NFL News of January 30, 2004

Warren Moon agrees with Rush Limbaugh on this much, at least. The progress of African-American quarterbacks in the NFL has been a media-driven issue.

“It’s a story we didn’t necessarily ask for,” Moon said Thursday afternoon. “In a thousand interviews, we were asked about being black quarterbacks.”

The screaming match that followed Limbaugh’s ill-conceived September remarks about the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb drowned out any more thoughtful discussion about this. Maybe that’s possible now that things have calmed down.

…Just as it was important to note that Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play major-league baseball, it has been important to mark the milestones of African Americans in the signature position of quarterback. That’s why Moon and a handful of others, including former Eagle Randall Cunningham, formed an organization called the Field Generals.

…Moon was joined by living links in the chain: Marlin Briscoe, the first black QB to start in the league during modern times; James Harris, the first to start a playoff game; Doug Williams, the first to start (and win) a Super Bowl; and Daunte Culpepper, one of the league’s current stars.

Briscoe, now 59, is the perfect of example of why this story is worth telling and repeating. He is best remembered as a wide receiver, a position he played in Buffalo and for two Super Bowl championship teams in Miami, including the 1972 team that went 17-0.

But Briscoe was a quarterback at the University of Omaha. As a 14th-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos (then in the AFL), Briscoe signed his contract after getting one promise from coach Lou Saban.

—Phil Sheridan, The Philadelphia Inquirer “Black quarterbacks have long, controversial history in NFL”

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