. Jackson, who became the league’s second unanimous MVP in 2019, leads the group with backups Tyler Huntley and Josh Johnson. Tee Martin is the QBs coach and Kerry Dixon is the assistant QBs coach.
Last February, Mahomes and Hurts made history when they became the first two Black men who started at quarterback in the same Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history.
“There probably are a variety of reasons, probably none of them good,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell when asked by CBS Sports at the Super Bowl why it took 57 years for it to happen. “Because the reality is there’s such great talent at that position — Black and white. And I think I was talking to Doug Williams about this last week, the pride that he has in seeing the advancements. … our quarterbacks in general, that’s the field general.
“People talk about their talent and their ability to run but they are incredible leaders. They understand the offense. They run complex offenses, probably more complex than we’ve ever run in the past. And they really add such an element to the game. And I think our game has changed because of their talents. And I think the game has changed on the college level also to develop their talents earlier. And that’s true for all QBs. I just think it’s another example of where diversity makes you better.”
The 2023 NFL Draft marked the first time in league history Black men were selected as the top three quarterbacks taken in the draft. Young, Stroud and Richardson were all named captains of their respective teams heading into this season.