Doug Williams leads Redskins to Super Bowl victory

Doug Williams leads Redskins to Super Bowl victory

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On January 31, 1988, in San Diego, California, Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins—now known as the Washington Football Team—becomes the first African American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, scoring four of Washington’s five touchdowns in an upset 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

Denver was favored to win the game, and they started strong, as star quarterback John Elway threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel on the team’s first play from scrimmage. Williams injured his knee shortly thereafter and was replaced for two plays by Jay Schroeder. By the beginning of the second quarter, the Broncos were ahead 10-0. All that changed, however, when Williams and the Washington Football Team began to obliterate the Denver defense, scoring 35 points in the quarter.

The scoring onslaught began with Williams’ 80-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders, which tied a record for longest pass in a Super Bowl game. Williams scored three more touchdowns in the quarter, finding Gary Clark with a 27-yard pass, hitting Sanders again for 50 yards and finishing with an eight-yard toss to Clint Didier. For the fifth score of the quarter, Williams handed off to the rookie running back Timmy Smith and Smith headed along the right sideline for 58 yards into the end zone. Sanders and Smith set their own Super Bowl records that day: Sanders for receiving (193 yards) and Smith for rushing (204 yards).

Denver never recovered, as the Washington Football Team scored once more in the second half to put the final score at 42-10. Though he downplayed the race issue of his legacy, Williams made history in more ways than one in Super Bowl XXII. His four touchdowns in the first half tied the Super Bowl then-record for most touchdowns thrown in an entire game. Also in the first half, he passed for 306 yards, just 25 short of the Super Bowl record for an entire game. Williams broke the record—set by Joe Montana in Super Bowl XIX—in the third quarter.

Doug Williams (quarterback)

Douglas Lee Williams (born August 9, 1955) is an American football executive and former quarterback and coach. Williams is best known for his performance with the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII against the Denver Broncos, where he was named Super Bowl MVP after passing for 340 yards and four touchdowns, a single-quarter Super Bowl record which he set in the second quarter, making him the first black quarterback to both start and win a Super Bowl.

    (1978–1982) /Arizona Outlaws (1984–1985) (1986–1989)
    (1991) [1]
    Head coach (1993)
    Head coach (1994)
    Running backs coach (1995)
    Offensive coordinator (1995–1996)
    College scout (1997)
    Head coach (1998–2003, 2011–2013)
    Head coach
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004–2008)
    Personnel executive
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009–2010)
    Coordinator of pro scouting (2010–2011)
    General manager
  • Washington Redskins (2014–2016)
    Personnel executive
  • Washington Redskins (2017–2019)
    Senior vice president of player personnel
  • Washington Football Team (2020)
    Senior vice president of player development
  • Washington Football Team (2021–present)
    Senior advisor
    champion (XXII) (XXII) inductee (2001) (1978)

Following his playing career, Williams began coaching, most notably serving as the head coach of the Grambling State Tigers. Following that, Williams has been a team executive for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Virginia Destroyers, and Washington Football Team.

Doug Williams: The real MVP

On Jan. 31, 1988, Williams directed the greatest offensive performance during a single quarter in NFL postseason history, throwing four touchdown passes as part of a 35-point, 356-yard second quarter in the Washington Redskins&rsquo 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. He became the first African-American passer to both start in a Super Bowl and be selected the game&rsquos MVP. And Williams also became a hero to black America.

That day in San Diego, with the weight of an entire race on his shoulders, Williams stood on the game&rsquos biggest stage and displayed the skill, intellect and heart that black signal-callers supposedly lacked. Even now, 30 years later, discussing the groundbreaking moment stirs pride in Williams.

&ldquoThere&rsquos not a day that goes by that I don&rsquot&rdquo think about it, Williams said recently. &ldquoNot for what it meant to Doug Williams but because it was about much more than Doug Williams. It meant a lot to a whole lot of other people. All the political angles, what people would say depending on what I did, I knew all of that going into the game. But I tried not to put myself above the team and make it all about Doug Williams.

&ldquoI realized that no matter what happened, I was going to be a part of black history. For me, the best way to be talked about in black history was for the team to win the game. I didn&rsquot want to be a part of black history and get my a&ndash kicked. That&rsquos why I always remembered the fact that the Redskins didn&rsquot bring me to San Diego just to show off their black quarterback. I went to San Diego as the Redskins&rsquo starting quarterback. And I went there to win.&rdquo

In the second quarter, Williams went 9-for-11. He passed for 228 yards and the four touchdowns. Overall, he completed 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards with one interception. Wide receiver Ricky Sanders (four receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter) and rookie running back Timmy Smith (five rushes for 122 yards and one touchdown) also made indelible marks during the Redskins&rsquo stunning 15-minute run. Williams, however, was the story.

The bond that Williams still shares with former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs provided the foundation for his historic achievement. Gibbs&rsquo decision to bench quarterback Jay Schroeder before the playoffs and elevate Williams, the team&rsquos backup for two seasons, set everything into motion. Going back even further, it was Gibbs who helped pave the way for Williams to become the first African-American QB picked in the first round of the draft post-merger. It was only fitting that Gibbs coached Williams as he broke through one of professional sports&rsquo toughest barriers.

&ldquoObviously, what he did that day &hellip Doug really played great,&rdquo Gibbs said. &ldquoOur offense played great and our defense played great. Our defense doesn&rsquot get enough credit for what it did, and I&rsquove always felt badly about that.

&ldquoBut it was just something about [that day]. I could have closed my eyes, stuck my finger on that play chart, called whatever was there and it would have gone for 8 yards. Every play &hellip it was just amazing. I&rsquove never experienced anything like that, before or since.&rdquo

We spoke with many key participants on both sides in the 1988 Super Bowl. Not surprisingly, the Broncos weren&rsquot as eager as the Redskins to take a trip to the past. Decades later, what occurred in the game, and during the second quarter in particular, is still too painful for some former players to discuss. All those interviewed, however, expressed admiration for how Williams produced under an intense spotlight, and they credited him with opening doors for others.

Everyone quoted is identified by the titles they held during the 1988 Super Bowl.

The reunion

After being drafted 17th overall in 1978 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Williams helped that team reach the playoffs three times in four years. Frustrated about being one of the NFL&rsquos lowest-paid QBs, Williams bolted to the USFL&rsquos Oklahoma / Arizona Outlaws. He played in the USFL for two seasons until the league folded, and then returned to the NFL as a backup to Washington Redskins starter Jay Schroeder. Williams signed with the Redskins largely because of his relationship with Gibbs, who was Tampa Bay&rsquos running backs coach during Williams&rsquo rookie season. Throughout Williams&rsquo career, Gibbs had been among his biggest supporters.

I get this phone call from Coach Gibbs. He was the only guy who called me Douglas. &lsquoDouglas, it&rsquos Coach Gibbs,&rdquo he said. &lsquoHow you doing?&rdquo He asked me to come to Washington to be a backup. Now at this point, I don&rsquot have a job. I told him, &lsquoCoach, I can be any type of &lsquoup&rsquo you want me to be.&rsquo He started laughing. He said, &lsquoOK. [Washington general manager] Bobby Beathard is going to give you a call.&rsquo Bobby called. We agreed [to terms].

When I was at Tampa, coach [John] McKay told me we needed to find out everything we could about this quarterback at Grambling. He sent me there to spend some time with Doug. I got to know him a little. I told Coach McKay that Doug is a great person and he&rsquos really football smart. And gosh, he could throw the football. We took him in the first round. A black quarterback had never been taken in the first round [in the NFL].

My rookie year, Coach Gibbs came by the hotel and picked me up every night to go over to his house. We&rsquod go over the playbook and I&rsquod eat dinner with his family. Every night. The relationship started in &rsquo78, and that relationship is still the same today.

You could tell how much Doug respected Coach Gibbs. We all respected Coach Gibbs. He was, well, Coach Gibbs. But he and Doug went way back. Doug definitely appreciated everything Coach Gibbs did for him after the USFL.

I owed Coach a lot for giving me the opportunity with the Redskins, but I only attempted one pass the whole [1986] season. A competitor always wants to play. I didn&rsquot want to spend another whole season sitting. So when I got off the plane after our final preseason game and Coach Gibbs pulled me off to the side, I didn&rsquot know what he was going to say. He told me they traded me to the [Los Angeles] Raiders, who had tried to get me when I was in Tampa. I was ready to go. I packed up my apartment. I called everyone back home [in Zachary, Louisiana] to tell them: I&rsquom headed to the Raiders.

Doug Williams talks with head coach Joe Gibbs during a break in the action against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFL/NFC Championship game Jan. 17, 1988, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

That first year, everyone knew that Doug was good enough to play and win. No one ever doubted that. Each day in practice, you could see it. I tell everyone I know that watching Doug that first year [in practice], I had never been around anyone who threw a prettier deep ball. You don&rsquot trade someone like that.

