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From halftime to MVPs, Black history is part of the Super Bowl

The Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes matchup on Sunday is just one of many Super Bowl firsts.
Photo illustration: Collage with photos of Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes and the Lombardi Trophy.
Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts and Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes are making history Sunday as the first Black quarterbacks to face-off in a Super Bowl.Lauren Schatzman / NBC News

Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs will make history Sunday when two Black quarterbacks face each other in a Super Bowl for the first time. If Hurts leads his team to victory, he will be the fourth Black quarterback to do so, following Washington’s Doug Williams in 1988, Mahomes in 2020 and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson in 2013.

Only eight Black quarterbacks have started a Super Bowl — with racial stigmas against Black quarterbacks dating to the 1950s that suggested they lacked the intelligence or the skills to successfully play the position. 

The league has also had to grapple with the lack of Black coaches and figures in leadership positions, and its failure to institute policies to break these barriers. Last year former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL, the New York Giants and other teams alleging racial discrimination in hiring coaches. According to a 2022 Washington Post series called “Black Out” that examined the lack of Black head coaches in the NFL, while approximately 70% of players in the NFL were Black, only 11% of full-time head coaches since 1990 have been Black. The report also found that Black coaches were most likely to serve as interim coaches, with those teams usually being a bit disorganized before they join. 

Here’s a timeline of historic Black firsts in the Super Bowl: