The Historical First In Super Bowl 2023 (& Why It Matters)

At the conclusion of the 2022-23 NFL playoffs, it was decided the Philadelphia Eagles would face the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LVII on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona. Though not the first Super Bowl matchup for either team, a few things about the big game will break new ground in NFL history. Travis Kelce, who plays tight end for the Chiefs, and Jason Kelce, Travis' older brother, expected to start at center for the Eagles, will be the first brothers ever in pro football to compete on opposing sidelines for the Lombardi trophy.

More notably, though, the Philadelphia-Kansas City game is one for the pro-football record books because of the two players scheduled to start behind center, according to CNN. Patrick Mahomes, who won the Super Bowl with Kansas City in 2020, and Jalen Hurts, quarterback for Philadelphia, who punched his ticket to the big game for the first time in the 2022-23 season, will be the first Black quarterbacks in the modern Super Bowl era to try and win it all. Philadelphia handily defeated San Francisco 31-7 for the honor, while KC squeaked by Cincinnati, 23-20, in their AFC-NFC conference championship games respectively.

The first Black quarterback to start (and win) the Super Bowl was Doug Williams

Perhaps unbelievably, the first Super Bowl was played in 1967 but it was more than two decades later, in 1988, that a Black quarterback, Doug Williams (pictured) was first called upon to start the big game, based on NPR reporting. He's also the first Black quarterback in NFL history to win the Lombardi. Williams' Washington Redskins (now the Commanders) beat John Elway in his second consecutive Super Bowl appearance for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, as FanNation from Sports Illustrated explains.

At the outset of the 2022-23 NFL season, there were 11 Black QB starters in the league, per FootballPerspective, the most ever in NFL history. Meanwhile, an estimated 70% of NFL players overall were people of color, as NPR notes. Still, issues with representation in positions of leadership like coaching and quarterback are an ongoing issue for the league, based on ESPN reporting. Speaking on the first Black quarterbacks ever to start the Super Bowl, Williams, now a senior advisor in Washington, told NPR, it's not about Black players' ability to excel in those positions of leadership, " ... it's whether or not they'd get the opportunity to do it," Williams said. "I think that's the bottom line."

Patrick Mahomes is only the third Black Super Bowl winning QB in history

After Williams' historic Super Bowl win in 1988, only two other Black quarterbacks in NFL history have won the Super Bowl: Russell Wilson, with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, and then Patrick Mahomes in 2020 who will be making his third Super Bowl appearance in Glendale, as CNN writes. Mahomes and the Chiefs lost the Lombardi trophy to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021, via ESPN. Per The Athletic, only four other Black QBs have started in Super Bowl history: Colin Kaepernick, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, and Cam Newton, but they all came up short.

Despite the groundbreaking nature of Super Bowl LVII, in the run-up to the game, Eagles QB Jalen Hurts' (pictured) had his mind on his team, telling CNN, "You work really hard to put yourself in this position and I'm forever grateful. Only God knows the things that each individual on this team has been able to overcome for us to come together as a team and do something special as a group ... That's what means the most. I always want to go out there and give my best regardless of what's going on because I don't want to let down the guy next to me."