Yeah &hellip I changed my mind. I thought about it, and I just didn&rsquot think that [trading Williams] was best for the Redskins. And I had to do what was best for the Redskins.

Coach called me to come to his office. When he finally shows up, he starts smiling. &lsquoDouglas, I changed my mind,&rsquo he said. There was no smile on my face. I told Coach he couldn&rsquot change his mind. I was ready to go to the Raiders. He got a look on his face I had never seen before and said, &lsquoI don&rsquot work for the Raiders. I work for the Washington Redskins. I changed my mind.&rsquo

I know that was kind of a tough deal. But I had a feeling that during the season, Doug was going to get his chance. I really believed that. I really believed he would do a lot for our team.

Here I&rsquom thinking I&rsquom going to the Raiders, and then I&rsquom back in the same position as before. I didn&rsquot have any control. I just had to roll with it. I wasn&rsquot happy about it. But right before I left his office, Coach told me he had a feeling that somewhere during the season I was gonna get in and &lsquowe&rsquore gonna win this thing.&rsquo

&ldquoCoach Gibbs would just see things that other coaches didn&rsquot even think about.&rdquo Clint Didier, Redskins tight end

Jay had a great year in &rsquo86. He was the concrete starter, and then they [renegotiated] his contract. All of a sudden, it went from &lsquowe&rsquo to &lsquome.&rsquo It was pretty apparent to most of the guys on the team that the whole team concept had gone off course with him. Not many teammates had a lot of respect for Jay at that time.

We had such a close team. Everyone was together. Doug was such a big part of that. Everyone was behind Doug.

Doug was excited. He thought he had a chance to go to the Raiders and start. That&rsquos what he wanted. That would have been bad for us. Jay was different [after he signed a new contract]. Everybody on the team really respected Doug. Doug was all about our team. Everybody would tell you that.

&lsquoHere we go again&rsquo

In the strike-shortened 1987 season, the Redskins went 11-4 and finished atop the NFC East. Beginning in the playoffs, Williams, who thrived off the bench while playing in five games, supplanted Schroeder as Washington&rsquos starter. Washington defeated the Chicago Bears in the NFC divisional round and the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. The AFC champion Denver Broncos were making their second consecutive appearance in the Super Bowl. The previous year, the Broncos were routed 39-20 by the New York Giants. The Broncos were led by quarterback John Elway, the 1987 Associated Press NFL MVP. Against the Broncos, the Redskins fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter. On Denver&rsquos first play from scrimmage, Elway connected with wide receiver Ricky Nattiel for a 56-yard touchdown.

The thing is, we jumped up, 10-0. So we&rsquore right in the middle of it. We&rsquore right there. It&rsquos early, yeah, but you feel good about what you&rsquore doing. You feel good about the start.

Obviously, you&rsquore feeling good because you&rsquove gotten on them early. That&rsquos exactly what you want. You&rsquoll take that all the time. You&rsquore always aware enough to know that you&rsquore going to have to play well for 60 minutes. You know you have to play your best football. But you&rsquoll take that start.

We got whipped by the Raiders [in the 1984 Super Bowl]. Nothing seems to be going right [against Denver], and I&rsquom going, &lsquoOh, my gosh. Here we go again.&rsquo Then Doug gets hit and does what amounts to the splits on a knee that really wasn&rsquot that good to begin with. I&rsquom thinking, &lsquoOh, man, now we may have lost Doug.&rsquo And that was after the whole thing with his tooth.&rsquo

The part that most people don&rsquot know was that the Saturday before the game, I had emergency root canal surgery. I was in there for four hours. I couldn&rsquot practice at all. Then late in that first quarter, I just slipped. That turf had been sodded, and it was slippery. When my right foot hit, it just kept moving. I turned and hyperextended my knee.

We had great practices that week. We felt good about what we wanted to do. Then we&rsquore down, 10-0. Doug goes out of the game. There was just a lot going on.

I wasn&rsquot worried. After that [56-yard touchdown pass], I remember very clearly running across the field to Barry Wilburn, the other cornerback, and saying, &lsquoHey, man, forget that play.&rsquo In a player&rsquos mind, a 40-, 50-, 60-yard bomb, you&rsquore not thinking that&rsquos typical. You&rsquore not thinking that they&rsquore going to do that the next time they get the ball, and the next time and the next time. There wasn&rsquot a need for us to make adjustments. We just had to keep doing what we were doing. And get Doug back in the game.&rdquo

I was sitting on the bench, loosening up my leg. Coach comes over to me and said, &lsquoDouglas. You ready to go?&rsquo I told him I was. As he starts to walk away, he stops and turns around. &lsquoDouglas,&rsquo he says. &lsquoWe&rsquore gonna get this sucker to rolling.&rsquo

Quarterback John Elway and the Broncos struck early and often in Super Bowl XXII. The big play was a 56-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ricky Nattiel on Denver&rsquos first play from scrimmage. (Photos by Getty Images)

That whole first quarter, everyone is frustrated. Guys are coming off the field screaming. On the sideline, we&rsquove got all kind of stuff happening. I wasn&rsquot happy. I&rsquom thinking I&rsquom going to go in there at halftime and really just &hellip I had a lot I was going to say. Then the quarter changes.

Charlie 10 hitch

Down 10-0 to start the second quarter, Gibbs did what Gibbs did best &ndash he made adjustments. He dialed up the Redskins&rsquo favorite play to begin the comeback.

Coach Gibbs came over and says to the offensive line, &lsquoTell me specifically what they&rsquore doing up front.&rsquo During that era, Denver was basically a 3-4 defense, much like the [New York] Giants. But they came out running a defense they hadn&rsquot showed all year long. They were basically running a 46 defense and running stunts inside. It was giving us problems. He puts his finger on the side of his face and thinks for maybe five seconds. And that&rsquos when you saw the brilliance of Joe Gibbs.

The worst thing anybody could do with Coach Gibbs was to give him two weeks to put a game plan together. If you give Joe Gibbs that amount of time, I can promise you he&rsquos going to have everything covered. But he was also at the top of the list of coaches who could make adjustments during the game.

Coach Gibbs would just see things that other coaches didn&rsquot even think about.

Coach Gibbs knew exactly what we needed to do. He told Doug and the offensive line what we had to run in the second quarter.

And he said, &lsquoWe&rsquore gonna run Charlie 10 hitch to start the quarter.&rsquo

The whole time I was there with the Redskins, Charlie 10 hitch was our favorite play. It was just a 5-yard hitch by the outside receivers. Of course, when you had Ricky Sanders, Gary Clark and Art Monk, you throw a hitch to &rsquoem with the corners off, they&rsquore gonna average 9 yards per attempt. That&rsquos about what we averaged. The adjustment was, [the defense] could take that away by coming up and pressing you, having a single-high safety or two-deep [safeties].

&ldquoThe way it unfolded, man, it was like a movie.&rdquo Darrell Green, Redskins cornerback

In our system, if the cornerback is pressing, with no help, meaning it wasn&rsquot Cover 2, and the safety wasn&rsquot in the middle of the field, we always believed in one thing: With Gary Clark, Art Monk and Ricky Sanders, we were going to win that battle.

We get the ball for the first time [in the second quarter]. We&rsquore on our 20.

[Broncos cornerback] Mark Haynes came up on Ricky. I was like, &lsquoWow.&rsquo

Doug looked at me and gave me a nod. I knew what that meant.

I get up over the ball and look out to my right. Ricky Sanders is pressed. I knew what that meant.

Haynes tried to put his hand on Ricky. Ricky dodged him and he was up the sideline. [Broncos free safety] Tony Lilly was not going to catch Ricky Sanders.

It was single-high. I know Doug&rsquos eyes got big when he saw it too.

The safety didn&rsquot get over in enough time to make the play. Doug threw a perfect ball, and 80 yards later I was in the end zone. It was the highlight of my life.

Like I said, nothing that happened in that first quarter affected me or us in any type of catastrophic way. Once we shook off that first touchdown, we knew the game would go the way we anticipated it would go. Doug and Ricky got it started. Once we scored, you knew. But obviously, no one could have had any idea about what was coming next.

&lsquoWhat just happened?&rsquo

Sanders&rsquo 80-yard touchdown, only 43 seconds into the second quarter, energized the Redskins. In their next 17 plays in the quarter, the Redskins would score four more touchdowns to all but end the game by halftime.

Second quarter, 10:51 left | Play call: Zero 88

27-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Clark

Gary ran a post-corner route. Gary Clark versus [Broncos cornerback] Steve Wilson one-on-one? I&rsquom taking Gary.

