Updated: September 15, 2016


Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Staff Reporter

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In 2016 we (Americans) are still discussing if African Americans can play the position of quarterback. We are still talking about if these men can lead their teams to championships. History has proven that this is true Black quarterback can lead their teams. These same players are now being called the N-word AGAIN when they (Black players) don’t follow the written script.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the latest example by not standing up for the National Anthem this PRE-SEASON. History will either exonerate number seven or bury him in football history.

As Professor Fred Whitted from Winston Salem State University states over and over again. “WE MUST TELL OUR OWN STORY”, for if we don’t it will be forgotten, and lost forever.



SPECIAL MENTION-Canadian Football League Star  

 CHARLES ‘CHUCK’ EALEY- 1972– University of Toledo 35-0 college record- Canadian Football League -Rookie of the Year -Hamilton Tiger-Cats-Grey Cup Champion. The greatest Black quarterback America never saw. He is still the only college quarterback to go undefeated in his college career. Ealey won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award and was named to the CFL All-Star team. He helped secure a 13–10 last minute victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 60th Grey Cup, when he also won the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player award after passing for 291 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 63 yards.


1. HAROLD ‘WARREN’ MOON-1981- Houston Oilers- The only professional quarterback to take team to five straight Canadian Football League Championships with Edmonton Eskimos.  Moon was the best quarterback Edmonton has ever known yet no National Football League team wanted him to play the position. Warren kept his word and would not be forced to play a different position something the NFL had been doing for years with African American college quarterbacks. Warren Moon is in the CFL and NFL Hall of Fame.



2. RUSSELL WILSON- 2012- Seattle Seahawks- Wilson lead the Hawks to back to back Super Bowl appearances – The Field General is never out of a game, if the defense can keep the Seahawks in any game Wilson will find a way to win it for Seattle. Wilson won more games his first four years than any other quarterback. Yes, that includes Brady-New England Patriots, Bart Starr, Aaron Rogers, and Brett Favre-Green Bay Packers, Troy Aikman, and Roger Staubauch-Dallas Cowboys, The Manning Brothers, and Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints.



3. DOUG WILLIAMS-1978– Tampa Bay-Washington Football Club- Williams took the rag tag, no offense; ugly uniformed Tampa Bay Buccaneers from last place to the NFC playoffs twice.

He was the first African American to win a Super Bowl.

Every African American football fan across this nation yelled at the same time “GET UP, DOUG GET UP” when Williams went down in the 2nd quarter of the Super Bowl with an apparent leg injury. Not only did he get up he broke eight Super Bowl records at that time, beating America’s new Golden Boy John Elway and the Denver Broncos.



4. JAMES HARRIS-1969-Buffalo Bills,- Los Angeles Rams,-San Diego Chargers,- Another Grambling State University prototype quarterback with a strong arm. Number 12 was the first Black quarterback to start a season in the NFL, with the Buffalo Bills. Harris was also the first African American to win a playoff game in 1974 with the Los Angeles Rams. Many receivers stated that they had to watch the ball into the body because if the football hit their fingers they would break. Defenders stated it was very hard to intercept Harris’s passes because the football whizzed by them before they could react. In 1976 Harris lead the conference in passing percentage in spite of being benched. Louisiana Lightning was one of my favorite players.



5. MICHAEL VICK- 2001– Atlanta Falcons-Philadelphia Eagles- Michael Vick changed the quarterback position forever with his running skills. Quarterbacks became a running threat thanks to Michael Vick and his legs.  In 2006, Vick became the first American quarterback to ever rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season. It was accomplished in the Canadian Football League earlier.  He also set a record by rushing for 8.4 yards per carry. Vick and teammate running back Warrick Dunn became the first quarterback-running back duo to each surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. If it were not for the dog fighting incident he would have broken all quarterback rushing records. Vick followed in the footsteps of another running quarterback Philadelphia Eagle, Randall Cunningham.



6. RANDALL CUNNINGHAM- 1985-Philadelphia Eagles- Minnesota Vikings- Cunningham took two different teams to the NFC Championship game. Sports experts stated that Cunningham would never win because he kept throwing into zone defenses and would take off running when the pass play broke down. Cunningham defied the odds and won. Randall led the league in rushing by a quarterback four years in a row and was third all time rusher for the Eagles when he left in the 1990’s.

