Patrick Mahomes realizes his unique pairing with the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl LVII could cause some controversy. The Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller pointed it out on Thursday when asked about the first Super Bowl that will be started by a pair of former Big 12 quarterbacks – Mahomes from Texas Tech and Hurts from Oklahoma.
“First, the SEC is going to be mad because Alabama tries to claim Jalen as well,” Mahomes said, “so they’ll be a little angry about you calling him a Big 12 quarterback.”
But there’s a historical significance to the Hurts-Mahomes pairing that goes well beyond which conference they came from: Super Bowl LVII will be the first NFL championship game in which both starting quarterbacks are Black.
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“I think it’s history,” Hurts said on Thursday. “I think it’s something that’s worthy of being noted. It is history. It’s come a long way. I think it’s only been seven African American quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl, so to be the first for something is pretty cool.”
The African Americans who have been starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl include:
· Doug Williams in the Washington Redskins’ 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII on Jan. 31, 1988.
· Steve McNair in the Tennessee Titans’ 23-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV on Jan. 30, 2000.
· Donovan McNabb in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX on Feb. 6, 2005.
· Colin Kaepernick in the San Francisco 49ers’ 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013.
· Russell Wilson in the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014, and 28-24 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, 2015.
· Cam Newton in the Carolina Panthers’ 24-10 loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016.
· Mahomes in the Chiefs’ 31-20 victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020, and 31-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 7, 2021.
“To be on the world stage and to have two Black quarterbacks start in the Super Bowl, I think it’s special,” Mahomes said. “I’ve learned more and more about the history of the Black quarterback since I’ve been in the league, and the guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this, and now I’m just kind of glad we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now. …
“I think you’ve seen over time whenever you’ve seen a guy like Doug Williams or Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb go out and play great football, it gives other guys like me and Jalen chances to have this platform and have this spot on an NFL team. If we can continue to show that we can consistently be great, I think it will just continue to open doors for other kids growing up to follow their dreams and be a quarterback of an NFL team. It’s good that we have guys like Jalen on the other side because he’s a great person and, obviously, a great quarterback.”
Hurts detailed some of the quarterbacks that had served as his role models.
“I think anyone like Mike Vick, Cam, Randall Cunningham, McNabb,” Hurts said, “all of those types of guys are guys that a lot of young kids looked up to, a lot of young black kids as well — Steve McNair, all of those guys.”
McNabb was a six-time Pro Bowl selection with the Eagles, and Vick also produced a Pro Bowl season for Philadelphia. Now Hurts is a Pro Bowler for the Eagles.
“Those are guys I watched as a kid and looked up to for a long time,” Hurts said. “Now to have them here kind of blazing their trails and trying to create new ones, those are guys I have a lot of respect for.”
When the Eagles and Chiefs square off on Feb. 12, Hurts will be the seventh-youngest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl. Hurts is 24 years old, and with Mahomes at 27, they’ll form the youngest starting quarterback pair in Super Bowl history.
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Hurts and Mahomes will form another sort of quarterback pairing in Super Bowl LVII. They’re both former Texas high school stars – Mahomes at Whitehouse and Hurts at Channelview.
“To have this stage to show what Texas football is all about,” Mahomes said, “I brag to all my PA guys because they claim they have the best state in football because of the history. But I’m like, ‘I’m talking about the present.’ And I think Texas has it going right now.”
Hurts said Texas high school football is where he first heard of Mahomes.
“You had the Texas high school football late night show, and it runs throughout the whole state,” Hurts said. “And you’d see what he’s doing to East Texas. You have Houston, you have Dallas, you have San Antonio, you have so many areas. At Whitehouse — I think he went to Whitehouse — he always was lighting it up over there, so always had a lot of respect for him and always was kind of watching him from afar.”
Mahomes stayed in state to play his college football at Texas Tech. Hurts played at Alabama for three seasons before transferring to Oklahoma for his final college campaign, setting up the Big 12 connection for Super Bowl LVII.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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