On that play, Ricky [Sanders] is crossing the field. The key on that is if the safety runs with Ricky, then you&rsquore waiting to look for the post [route] because you know you&rsquove got one whole side of the field to work. They played man-to-man, and we caught that thing going across the field.

Gary was open all the way. He ran a great route, and then Doug hit him perfectly. Man, it doesn&rsquot get any better than that.

[Running back] Kelvin Bryant was wide-open in the flat. He never lets me forget that. We were at [Redskins] homecoming last year. Kelvin comes up to me and says, &lsquoI&rsquom still mad you didn&rsquot throw that ball to me.&rsquo Gary gave Wilson a post move and there was no one out there. Gary was wide-open. You have to take that shot.

&ldquoThe whole thing about being the first black quarterback to start a Super Bowl, some guys couldn&rsquot have handled that pressure. But not Doug. Doug is going to stand right there in that pocket.&rdquo Darrell Green, Redskins cornerback

We lost the lead quickly. It went from 10-0 to [14-10] and then on from there. We were also up against the Giants at halftime, 10-9, and that lead evaporated. But at that point, you&rsquore not thinking about that [last year&rsquos Super Bowl loss]. You&rsquore just focused on the game you&rsquore playing right then.

When it was 10-0, nothing was said collectively. However, individually, I believe experience taught that much time remained in the game and we needed to increase intensity. When the score suddenly shifted, the defensive captain [safety Dennis Smith] reminded us that we, as a unit, needed to cause turnovers to give the offense as many chances as possible to score points.

They were doing a really good job of isolating their receivers on our defensive backs. Credit to Joe Gibbs and his staff. It was clear they had a great game plan. But it was still a game. At that point.

Second quarter, 6:53 left | Play call: 60 Counter Trey

Rookie Timmy Smith&rsquos 58-yard touchdown run

I didn&rsquot even find out I was starting until we were walking down the tunnel for [pregame] warm-ups. [Running backs coach] Don Breaux comes over and says they&rsquore going to introduce [veteran back] George Rogers but let me start. &lsquoYou&rsquore starting,&rsquo he said. I was like, &lsquoI am?&rsquo

Doug Williams looks to pass against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XXII Jan. 31, 1988, at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California. The Redskins won the Super Bowl 42-10.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Timmy Smith was another great story in that game. Timmy had great physical potential. He was just somebody who was hard to get through to. He played really great that game. And that was about it.

Timmy had a lot of ability. He showed it all that game. And Coach Gibbs was right to wait to tell him he was gonna start. He didn&rsquot need a lot of time to think about it.

As soon as I heard I was starting, my mind just went blank. I couldn&rsquot remember anything. As far as knowing the plays and all that, I forgot everything. Everything.

Timmy looked up to Doug. He listened to Doug, especially when Doug kind of read him the Riot Act.

Doug came over, grabbed me by my jersey and said, &lsquoI&rsquove been playing this game for nine years and I&rsquom not going to let you f&mdash it up for us.&rsquo Right then, the plays started coming back to me. I was ready.

On the touchdown, [Redskins left tackle] Joe Jacoby and [left guard] Raleigh McKenzie came around there and it was like a big gate opened up. The rest of it was Timmy Smith outrunning [Broncos safety] Tony Lilly down the sideline.

You&rsquove got to understand that we had The Hogs. They were a very experienced line. And you&rsquove got to give The Hogs a lot of credit because they put on a show. All I had to do was run. Anytime you can run 10, 15 yards and not get touched, man, the line is doing something.

Second quarter, 4:00 left | Play call: 60 Counter Play Pass

50-yard touchdown pass to Sanders

Because we were running the ball so well, [Broncos safety] Tony Lilly bit on the play-action. Ricky came across the formation. We had the fake [handoff] to the right. Lilly made one step up, and Ricky went up and cross corner to end up behind him.

We&rsquore going back to the sideline after each touchdown, and guys are all asking, &lsquoCan you believe this?&rsquo I don&rsquot know if they [the Broncos] were in shock, but we kind of were. Guys kept asking, &lsquoWhat just happened?&rsquo

Their execution. Great execution.

On my second [touchdown], I actually ran the wrong route. I was supposed to run the low cross route. But I was so hyped up, I ran the deep post. Gary saw what I was doing and he knew he had to change his route. Gary is a good friend of mine, but whenever I see him he talks bad about me. He says I stole one of his touchdowns.

It seemed like Doug and [coach Joe Gibbs] saw a weakness in our secondary. They saw something in our coverage of their receivers that they liked. Doug took advantage of our secondary, as he should have. That&rsquos the biggest game of your career. You want to play your best.

Second quarter, 1:11 left | Play call: Scram 7

8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didier

It was a play that was put in for that game. They called a timeout and they were going to change the play. The coaches and quarterbacks are huddled on the sideline, and [backup quarterback] Jay Schroeder lobbied to keep the play in.

It was a three-receiver set. And it was a good play. But all of the plays Coach Gibbs called that day were great plays.

They kept it in. I ran it, and the rest was history. It was our last one of the quarter. The whole thing was incredible.


Leading by 25 points to start the third quarter, the Redskins eased off the accelerator. They scored only once more, on Smith&rsquos 4-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Redskins continued to dominate the Broncos, holding them scoreless for the game&rsquos final three quarters. But as the Redskins waited for time to expire so they could claim their prize, Williams remained in the spotlight.

The score could have been a lot worse, but you saw sportsmanship at its best from a coach. Coach Gibbs was being respectful to [Denver Broncos head coach] Dan Reeves. Coach Gibbs was a gentleman. Dan Reeves was gentleman. When you have two men like that, you don&rsquot try to embarrass the other man.

There was no better feeling for anybody on that team than the feelings we all had for Doug Williams. We all knew what he had been through. The whole thing with his contract in Tampa, the USFL folding &hellip and coming to Washington as a backup. Then he&rsquos the first black quarterback to start a Super Bowl and he gets hurt and has to come out. But he came back and showed what he&rsquos all about.

You knew Doug wasn&rsquot going to run from anybody. The whole thing about being the first black quarterback to start a Super Bowl, some guys couldn&rsquot have handled that pressure. But not Doug. Doug is going to stand right there in that pocket. That&rsquos his game. But the way he came back and did it after going out &hellip it was incredible. The way it unfolded, man, it was like a movie.

You&rsquore about to win the Super Bowl, so you&rsquore happy for yourself and you&rsquore happy for all your teammates. But just because of everything Doug had to deal with, all that pressure he had on him in San Diego, you had to feel really good for him. After hurting his knee, he just came back and threw the ball around all over the place. Nobody ever threw the ball better in a big game like that.

Obviously, that was the second straight [Super Bowl] that was very disappointing for us, but Doug played a great game. If someone else had to win it, you&rsquod like to see a guy like him win because of how hard he worked.

Tight end Clint Didier celebrates an eight-yard reception during second quarter of Super Bowl XXII against the Denver Broncos at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, Calif. The Redskins won 42-10.

[Denver Broncos defensive coordinator] Joe Collier was a really good coach. For the Redskins to have that type of quarter against a guy like Joe, they had to be operating at a really high level. And that&rsquos the thing. As you watched it, Doug Williams jumped out at you. He did play at such a high level.

I was impressed with all the media attention of the first African-American quarterback to start in the Super Bowl, and what it could mean depending on how he [played]. And although I hated losing the game, once the dust settled, I was proud of his accomplishment. I was proud of the fact that he went out and made a statement. The way things are now, it&rsquos easy to forget that teams in those days were reluctant to put African-Americans in the quarterback position. But he showed that not only could African-American quarterbacks play, they could win championships. Doug proved that.

&ldquoThere was no better feeling for anybody on that team than the feelings we all had for Doug Williams.&rdquo Jeff Bostic, Redskins center

The part I still enjoy more than anything, the part that really means the most to me about what we did that day, is how much it means to black men who are older than me. When those men, who saw so many things and went through so many things, walk up to me as often as they do and say, &lsquoBoy, you just don&rsquot understand what you did,&rsquo it reminds you that after that day, a whole lot changed.

These interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

Doug Williams: Retired after 1989 season. Super Bowl winner. Washington Redskins senior vice president of player personnel.

Joe Gibbs: Three-time Super Bowl winner member, Pro Football Hall of Fame. Owner, Joe Gibbs Racing.

Darrell Green: Retired after 2002 season. Two-time Super Bowl winner member, Pro Football Hall of Fame. Entrepreneur, community leader.

John Elway: Retired after 1998 season. Three-time Super Bowl winner (twice as player, once as executive) member, Pro Football Hall of Fame. Denver Broncos vice president of football operations/general manager.

Mike Shanahan: Three-time Super Bowl winner (twice as head coach, once as high-ranking assistant). Retired.