Moving on to the Minnesota Vikings after a year of retirement from the Eagles missed the Super Bowl by a field goal in 1998. The Philadelphia Eagle organization stated that Randall’s legs were too old. Cunningham showed them with The Vikings who were 15-1 and the first team to miss the big game with that record.



7. DONOVAN McNABB-1999 Philadelphia Eagles-Washington Football Club-First African American to take a team to four straight NFC Championship games. Only Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills had done that. McNabb became the Eagles’ all-time leader in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. His 3,469 career yards rushing still ranks sixth all-time for NFL quarterbacks.

Donovan had to be a good solider like many other African American quarterbacks of the past and present, working with what the team ownership gave them little or nothing on the field.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots can request a tight end or wide receiver and by the end of the summer that player would show up at Foxboro, Mass. The Organization granted Brady’s request and the Patriots keep on winning.  When wide receiver Terrell Owens moved to South Philly the Eagles became an offensive threat and went to the Super Bowl. When Terrell and Donovan left the Eagles went back to their normal selves.



8. ELDRIDGE RENO DICKEY-1968- Oakland Raiders- Mr. Dickey should have been in the record books and should have been the first Black STARTING quarterback in the American Football League. In 1968 the Oakland Raiders made Dickey the first African-American quarterback to be drafted in the first round in professional football. Dickey never overcame the hurt at not being able to play for the Raiders as a quarterback professionally. Two other black quarterbacks of his time, Joe Gilliam and Marlin Briscoe, had the same feelings that they never received a fair opportunity to play their desired position-QUARTERBACK. This is still occurring today with Geno Smith of the New York Jets.



9. CAM NEWTON- 2011- Carolina Panthers- This young man continues to amaze the NFL without a star receiver. The football intelligencia stated that Newton was not a student and never will be a student of the game.  All of this after he guided the Auburn Tigers to the NCAA National Title. One reporter Nolan Nawrocki (now working for the NFL) stated that Cam Newton had a bad character, was arrogant, had a fake smile, played up to the camera, was immature, had a big ego, had a sense of entitlement, thought he was above the law, was often late for meetings, had problems with authority, lacked leadership qualities and could not be dependable. Nawrocki still thinks this way three years later. Notice the issues that Mr. Nawrocki put forth had nothing to do with skills on the field.

Number one just guided The Carolina Panthers to a division championship AGAIN. The Black Cats went to Super Bowl 50 and should make another visit to the big game soon with his talent behind center. Cam Newton’s size makes it very difficult to bring him down. In a few years Newton can climb up this all time African American quarterback’s list.

What America resents is Cam Newton having fun playing this game of football and winning at the same time.

What America wants these Black stars to be is robots and not rock the boat. Cam is now placed in a difficult spot being with the conservative Carolina Panther organization. He might want to support Colin Kaepernick but he cannot because he knows politically where this organization stands.



10. KORDELL STEWART- 1995- Pittsburgh Steelers- They called him SLASH because he could play so many positions. Pittsburgh Steelers color commentator Myron Cope gave Stewart the nickname “Slash” to acknowledge that he could play multiple positions—quarterback/receiver/rusher (quarterback “slash” receiver “slash” rusher).While the NFL and the Steelers tried to decide what to do with the influx of African American quarterbacks Stewart became a human piñata, playing four different positions in one game. Some sports experts say this was done deliberately so Stewart could not concentrate on being the best quarterback he could have been. Stewart changed the way NFL coaches looked at the major position with an opening for the quarterback to help the teams in other offensive ways.

Stewart opened the door for the Black running quarterback.



11. DAUNTE CULPEPPER1999 Tennessee Titans- This quarterback is one of the strongest quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. Culpepper use to carry would be tacklers on his back for an extra five yards and a first down. He was in the same graduating class as Donovan McNabb. Culpepper scored 10 touchdowns in one season the sixth most in one season. In 2000 he was named Minnesota’s starting quarterback. He led the Vikings to victory in the first seven games of the season, and helped them finish 11–5 and advance to the NFC Championship game, where they were blown out by the New York Giants 41–0.

