HBCUBuzz’s Kev Keise sits down with Grambling State University football coach Doug Williams, the first African-American to start and win a Super Bowl.
Grambling State’s head coach Doug Williams will go down as one of the best black quarter backs to play the game. In his collegiate years, which began in 1974, he dominated as a G-Men. In four years he led the Tigers to three SWAC titles with an overall record of 36-7 and was named Black College Player of the Year twice.
His success in his college years resulted in him being a first round 17th overall pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1978 NFL draft.
As a pro he guided the Bucs, who never played in the postseason prior to Williams’ arrival, to multiple playoff appearances. In 1986, Williams joined the Washington Redskins and his career became legendary. Unlike other heralded Black quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick, who won numerous of games for their respective teams. Williams won the game that mattered the most, the Super Bowl.
In 1988, Williams beat out Hall-of-Famer John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII becoming the first and only African-American to win a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. Williams threw for four touchdown passes in the second quarter to lead the Redskins to a 42-10 victory over and was named the Super Bowl MVP.
Although the Super Bowl is the biggest spectacle in sports, the Black College Hall-of-Famer just looks at as a game. I sat down with Doug Williams to get his perspective.
Super Bowl Sunday is on the horizon. How does this time of year make you feel?
“The Super Bowl doesn’t do anything to me now, that’s 24 years ago I don’t get the goose bumps. (Laughs)”
When you first walked out on the field, what went through your mind and did you realize you were about to take part in the biggest game of your life?
“It wasn’t about the Super Bowl, it was about the football game. I always said the Super Bowl isn’t for players, the Super Bowl is for Corporate America. They are the ones who bring all their people to the game and spend all the money in advertisements, but somewhere behind the whoo-blahh there’s a football game. As a player, you have to look at it as a football game not the Super Bowl.”
Well, you won the Super Bowl and became the first and only starting African-American to do so, that had be a great feeling?
“It’s certainly a good feeling to have been there, but 24 years have passed and by now you would have thought somebody would’ve steeped up…… Hopefully the Cam Newton’s of the world, the Mick Vick’s of the world, the Josh Freeman’s of the world and the Robert Griffiths, who would definitely be in there, would have a chance to make it happen.”
In Super Bowl XXII, you beat out John Elway, how significant was that?
“I didn’t go to the Super Bowl to play against John Elway. I went to play against the Denver Broncos. Elway just so happened to be the quarterback for that team and I so happen to be with the Redskins.”
You weren’t regarded as the starting quarterback heading into the 1986 season. How did you earn the role going in to the Super Bowl?
“Well I didn’t go in as a starter, but I was playing the best at the time so I earned it and I started throughout the playoffs.”
Did you treat this game differently than previous games? Did you feel pressured?
“Naw it’s just a football game and as a football player, you go out there to win. I’m not a firm believer in pressure. If I don’t put pressure on myself, there is no pressure.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your quest to the Super Bowl?
“Chicago had one of the toughest teams in the league at the time and Minnesota was playing just as well as any other team. We just found a way to come back 14 points against the Chicago Bears and we beat out the Vikings at the last second.”
Who do you have winning Super Bowl XLVI: The New York Giants or the New England Patriots?
“Whoever makes the fewer mistakes. I have no favorites, I don’t have a horse in the race.”
Who is your favorite team?
“The Washington Redskins is my team favorite. I have a lot of legions with the Redskins.”
When you think they will be competing for a ring?
“When they get the players to get them there (laughs) it’s not a matter of turns, you need the players to get you there. (laughs)”
So no prediction for this year’s Super Bowl at all?
“It’s going to be a good game, but if I was in that business I wouldn’t be coaching, I’d be at a casino tell people who’s about to win or picking the lotto or something. (laughs). At the end of the day it’s just a game. Just think about it the last three seconds of the Super Bowl and all the hype that went on in the week is over.”
The success of Williams is evidence that an African-American have the ability to be a successful leader and quarterback in the NFL. Will Michael Vick or Cam Newton break the 24 year drought of a Super Bowl winning quarterback? Time can only tell. No matter what, Doug Williams will go down as one of the greatest Africans Americans to throw a football.