Jeff Bostic: Retired after 1993 season. Three-time Super Bowl winner. Real estate developer.

Ricky Sanders: Retired after 1995 season. Two-time Super Bowl winner.

Clint Didier: Retired after 1989 season. Two-time Super Bowl winner. Farmer, moving business.

Timmy Smith: Retired after 1990 season. Super Bowl winner. Works in oil business.

Simon Fletcher: Retired after 1995 season. Construction developer, restaurateur.

Finally, Cowboys Get a Victory : Dallas: Return of Redskin quarterback Doug Williams is spoiled.

After enduring eight straight losses, Dallas Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson knows that one victory--even if it’s his first as an NFL coach--is nothing to crow about.

“We’ve got a long way to go. The rocky days are not over for the Cowboys,” Johnson said Sunday night after Dallas won its first game of the post-Tom Landry era by shutting down the Washington Redskins, 13-3.

Paul Palmer rushed for 110 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown as the Cowboys (1-8) won for only the second time in their last 21 games. Both wins have come against the Redskins at RFK Stadium.

“It’s been a frustrating year,” Johnson said. “You might say it’s a relief, a good feeling, to get this win. We’re starting to come together, although we know we have a lot of hard work to do.”

The 0-8 start was the second-worst in Cowboy history. They lost their first 10 games in 1960, their inaugural season under Landry, the man Johnson replaced after Jerry Jones bought the team earlier this year.

By winning, Johnson averted the embarrassment of losing as many games in consecutive weeks in the NFL as he did in five years at Miami, where he won a national championship.

“I felt we could win when it was 3-3 in the third quarter,” Johnson said. “I just didn’t want us to turn the ball over. We have a young team and we’ve had a problem with turnovers.”

Dallas’ victory spoiled the return of Doug Williams, the hero of the Redskins’ Super Bowl victory in January, 1988, who played for the first time since undergoing back surgery in August. Williams completed 28 of 52 passes for 296 yards but was intercepted twice and was unable to get the NFL’s top-ranked offense into the end zone.

“Doug was off tonight,” Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs said. “But I still feel good about my decision to start him, and he wasn’t the only one who was a bit off.”

Williams played despite the recent death of his father. He will leave today for the funeral Tuesday in Zachary, La.

“We couldn’t put anything together, but it wasn’t a one-person loss,” said Williams.

Dallas broke a 3-3 tie late in the third quarter when Palmer, following a block by guard Crawford Ker, burst through the middle for a 47-yard gain to the Washington six. Two plays later, Palmer scored from the two.

It was only the second touchdown in the third quarter for the Cowboys this season.


NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXII to San Diego on May 24, 1984 during their May 23–25, 1984 meetings in Washington, D.C. This was the first Super Bowl played at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.

Fourteen cities were part of the bidding process, which was scheduled to award four Super Bowls (XXI, XXII, XXIII, and XXIV). [6] The bidding cities included: Anaheim, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Pasadena, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, and Tempe. [6] The Philadelphia host committee assembled what was considered a strong, but long-shot bid, hoping to win the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold weather city. [7] Jacksonville and Tempe had no NFL team at the time the Jacksonville Jaguars were founded in 1993 and did not start play until 1995, while the Cardinals moved from St. Louis to Tempe in 1988.

After the balloting for XXI took over two hours to complete, [7] XXII was also voted on, but the voting for XXIII and XXIV was postponed. San Diego was awarded the game, marking the second time consecutive Super Bowls were played in the same state, with Pasadena hosting Super Bowl XXI. This has now happened three times in NFL history Super Bowls II and III were both played at the Miami Orange Bowl and Super Bowls XLIII and XLIV were played in Florida (at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens).

Washington Redskins Edit

The primary storyline surrounding Super Bowl XXII was that Washington's Doug Williams was the first African-American quarterback ever to start in a Super Bowl. This was even more meaningful given that the Redskins had been among the last teams to sign a black player after they reentered the league.

Williams had taken a rather unconventional route to the Super Bowl. He began his career as the first round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1978. After five seasons (including a trip to the NFC championship game in 1979), a contract dispute caused him to leave the team and sit out the entire 1983 season before signing with the Oklahoma Outlaws of the newly formed USFL. When that league folded a few years later, Williams found himself out of a job until Redskins coach Joe Gibbs asked him to join the team to be the backup for quarterback Jay Schroeder. Williams played just one game in 1986, and spent most of the 1987 season on the bench. But injuries and inconsistent play from Schroeder made Gibbs promote Williams to starting quarterback.

Williams had played extremely well in his five regular season games, passing for 1,156 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Redskins' main receiving threat was wide receiver Gary Clark, who caught 56 passes for 1,066 yards, an average of 19 yards per catch. Wide receivers Ricky Sanders and Art Monk were also deep threats, combining for 80 receptions and 1,130 yards. Running back George Rogers was Washington's leading rusher with 613 yards. However, Rogers saw limited action in Super Bowl XXII due to injuries that later forced him into early retirement. Rookie running back Timmy Smith started in his place. Fullback Kelvin Bryant also was a big contributor, rushing for 406 yards, and catching 43 passes for 490 yards during the 1987 season. The Redskins offensive line was anchored by tackle Joe Jacoby, a 4-time pro bowl selection, and future Hall of Fame Center Russ Grimm.

The Redskins also had an excellent defensive unit, led by defensive backs Barry Wilburn, who recorded nine interceptions for 135 return yards and one touchdown Todd Bowles, who intercepted four passes and Darrell Green. Their line was anchored by defensive ends Charles Mann, who led the team with 9.5 sacks and recovered a fumble and Dexter Manley, who recorded 8.5 sacks.

The Redskins finished the 1987 strike-shortened regular season as NFC East champions with an 11–4 record and the third seed in the NFC playoffs.

Denver Broncos Edit

The Broncos advanced to their second consecutive Super Bowl, overall the third appearance in team history. Quarterback John Elway had another excellent season, passing for 3,198 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was also the team's second leading rusher with 304 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receivers Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel, and tight end Clarence Kay, combined for 104 receptions and 1,754 yards. Running back Sammy Winder was the leading rusher with 741 yards and six touchdowns, while fullback Gene Lang rushed for 304 yards and caught 17 receptions. Denver's offensive line was led by guard Keith Bishop, who earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection. The Broncos also possessed a solid defensive unit, led by outside linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, who recorded 7 sacks and picked off three passes, and defensive back Mike Harden with four interceptions. Defensive end Rulon Jones led the line with 7 sacks.

The Broncos finished the strike-shortened 1987 season winning the AFC West with a 10–4–1 record and the number one seed in the AFC playoffs. Dan Reeves was the head coach.

Playoffs Edit

The Broncos routed the Houston Oilers in the Divisional round of the playoffs, 34–10, jumping to a 14–0 first-quarter lead off of two quick Oilers turnovers, with Elway completing 14 of 25 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Vance Johnson recorded four catches for 105 yards, including a 55-yard reception to set up Elway's second touchdown pass. However, Johnson was injured during the game he ended up missing AFC Championship game, and played only sparingly in the Super Bowl. Denver also lost safety Mike Harden for the rest of the season with a broken arm. [8]

Denver then won the AFC Championship Game in exciting fashion over the AFC Central champion Cleveland Browns, 38–33 for the second consecutive year. The Broncos seemed to be in control of the game during the first half, taking a 21–3 lead. However, with quarterback Bernie Kosar, Cleveland rallied back and tied the score 31–31 in the fourth quarter. Elway responded with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Winder, taking the lead back with less than five minutes left in regulation. The Browns took the ball back and drove to the Denver 8-yard line, but the drive ended with a play that became known as The Fumble, resulting in more bad luck in Cleveland professional sports lore: Denver defensive back Jeremiah Castille stripped the football from Browns running back Earnest Byner and recovered the ensuing fumble as Byner was rushing in for the potential tying touchdown, securing the Broncos' win.

Meanwhile, the Redskins had narrow wins in the playoffs. First, they won at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears, 21–17, ending Walter Payton's career. The key play was a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown by Redskins defensive back Darrell Green for the go-ahead touchdown. The Bears' Kevin Butler kicked a field goal to close the deficit to 21–17, but the Bears could get no closer. Noteworthy was the Redskins trailed 14–0 early in the game.

The Redskins won a defensive battle against the surprising Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, 17–10. The Vikings barely made the playoffs with an 8–7 record during the strike-shortened regular season, but advanced to the NFC championship by winning on the road against the teams with the best records in the NFL, defeating the 12–3 New Orleans Saints 44–10, and the 13–2 San Francisco 49ers 36–24. The experienced Redskins, who had narrowly defeated Minnesota in a 27–24 overtime game during Week 15 of the season, put an end to the Vikings' string of upsets, aided by Williams' go-ahead touchdown pass to wide receiver Gary Clark with five minutes remaining to lead 17–10. Then they sealed the victory with 56 seconds left when a hard hit by Green caused running back Darrin Nelson to drop a potential touchdown catch in the end zone on fourth down and four from the Redskins 6-yard line.