ESPN, The Rat started throwing darts at Culpepper during the confrontational contract negotiations with the Miami Dolphins calling him one of the worst quarterbacks in their 2007 Magazine, claiming that Daunte was not a team player. He stock dropped like a stone thanks to THE RODENT. ESPN did this knowing that Culpepper had won playoffs games and a division title.  

The Oakland Raiders picked up the veteran to help with their young quarterback staff until a leg injury sidelined him for the first time. Culpepper was one of the most determined players I’ve ever seen coming back to play after two severe injuries and perform well. The shoulder injury with the Detroit Lions probably put him out of football. This is something ESPN just forgot to tell the public.



12. STEVE MCNAIR-1995 Tennessee Titans- shared the MVP in 2003 with Payton Manning. Continuing the American mantra, that African American males cannot be heroes, McNair helped the team through their transition from Houston to Tennessee. An HBCU-Historical Black Colleges and Universities, graduate from Alcorn State University. He guided the Titans to the Super Bowl after having surgery on his back. McNair and the Titans lost that game on the last play with Tennessee standing on the two yard line.   McNair finished the 2003 season as the league leader in passer rating and became the youngest player in NFL history to pass for 20,000 yards and run for 3,000 yards.

In 2005 he played two years for the Baltimore Ravens. McNair threw the longest regular-season touchdown pass in the Ravens’ history, when he threw an 89-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mark Clayton, McNair helped Baltimore to a 13–3 record and an AFC North Championship. 

McNair is the third African American to take two teams to division championships.



13. JOE GILLIAM Jr.-1972-Pittsburgh Steelers- Gilliam was relieved of his duties after posting 4-1-1 record for then backup Terry Bradshaw. For an Oakland Raider fan it was very difficult to root for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Joe Gilliam made it easy to cheer for the black and gold with his style of play. It was easy because at the time there were only three African American quarterbacks.

 Prior to the 1974 regular season, Steelers head coach Chuck Noll stated that the starting quarterback position was “wide open” between Terry Bradshaw, Gilliam, and Terry Hanratty. Gilliam outperformed the other two in the 1974 pre-season and Noll named Gilliam the starting quarterback, the first African American quarterback to start a season opener after the AFL–NFL merger in 1970.

Gilliam was one of the few starting quarterbacks to ever be replaced with a winning record. Number 17 also had to battle with drugs and eventually put himself out of the league. The team could have helped him in his struggles but choose to ignore the problem and lost a very good player.

The League helped Johnny “Football” Manziel with his issues. Can you imagine what Gilliam could have been if the league had assisted him.

There were (some racial) threats by fans if Bradshaw did not start the seventh game of the season after a very bad performance by Gilliam against the Oakland Raiders. White quarterbacks never have to go through this if they have a bad game they just move on to the next game. When an African American quarterback has a bad game he has to look behind his back and wonder will he be employed the next week.

Gilliam had one of the sweetest spirals ever seen. He was the first Black player that could throw that spiral on a dime 80 yards. Now imagine if he wore Black and Silver instead of Black and Gold, just dreaming.  



14. VINCE TOBIAS EVANS-1977- Chicago Bears- Los Angeles Raiders

Evans was one of those players that crossed the line in the 87 NFL strike. It affected his personality and relationships with fellow players because he had friends that walked out.

Evans is the only player with the Chicago Bears to score a perfect quarterback rating in a game, doing so against the Green Bay Packers in 1980, completing 18 of 22 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns. The game marked the first time since 1970 that a Bears quarterback threw for more than 300 yards.

He is the forgotten Oakland Raider and at the time the oldest player in the NFL in 1995 at 40 years old. Raider players marveled at Evans’ physical condition. He routinely out-ran teammates barely more than half his age. He took on all challengers in locker-room wrestling matches, including giant defensive tackle Chester McGlockton.


So it’s not always about X’s and O’s on the field. These Black men blazed a trail like no other and continue the struggle for African Americans from Fritz Pollard to Dak Prescott.


Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod


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