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Deadspin’s Big Book of Black Quarterbacks Gives HBCUs Their Due

Tennessee State’s Joe Gilliam was a man before his time. (Deadspin photo)

In honor of Russell Wilson becoming the second black quarterback to win the Super Bowl on Sunday, Deadspin’s Greg Howard put together an all-time list of black quarterbacks in the NFL. As you would expect, a good percentage of these quarterbacks hailed from HBCUs.

The highlight HBCU-wise was Howard’s passage on former Alcorn State star Steve McNair. Here’s an excerpt. 

“A lot of individuals are responsible for the acceptance of black quarterbacks in the NFL, but HBCUs offered structural means of development and advancement. Without HBCU success stories like McNair’s, it’s hard to imagine the likes of Cam Newton and E.J. Manuel getting the opportunity to quarterback two of the most storied college programs in the country.
Of course, this came at a cost. The black quarterback stigma was bad for football in general, but very good for the HBCUs. Today, the stigma is fading, and as a result the talent pool available to small schools like Alcorn State and Grambling State is thinning. The last quarterback to be drafted out of an HBCU was Tarvaris Jackson, out of Alabama State in 2006. But even he was an Arkansas Razorback before becoming a Hornet.
McNair set a lot of records in his illustrious career. The longest lasting of his distinctions will almost certainly be as the last HBCU quarterback taken in the first round. This carries the same sort of conflicted emotions stirred up by the Negro leagues. There’s something bittersweet about the demise of the HBCU quarterback, even if it represents significant progress.”
Good, thought-provoking stuff.  The entire piece is definitely worth a read.

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