Super Bowl pregame news Edit

Coming into Super Bowl XXII, the Broncos were favored to win (−3 as noted on the NFL Today show by Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder) because most experts thought both teams were equal in terms of talent with Elway presumed to be the superior quarterback to Williams. Elway had won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and was selected to start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, while Williams had played just five regular season games in the 1987 season.

Before the game, it was announced that Williams underwent emergency root canal treatment for an abscessed lower right molar the previous night. Team dentist Barry Rudolph said there were no complications, and Williams then was pronounced fit to start. [9]

As the designated home team in the annual rotation between AFC and NFC teams, the Broncos opted to wear their home orange uniforms and white pants. The Redskins, as the road team, countered with white uniforms and burgundy pants, which they also wore in their two previous Super Bowl appearances during the 1980s.

The game was broadcast in the United States by ABC with play-by-play announcer Al Michaels and color commentators Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf. Keith Jackson hosted the pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage for ABC, joined by analysts Lynn Swann and Mike Adamle as well as then Cleveland Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer and then Minnesota Vikings head coach Jerry Burns. (Bob Griese was originally supposed to co-host with Jackson, but had to bow out due to a family illness, as his wife Judi was in the late stages of breast cancer, from which she died on February 15, 1988. [10] ) Also helping with ABC's coverage were Jack Whitaker, Jim Hill and Becky Dixon. This was the first Super Bowl broadcast on ABC with the broadcast team of Michaels, Gifford, and Dierdorf in the booth (as the 1987 season was the first year the trio was together, with Dierdorf moving to ABC from CBS Gifford was the only holdover from ABC's Super Bowl XIX telecast). The trio went on to man the booth for ABC's Monday Night Football from 1987 to 1997 and called Super Bowls XXV and XXIX.

It was simulcast in Canada on CTV and in the United Kingdom on Channel 4. It was also the first Super Bowl in which Mexico's Televisa brought a team of its own (instead of relying on the U.S. signal with comments made from Mexico City), airing on its Canal de las Estrellas.

The game was broadcast nationally on radio by CBS, with Jack Buck handling the play-by-play duties and color commentator Hank Stram in the broadcast booth, and Jim Hunter reporting from the sidelines. Brent Musburger anchored the Super Bowl XXII pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage with analysis from Will McDonough and Jimmy Snyder for CBS. Locally, Super Bowl XXII was broadcast on WMAL-AM in Washington, D.C. by Frank Herzog, Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgenson, and on KOA-AM in Denver, Colorado by Bob Martin and Larry Zimmer.

Locally, Super Bowl XXII was shown on WJLA-TV, the Washington, D.C. ABC affiliate and on KUSA-TV, the Denver, Colorado ABC affiliate.

The Wonder Years premiered on ABC immediately following the game. This was only the second successful series to debut following a Super Bowl up to that time (The A-Team, which had premiered following Super Bowl XVII, was the first). The Wonder Years was a late switch by ABC which had initially scheduled the two-hour premiere of China Beach for the post Super Bowl slot, but concerns about the game running long and potentially pushing the premiere episode's conclusion after midnight contributed to the program change. [11] The NFL Films NFL's Greatest Games highlight film was titled Ambush at Super Bowl XXII and was the first such highlight film to feature former Boston and Buffalo radio personality Jeff Kaye as its narrator.

The pregame festivities featured a tribute to entertainer Bob Hope, who was approaching the age of 85. Members representing the military service branches marched out onto the field in full dress uniforms, and in unison saluted Bob Hope for his dedication to helping the troops. Trumpeter Herb Alpert performed "The Star-Spangled Banner", while Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Hutson participated in the coin toss ceremony (the game happened to coincide with Hutson's 75th birthday). Alpert's performance was the last non-vocal performance of the National Anthem in a Super Bowl to date.

The halftime show, produced by Radio City Music Hall, was titled "Something Grand" and featured performances by vocalist Chubby Checker, The Rockettes, and 88 grand pianos. Among the 44 Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, American performer Jennifer Jones made her national debut as its first African American Rockette. Checker's performance marked the first time a major artist performed during the show.

This was the final Super Bowl to feature the football-style logo at the 35-yard-line which had been in use since Super Bowl XIV.

First quarter Edit

Super Bowl XXII started out very well for the Denver Broncos. After forcing Washington to go three-and-out, the Broncos scored on their first play from scrimmage, when quarterback John Elway threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ricky Nattiel, giving Denver a 7–0 lead after just 1:57 had elapsed in the game. It was the earliest touchdown any team had ever scored in Super Bowl history to that point (the record was later broken by Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXIX, and again by Devin Hester in Super Bowl XLI). The Broncos quickly forced Washington to punt, and once again Elway displayed his superb scrambling skills. On the second play of Denver's ensuing possession, Elway completed a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Mark Jackson. Then, he caught a 23-yard pass from halfback Steve Sewell, becoming the first quarterback ever to catch a pass in the Super Bowl (Elway had scored a touchdown on that play during opening day the previous year against the Raiders). The Redskins managed to halt Denver's drive on the 6, but kicker Rich Karlis kicked a field goal to increase the Broncos' lead to 10–0.

After yet another Redskins punt, Denver managed to drive to the Washington 30 on their third possession with two runs by Gene Lang for a total of 24 yards and an 18-yard reception by Sewell. But this time they failed to score because Washington safety Alvin Walton sacked Elway for an 18-yard loss on third down, pushing the Broncos out of field goal range.

Meanwhile, the Redskins could not generate any offensive momentum in the first quarter, with the Broncos' defense forcing a punt on every drive. To make matters worse, late in the period, quarterback Doug Williams twisted his back leg while planting to make a throw and had to leave the game. Williams was untouched by a Bronco defender before he dropped the ball while falling to the ground the referee, however, inadvertently blew his whistle, stopping the play & costing Denver a fumble recovery and an almost certain fumble return touchdown and a 17-0 lead. Backup quarterback Jay Schroeder was sacked by Denver's Karl Mecklenburg on his first snap, continuing the Redskins' offensive woes. By the time the quarter ended, the Broncos had more than twice as many total yards of offense (142) as the Redskins (64). In the previous 21 Super Bowls, no team had ever overcome a 10-point deficit to win.

Second quarter Edit

Williams returned with 14:17 left in the second quarter, and the Washington offense began to click. And much like they had in the second half of Super Bowl XXI against the New York Giants, the Broncos defense collapsed.

On the Redskins' first play of the second quarter, receiver Ricky Sanders got behind defensive back Mark Haynes (who tried to jam him at the line of scrimmage) and safety Tony Lilly, caught a pass from Williams, and took it 80 yards for a touchdown. After forcing the Broncos to punt on their next possession, Washington advanced to the Denver 27. Facing third-and-one, Williams connected with receiver Gary Clark who made a diving catch in the end zone to give Washington a 14–10 lead.

After the ensuing kickoff, Denver drove to the Washington 26, aided by running back Sammy Winder's 27-yard reception and Elway's 21-yard run. But left tackle Dave Studdard, blocking defensive end Dexter Manley, went down with a knee injury. After Elway threw an incomplete pass on third down, Karlis missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. On the first play of the Redskins' ensuing drive, Williams threw a 16-yard completion to Clark. Then on the next play, running back Timmy Smith, a rookie in his first NFL start, took off for a 58-yard touchdown run, with blocking from guard Raleigh McKenzie and tackle Joe Jacoby, making the score 21–10. [9] Washington's offensive line featuring McKenzie and Jacoby figured greatly in a play known as the Counter Gap, which the Skins ran repeatedly in the game. [12]

The Redskins increased their lead to 28–10 on their next possession with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Sanders, making him the first player in Super Bowl history to catch two touchdowns in one quarter. Four plays after the ensuing kickoff, Washington defensive back Barry Wilburn intercepted a pass from Elway on the Redskins 21, and once again, the Redskins stormed down the field to score. First, Smith broke loose for a 43-yard run, then Williams completed a pair of passes to Sanders to reach the Denver 7. Two plays later, Williams threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didier to make the score 35–10. On Denver's next drive, Elway completed three consecutive passes for 40 total yards to advance to the Redskins 36. However, Washington rookie defensive back Brian Davis intercepted Elway's next pass at the 21 with seven seconds left in the half.

In the second quarter alone, Williams completed 9 of 11 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns Smith rushed five times for 122 yards and a touchdown and Sanders caught five passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. The Redskins scored 35 points and gained 356 yards in total offense, both Super Bowl records, and scored five touchdowns on 18 total offensive plays.

