Since 2023 has been filled with highs for Black quarterbacks, 2024 might as well keep the party going. And if things hold steady, Patrick Mahomes won’t be the only one anymore.
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After his Christmas Day performance, Lamar Jackson — who already has a unanimous MVP on his resume — could be on his way to winning his second MVP, joining Mahomes as the only Black quarterbacks to hold that honor.
“I thought Lamar had an MVP performance tonight,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, as his quarterback accounted for 297 yards of offense and a pair of touchdowns. “It takes a team to create a performance like that, but it takes a player to play at that level, to play at an MVP level, it takes a player to play that way. Lamar was all over the field.”
Jackson is in the driver’s seat for the award — months after “nobody wanted him.” Never forget that before he signed his five-year, $260 million contract in April to stay in Baltimore, teams and owners were making it known around the league that they were out on arguably the best player in the game.
If Jackson can snag the award it will be his second in five seasons, as he won his first in 2019. Mahomes won his first the year before Jackson did, meaning that we’re weeks away from history repeating itself, as Mahomes and Jackson could go back-to-back for a second time.
In 2003, Steve McNair became the first Black quarterback to win MVP. Twelve years later, Cam Newton became the first to win it outright, as McNair split his award with Peyton Manning. Newton was followed by Mahomes, Jackson, Mahomes, and maybe Jackson, again.
At the beginning of the year, Mahomes and Jalen Hurts made history as the first two Black quarterbacks to ever face each other in the Super Bowl — joining the small list of Black quarterbacks who’ve played in the sport’s biggest game. By the time the draft rolled around, more history was made as Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson became the first three Black quarterbacks to be taken in the Top 5. Months later, another feat was accomplished when 14 Black quarterbacks started during Week One of the 2023 season — the most ever. And in October, Tyrod Taylor became the first Black quarterback to win a game for the New York Giants — a sign that things haven’t changed as much as they appear.
Marlin Briscoe became the first starting Black quarterback in pro football history in 1968. He died in 2022, six months before arguably the best year Black quarterbacks have ever experienced in the NFL. It’s a stat that highlights history and is evidence of how slow progress can be.