Updated: September 13, 2016



Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Staff Reporter


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 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.




Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard-1920’s-Akron Pros- First African American player who entered the league in 1921. Pollard was also the first Black head coach in professional football. Pollard and nine other African America players were banned in 1926 for unspecified reason. (RACE).

Joe Lillard- 1930’s-Chicago Cardinals- was the last Black player in the league before the gentlemen’s agreement between teams not to employ African Americans between the years, 1933-1946.

George Taliaferro- 1949-New York Yanks- officially the second Black quarterback. Taliaferro was a jack-of-all trades, The First Slash: in both 1952 and 1953, he accumulated over 200 passing, rushing and receiving yards, and scored a touchdown via all three methods. But despite making three Pro Bowls, Taliaferro never led his team in passing, and was more of a utility player than a quarterback. This is the theme over and over again with African American quarterbacks.


Willie Thrower-1950’s-Chicago Bears- The First Black quarterback in the National Football League. Thrower’s first game was in 1953 against the San. Francisco 49ers completing three passes for 27 yards with no interceptions. Thrower moved on to the Canadian Football League and the Blue Bombers to become a star. Thrower did this because no team wanted him at the quarterback position. This also would be the trail for many future Black quarterbacks.


Marlin Briscoe-1968-Denver Broncos- was the first African American quarterback in the American Football League. This new league went to the African American colleges and universities (HBCU’s) to find players. The AFL wanted to be different than the NFL’s three yards and a cloud of dust. They wanted an aerial attack, Marlin Briscoe would be the first in that attack. Briscoe was drafted by the Denver Broncos and started at the quarterback position as a rookie. He never would have started if it were not for Steve Tensi broken collarbone. After a promising season the next year the Broncos placed him 4th on the depth chart and then shipped him to Buffalo and the Bills who had All-Star quarterback Jack Kemp. If Marlin the Magician wanted to start he would have to change position. Briscoe would never play quarterback again. He made a secret vow to himself to make it to the Super Bowl before the Denver Broncos. Briscoe did better than that he won back to back Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins.


These young men Pollard, and Lillard, the first Black players, with Thrower, and Brisco the first Black quarterbacks were the builders and shakers for African Americans and the growing Black influence of the game. If it were not for them there would not be a Cam Newton-Carolina Panthers, Russell Wilson-Seattle Seahawks, or Teddy Bridgewater-Minnesota Vikings. There would not have been a James Harris-Los Angeles Rams, Randall Cunningham Philadelphia Eagles, or Doug Williams- The Washington Football Club.

This list is not about the number of wins, the number of Super Bowls but the leadership, fight, tenacity, and the courage to become an elite quarterback. An elite quarterback in the National Football League, a league that consistently tried to change their natural position-behind center.

A league that changed the rules of the game to stifle these young men from succeeding. This league kept harping that these players were better suited for being a wide receiver, tight end, slot back, or play defense like Kordell “Slash” Stewart of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Black men were not smart enough to lead a team. The new wave of the African American quarterbacks are breaking that mold.

In 50 years this hardly ever happened to a white graduating senior college quarterback.


Black males can’t lead, as Doug Williams won the Super Bowl for the Washington Football Club. Russell Wilson was too short but Doug Flutie-Buffalo Bills was not. Major Harris and Randell Cunningham could not read zone defenses but Andrew Luck-Indianapolis Colts can. Michael Vick needed to stay in the pocket yet Fran Tarkington-Minnesota Vikings can run all over the field to gain victories. James Harris, Doug Williams, and Steve McNair threw the ball too hard but Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints and Matt Ryan-Atlanta Falcons throw tight spirals. Black males cannot win like Joe Gilliam, Vince Young, “The Field General”,- Russell Wilson, Donovan McNabb, or Warren Moon. Yet the league continues to have quarterbacks that are being paid and have not won, YEAR AFTER YEAR.  Tony Romo-Dallas Cowboys, Ryan Tannehill-Miami Dolphins, Jay Cutler- Chicago Bears, Philip Rivers-San Diego Chargers, Matthew Stafford- Detroit Lions, and Matt Ryan-Atlanta Falcons head this list.

African American quarterbacks only get one bite at the apple- JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, while Tim Tebow and Johnny “Football” Manziel can bite that same apple over and over again until it is almost gone.


Last, the quarterback is the face of the organization, the voice of the organization and the leader. Some organizations still in 2016 do not want that face to be a person of color. John Elway and Eli Manning used this privilege on their draft day. Mr. Elway told the Baltimore Colts that he would not play for them and would opt out to play baseball for the New York Yankees. Likewise, Eli Manning told the San Diego Chargers the same thing only he would sit out a year and enter the draft the next year.

Now think when was the last time an African American college quarterback challenged the NFL draft. NEVER

Explain this!!!


1) Teddy Bridgewater-Minnesota Vikings* injured out for season

2) Robert Griffin III- Cleveland Browns

3) Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers

4) Tyrod Taylor-Buffalo Bills

5) Jameis Winston– Tampa Bay Buccaneers

6) Russell Wilson- Seattle Seahawks

7) Dakota “Dak” Prescott- Dallas Cowboys  *Rookie


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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