During the regular season, the Broncos had allowed 35 points for the entire game only once—and it was in that game, a 40-10 loss to the Houston Oilers in Week 4, that they fielded replacement players, with the regular players having gone on strike.

Washington's 25-point lead at the half surpassed the previous record of 20 points set by San Francisco in Super Bowl XVI.

Second half Edit

By the end of the game, Elway was sacked five times and threw three interceptions, and Washington scored another touchdown on a 68-yard fourth-quarter drive featuring a 25-yard run by Clark on a reverse and three runs by Smith for 43 yards, the last a 4-yard touchdown to bring the game to its final score of 42–10.

Smith finished the game with a Super Bowl record 204 rushing yards, and scored two touchdowns. Sanders caught nine passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, and returned three kickoffs for 46 yards. His 193 receiving yards and his 235 total offensive yards were both Super Bowl records, and his 80-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter also tied a Super Bowl record. Clark caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing once for 25 yards. Wilburn recorded two interceptions, while Walton had two sacks. Meanwhile, running back Gene Lang was the Broncos' leading rusher, with only 38 yards on five carries. Elway finished the game with 14 out of 38 pass completions for 257 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He was also Denver's second-leading rusher with 32 yards on three carries this was the only Super Bowl in which Elway played without scoring a rushing touchdown. Jackson was Denver's top receiver with four catches for 76 yards.

In 2015, on the occasion of Super Bowl 50, Slate writer Justin Peters watched all the games over a two-month period. He considered Super Bowl XXII to be the best Super Bowl ever, declaring it was, "The most significant Super Bowl ever played. The most unlikely comeback from the most unlikely quarterback, Doug Williams, who led his team to score 35 points in the second quarter: a single-quarter Super Bowl scoring record that still stands!" [13]

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Doug Williams embraces history

RUSTON, La. -- In a comfortable ranch home not far from Route 20, the Williams family gathered around the television.

Doug, his wife, Raunda, and son D.J. watched the pomp and circumstance unfold in Washington, D.C. It was Martin Luther King Day and Barack Obama was solemnly swearing on two bibles -- one, formerly owned by King himself, the other by Abraham Lincoln -- that he would faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States for another four years.

Two of the Williams girls, Laura, 7, and Lee, 4, covertly jousted with sharp elbows, their brown eyes gleaming with glee, if not understanding. Some day, they will grasp the significance of the moment. They will also learn that their father has a special place on this continuum.

"Absolutely," said Dr. Harry Edwards, a University of California-Berkley sociologist. "I think we have to understand the history of sports' contribution to the broader culture."

There is a direct line of ascent, Edwards said, from Jackie Robinson to Bill Russell, to Jim Brown to Curt Flood to Doug Williams to Barack Obama.

Twenty-five years ago, he was breaking barriers. Now, Doug Williams coaches a new generation at Grambling, his alma mater. Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images

It has been 25 years since Williams led the Washington Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII, becoming the first African-American quarterback to win the ultimate football game. And surprisingly, he remains the only one.

Williams, although moved by Obama's inauguration, downplayed even a minor role in making it possible.

"That's Dr. Edwards' profession, and I appreciate that, for putting me up there," Williams said, shaking his head. "But for me, it's a tough stretch to actually put it in that context."

But during a break in a TV interview, Williams acknowledged, "It's a great day to be doing this. A great day."

A long line

Williams, now 57, wasn't the NFL's first black quarterback -- far from it.

In 1923, halfback Fritz Pollard took direct snaps from center for the Hammond Pros. The aptly named Willie Thrower was the first African-American to play the position exclusively, as a backup for the Chicago Bears in 1953. Fifteen years later, Marlin Briscoe became the first to start a game, for the Denver Broncos. Williams supplied the timeline from there, eagerly mentioning James Harris and Joe Gilliam.

Before the 1978 NFL draft, Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs was dispatched to see Grambling State University's 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback. Gibbs spent two days sitting in on Williams' substitute teaching stints and eating hamburgers with him.

Joe Gibbs initially planned to honor a trade request from Doug Williams but later changed his mind. Focus on Sport/Getty Images

In his scouting report, Gibbs wrote that Williams was "football smart" and worthy of the Buccaneers' first-round draft choice at No. 17. Williams took Tampa Bay to the playoffs three times in five seasons, including the 1979 NFC Championship Game. But when his salary became an issue -- he was making $120,000 a year, the lowest among the league's starting quarterbacks -- Williams left for the nascent USFL. After the league folded in 1986, Gibbs was the head coach of the Washington Redskins and signed Williams as a backup to Jay Schroeder.

Before the 1987 season, frustrated over his playing time, Williams asked Gibbs for a trade. Gibbs told Williams he was close to working out a deal with the Raiders. That night, Gibbs changed his mind.

Today, Gibbs, 72, presides over a successful NASCAR team. A few weeks ago, he sat in the break room at Joe Gibbs Racing in suburban Charlotte, N.C., and laughed when he recalled Williams' response.

"He was kind of upset, stormed out," Gibbs said. "I said, 'Doug, for some reason I don't think we ought to do this. For some reason, I think you could be a big part of us here with the Redskins in the future.'

"Of course, we wind up starting Doug toward the end of that year. And the rest of it's history."

Feeling the fear

Nobody said it out loud -- those thoughts were confined to discussions in the privacy of team facilities -- but there was once a widespread belief that African-Americans couldn't deal with the complexities of playing quarterback in the NFL. For years, black college quarterbacks were steered to other positions, like running back or wide receiver or safety.

Forty years after Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, the perception still existed.

"Nobody of the other race ever said, 'Hey, I think that this player is not as smart,' but that was in the air," said former Redskins cornerback and Hall of Famer Darrell Green.

Growing up in Zachary, La., right off Highway 67, which ran from Baton Rouge clear to Mississippi, Williams sometimes felt the fear.

"I was born in 1955, and civil rights didn't come into play until 1965," he said. "I've had milkshakes in my face, eggs thrown at me, rocks thrown at me, you name it. Every Friday, basically, at each end of the intersection of Plank Road there was a cross burning."

Early in his career at Tampa Bay, he received a package. There was no return address. Inside was a rotten watermelon with the inscription, "Throw this to the n-----s, see if they can catch this."

He learned that mail without a return address, "nine times out of 10, it's not a good letter," and he would toss it.

The question

About 3,000 credentialed media were in San Diego for Super Bowl XXII between the Redskins and Denver Broncos, and Williams' race was among the leading topics.

Doug Williams' role as the first African-American quarterback to start in the Super Bowl dominated news coverage before the game and prompted an infamous exchange. Mike Powell/Getty Images

The exchange that defined that difficult dance in Williams' mandatory media appearances has metastasized into an urban legend. Virtually everyone interviewed for this story referenced it.

The question came from Butch John of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. Bob Kravitz, then of the Rocky Mountain News, now a columnist at the Indianapolis Star, reported it this way: "Doug, obviously, you've been a black quarterback your whole life. When did race begin to matter to people?"

Williams responded, "How long have I been a black quarterback?"

Michael Wilbon, then a Washington Post columnist and now with ESPN, confirmed Kravitz's version of the question.

Sitting in his recreation room years later, Williams patiently suffered a series of questions surrounding the (in)famous Q&A.

"I just remember, 'How long have you been a black quarterback?'" Williams insisted. "And that's the only question I heard 25 years ago.

"Lo and behold, I really understood where he was coming from, and I think he just got caught up in the moment and the question did not come out the way he would have loved for it to come out. But that's the way it came out. It's obvious that I could have not changed from being black that quick, so I had to be black all my life."

Williams laughed, his eyes disappearing into his angular face.

"The way I answered it was the fact that I had been a black quarterback only when I left Grambling," he said. "Because when I left Grambling, I was just Grambling's quarterback."

At Grambling, a predominantly black school, Williams' race was rarely referenced.

In the NFL, "every article that was written, every adjective was 'Tampa's black quarterback' or 'black quarterback Doug Williams,'" he said. "It was never just the way it is today."

Contemplating history

The night before a Super Bowl, the immense pressure of playing the biggest game of their lives weighs on players. Atlanta's Eugene Robinson, Cincinnati's Stanley Wilson, Green Bay's Max McGee and Oakland's Barret Robbins all felt the strain.

After the Redskins fell behind 10-0, Doug Williams rallied them to a 42-10 victory over the Broncos. Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

Doug Williams was visited by a different demon: a toothache. While his Redskins teammates were relaxing that Saturday, Williams endured a root canal. He returned as the team was packing up to go to the last-night, secret hotel, the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido, Calif.

"They pipe that Lawrence Welk music in there," Williams recalled. "With being in pain and that music in your ear, it didn't work."

Williams did his best to smother the pain. He reviewed the game plan and watched television, getting only a few hours of sleep. Happily, he awoke with no pain in his jaw.

On the bus ride to Jack Murphy Stadium, Williams said, his entire career played in his mind: playing with his brother as a youth, playing at Chaneyville High School in Zachary, La., playing for coach Eddie Robinson and Grambling, the ups and downs in Tampa, the USFL and the unlikely opportunity to win a Super Bowl. He had played in only five regular-season games before Gibbs named him the starter for the playoffs.

"He's got more than a game on his back," the Reverend Al Sharpton, a veteran of the Civil Rights movement, said recently. "He's got history on his back, the hopes and dreams of a whole race. 'How did I get all this? I'm just a football player.'

"But it wasn't just another game, and he wasn't just another player -- not that day."

The Broncos scored on their first play from scrimmage and led 10-0 in the first quarter when Williams fell awkwardly while being sacked.

"He does the split and he's hurt," said Green. "And you're thinking, 'Oh, my goodness.'"

Williams barked at the trainers when they ran onto the field.

"I said, 'Don't touch me,'" Williams said. "'Don't touch me, because if the good Lord let me get up, I'm going to finish the game.'"

Twice as good

The poet Langston Hughes lived in post-World War II New York, which inspired his poem "Harlem," published in 1951. "What happens to a dream deferred?" it began. "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?"

Hughes concludes, "Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?"

The italics were Hughes'. Scholars say that the poem predicted the social conflict that would later unfold in major U.S. cities. The second quarter of Super Bowl XXII featured upheaval of a different kind.

"It was kind of scary in that first quarter when you're down 10-nothing," said former Redskins guard Russ Grimm, most recently an assistant head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. "But then, it explodes in the second quarter."

Schroeder had relieved Williams for two plays, the first a sack. And then Williams, limping, came back onto the field.

"I'll always remember this as one of the things that happened to me in football," Gibbs said, laughing. "Doug told Schroeder, 'This is my team -- out.'"

Doug Williams threw four touchdown passes in Super Bowl XXII to capture the MVP award. AP Photo

No team had ever overcome a 10-point deficit in the Super Bowl, but when the play call "Charlie-10-Hitch" came in, Williams thought it might work. The play was designed as a 7-yard hitch route, and Williams knew receiver Ricky Sanders would try to get past Denver cornerback Mark Haynes and sprint downfield. Haynes missed the jam, and Williams lofted a majestic spiral that went for an 80-yard touchdown. One play into the second quarter, and it was 10-7.

The Redskins would run 18 plays in the 15-minute period and score 35 points -- a Super Bowl record for a half, not to mention a quarter. Williams threw for four touchdowns.

Washington won 42-10, and Williams was named the Most Valuable Player.

Walking through the tunnel after the game, Williams was reunited with Robinson, his coach at Grambling.

"We both were hugging, crying," said Williams, standing 25 years later on the very spot in what is now known as Qualcomm Stadium. "The one thing that Coach Robinson told me that day [was] I would never understand the impact and the significance of that game until I got older. And he was so right."

A shot of adrenaline

When Doug Williams Jr. was 6 years old, his father asked him a question.

"D.J., do you understand what your dad did?" Doug queried.

"I'm just a little kid," D.J. remembered. "I'd see people coming up to my father all the time, and I never really understood what he had done in the NFL, for black history and all that."

Doug popped in a tape that day and, for the first time, the son saw his father in the Super Bowl.

"This guy was throwing the ball all over the field against the great John Elway," D.J. explained. "I was like, 'Dad, is that you?'"

Today, D.J. is a sophomore at Grambling, where his father is the head coach. D.J. is the starting quarterback.

A year after Williams' breakthrough victory, for the first time, two African-American quarterbacks started in the Pro Bowl.

Warren Moon, who started in the Pro Bowl the year after Doug Williams won the Super Bowl, says Williams helped shatter stereotypes. Peter Brouillet/Getty Images

One of them was Warren Moon. "The social impact that Doug had in winning the Super Bowl was tremendous in the African-American community," Moon said.

"An African-American could win the biggest game, in the most popular sport, [most] popular position [requiring] the most leadership. Doug was able to do that and answer so many questions and so many stereotypes."

Randall Cunningham, the MVP of that Pro Bowl, was the other starting quarterback. "People were shallow-minded back in the past," said Cunningham. "It's not about a man's color doesn't matter anymore."

Six years ago, for the first time, two African-American head coaches opposed each other in the Super Bowl. Tony Dungy's Colts beat Lovie Smith's Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI.

This year, three young African-American quarterbacks generated ecstatic headlines in the NFL. Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick all led their teams into the playoffs, but their talent -- not their color -- was the story. Kaepernick has a chance to become the second African-American quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

Back in the day, Williams said, there wasn't an article written that didn't include the word "black." Today, he says, "you don't read about Seattle's quarterback, you don't read about the Washington Redskins' quarterback, the Tampa quarterback being black. They just happen to be their quarterback, and I think that's the way it should be. Hopefully, that's the way it will be from here through eternity."

Top 10 Greatest Redskins QBs of All Time

When talking about the greatest Redskins quarterbacks of all time, I was reminded of the unconventional way that the team won all of their Super Bowls. Under HC Joe Gibbs in the 1980s and ‘90s, the Redskins won three Super Bowls using three different quarterbacks, something no other coach has done in NFL history. This stat is a testament to how great those Redskins teams were and how dominant they were without a true franchise quarterback. Although the ‘Skins may have never had a player like Drew Brees or Tom Brady to lead the team, they have still certainly had some quality signal-callers in the past. In this article, I’m going to be ranking the top ten greatest quarterbacks in franchise history.

1. Sammy Baugh

No surprise for the top ranking here. “Slingin’ Sammy” changed the way that the game of football is played. He was the first quarterback in NFL history to have an offense tailored to his abilities, and the Redskins became a dangerous passing offense. Baugh’s accuracy and ability to throw the ball were unheard of at the time, and other quarterbacks and teams took note of Baugh’s newfound way to get the ball downfield. He is credited as being the first drop-back quarterback in NFL history.

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2. Joe Theismann

Having played his entire 12-year career in Washington, Theismann is perhaps the longest-tenured “franchise QB” in team history. He was the full-time starter for eight of those seasons. In his career for the burgundy and gold, Theismann was a two-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl Champion, and league MVP in 1983. Sadly, his career was cut short by a devastating leg injury he suffered in 1985. Nonetheless, Theismann is still a Redskins all-time great and the all-time leading passer in franchise history.

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3. Sonny Jurgensen

After spending the seven years of his career his Philadelphia, Sonny Jurgensen would find a home for the next 11 seasons with the Redskins. In those 11 seasons, Jurgensen would lead the NFL in passing yards and completions three times, making four Pro Bowls along the way. He would help the ‘Skins reach Super Bowl VII, where they would lose to the undefeated Miami Dolphins. Jurgensen would go on to broadcast Redskins games on the radio up until his retirement in 2019.

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4. Mark Rypien

Despite making his NFL debut at age 26, Mark Rypien certainly made up for his late start with his play on the field. In six seasons in Washington, Rypien was a quality starter and two-time Pro Bowler with the club. His best season came in 1991 when he led the Redskins to a Super Bowl XXVI, where they would win the game, and Rypien would be named Super Bowl MVP. He might not be an all-time great, but he is immortalized in Redskins history for all he did for the burgundy and gold.

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5. Doug Williams

Doug Williams was never able to show much as a regular starter in the NFL, but he came up big when it mattered most. Going into the 1987 postseason, HC Joe Gibbs decided to start Williams, despite him only starting two games in the regular season. This decision would go on to be one of the best in team history, as Williams would lead the Redskins all the way to a dominant 42-10 victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. Williams would be named Super Bowl MVP after tossing a then Super Bowl record four TD passes in the big game.

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6. Billy Kilmer

After spending the first eight years of his career in San Francisco and New Orleans, Billy Kilmer would play his final eight seasons as a Washington Redskin. Kilmer would lead the ‘Skins to the playoffs five times, including a trip to Super Bowl VII against the Miami Dolphins. He finished his Redskins career as a one-time Pro Bowler and held a solid 50-23-1 as a starter. Kilmer was a quality starter who is often forgotten about by Redskins fans.

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7. Kirk Cousins

Cousins’ run in Washington ended on a sour note, but that shouldn’t take away from everything he accomplished with the team. After mainly being a backup for the first three seasons of his career, Cousins would get his chance to start in 2015. He would lead the NFL in completion percentage that season and lead the ‘Skins to an NFC East title. Cousins would throw for over 4,000 yards in each of his three seasons as the Redskins starter and made the Pro Bowl in 2016. Whether Redskins fans like it or not, Cousins was perhaps the best quarterback the team has had this century.

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8. Robert Griffin III

Although Griffin was never able to become the franchise quarterback that many thought he would become for the Redskins, he makes this list for his magical 2012 rookie campaign. Griffin, alongside rookie running back Alfred Morris, took a 3-6 Redskins team on a seven-game winning streak to go 10-6 and claim their first NFC East title since 1999. Griffin wowed fans with his strong throwing arm and ability to make plays on his feet. While the decision to trade up to draft him may have backfired, Redskins fans will always remember that 2012 season.

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9. Jay Schroeder

Jay Schroeder is another quarterback who is often forgotten about by Redskins fans. In three seasons with the Redskins, Schroeder amassed an impressive 24-7 record as a starter and made the Pro Bowl in 1986. He was the regular-season starter for the ‘Skins when they won the Super Bowl in 1987, but was benched in favor of Doug Williams in the playoffs. He would leave the Redskins to join the Raiders the next season and would play in the NFL for another seven years before his retirement.

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10. Jason Campbell

Campbell was drafted in 2005 by the Redskins, just one pick behind Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, Campbell did not have the same production that Rodgers has had in Green Bay. Campbell was the full-time starter for three seasons in Washington. In those three seasons, he was able to reach #7 on the all-time Redskins passing list. He was the starter for a team that would make the playoffs in 2007. However, he was injured late in the season and did not start the ‘Skins playoff game against Seattle. Campbell makes this list, not for his play, but rather because there weren’t many quarterbacks left to choose from.

Greatest Sports Accomplishment: Doug Williams' Super Bowl Win

The position of quarterback has been a microcosm of the black man's struggle in America—a door supposedly “open to all”—except for us of a darker hue who continuously knock, kick, and scream until an answer comes.

For 80 years, the black man has fought tooth and nail to lead a professional football franchise to glory. Many came before Doug Williams, and some of them may have even been better skilled. But looking back on the life of Douglas Lee Williams—none were better prepared.

My mother says, “The Lord chooses whom he will.” If you ask Williams about being the Chosen One, he places it at the feet of hard work, opportunity, and determination more than anything.

Born the sixth of eight children in Zachary, LA, to Robert and Laura Williams, Doug learned the lessons of hard work at an early age. His father was wounded in the attacks on Pearl Harbor, but was able to make a living as a construction worker and nightclub manager. His mother worked as a school cook. Money was hard to come by in the Williams household, but it remained a close-knit home.

Williams was active in all sports, especially in football, where he found his niche at quarterback.

Coming out of high school, Doug was only recruited by two schools, Southern University and Grambling State University. It was Williams’ conversation with legendary coach Eddie Robinson that won Williams over and convinced him to attend Grambling.

It would be one of several conversations with Robinson that would carry Williams through the course of his life.

Williams’ freshman season at Grambling was a forgettable one—he was redshirted, which resulted in his grades and confidence dropping off. His father was so troubled that he considered removing Williams from school and finding him work. His sophomore season worked out better—he was penciled in as the team’s third-string quarterback.

Once again, not feeling satisfied with the results, Williams considered leaving the team, but coach Robinson talked him into staying on.

When it seemed darkest for Williams—opportunity presented itself. The Tigers' starting quarterback was lost to injury, allowing Williams to work his way into the starting role. From that day on, Williams would not relinquish the position. He would finish out the remainder of the 1974 season, and his remaining three seasons, as Grambling’s signal caller.

Williams enjoyed a magnificent career for the Tigers. He would win 35 of 40 games as a starter, while winning four consecutive SWAC titles. In 1977, Williams was named a first team All-American by the Associated Press and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

He would leave Grambling with 8,411 passing yards and 93 touchdowns, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education.

In the 1978 NFL Draft, Williams would be the first quarterback taken, with the 17th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Other notables selected: Earl Campbell, Art Still, Wes Chandler, James Lofton, Clay Matthews, Mike Kenn, John Jefferson, and Ozzie Newsome. and that was just the first round.

Williams' rookie season began with a contract dispute that would eventually end with him making $565,000 for five seasons. In spite of his late arrival, he would win the starting job, and he led the downtrodden Bucs to an 4-4 record through eight games.

In Week 10, Williams would suffer a broken jaw, an injury from which he would recover from in time to play in the season finale. Despite a shortened season, Williams would be named to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team.

The 1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to be a team of destiny, finishing the season 10-6. They would go on to win the Central Division and face the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs.

I remember this game vividly, because of the three names I heard all afternoon: Lee Roy Selmon, Ricky Bell (who the Eagles could not stop for anything), and Doug Williams. It was a long day for Jaws and the vaunted Philly O-line who had no answer for Selmon. Williams did just enough to win, as the Bucs would go on to record one of the great upsets in NFL history.

The following week the Bucs would host the NFC Championship game against the Los Angeles Rams. Williams tore his biceps muscle, and missed most of the third and all of the fourth quarter, and despite a yeoman defensive effort, the Bucs would fall 9-0.

Williams would have to wait eight more years before his next shot at the Super Bowl.

For eight years, there was no game plan or pregame speech that could prepare Doug Williams for the all-out blitz he was going to encounter.

In 1982, things got off to a good start. Williams married Janice Goss, and he would once again lead the Bucs to the playoffs in a strike-shortened season. Again the Bucs would fall short to the Dallas Cowboys 30-17. Williams' initial contract with the Bucs had expired, and with contract negotiations looming, Williams looked forward to a windfall payday.

Bucs management offered Williams $400,000 per season. As negotiations continued, Williams' wife began to experience severe headaches. In April of 1983, it was discovered that a brain tumor had developed, surgery was scheduled immediately to remove the tumor, but Janice died a week later.

With his life shattered and career in limbo, Williams would head back to Zachary. His stay there would bring little comfort. His father Robert would develop health problems that would lead to the amputation of both legs. Williams’ talks with the Bucs would ultimately break down, ending his association with the club.

During Williams’ negotiations with the Bucs, the United States Football League (USFL) was formed. Bill Tatham, owner of the Oklahoma Outlaws, reached out to Williams and offered him a substantial contract. Williams played three seasons in the USFL. He was unsure that he would receive an offer from the NFL, so he took a coaching job at Southern University.

In 1986, the USFL officially folded. Williams was just settling in at Southern U. when he received an unlikely call from Washington Redskins' head coach Joe Gibbs, who knew Williams from his years in Tampa Bay.

Williams would sign with the ‘Skins as the backup to Jay Schroeder. But Gibbs saw bigger things for Williams. In a conversation with ‘Skins owner Jack Kent Cooke, Gibbs let his confidence in Williams be known.

“‘I’m not going to pay him $500,000 to be a backup," Cooke said. But Gibbs was adamant, "He may not be a backup, He may win a Super Bowl for us one day."

Despite a new lease on his football career, Williams’ personal difficulties continued. He married Lisa Robinson in June of 1987, but the union only lasted about five months.

Jay Schroeder was the opening day starter, and he was injured in the opener against the Eagles. Williams would become the starter, but a 24-day strike allowed Schroeder to heal. Again, as fate would allow, Williams would hurt his back and Schroeder would regain his starting job. Williams was reduced to tears, as his final shot seemed wasted as the playoffs loomed.

In the season’s final game the ‘Skins needed a win against the Vikings to get a higher seed, and possibly home field in the playoffs. Schroeder plays a terrible first half and is pulled by Gibbs in the third quarter. Williams is put in, leads the ‘Skins to victory, and is named the starter for the playoffs.

Williams would throw three touchdowns in the Redskins' two playoff victories against the Bears and Vikings.

Although the Denver Broncos, a stupid question, a toothache, and a hyper-extended knee stood in the way of history, it would take an embarrassment from the previous season, and the hopes of those that came before him, to pull Williams through.

In the 1986 NFC Championship Game against the Giants, Jay Schroeder was knocked silly by Lawrence Taylor. Gibbs sent Williams onto the field to sub for Schroeder, but Schroeder furiously waved Williams off. As if to say, "I’d rather fall on my own sword in defeat, before I allow you to lead us to victory."

Williams took that show of disrespect and filed it away, vowing that if the tables ever turned, Schroeder would never be under center as long as they wore the same uniform.

Williams would return and on his first play from scrimmage, he hit Ricky Sanders with an 80-yard strike to cut the lead to 10-7. After a Denver punt, Williams found Gary Clark on a 27-yard touchdown pass. Unsung hero Timmy Smith (202 rushing yards) broke off a 58-yard scamper to make the score 21-10. Williams wasn’t done yet. Before halftime, he would throw his third and fourth touchdowns of the quarter to Sanders and tight end Clint Didier, respectively.

Before you could blink, Williams had thrown four touchdowns in the second quarter, and the ‘Skins put up a total of 35 points on the Broncos, which put the game out of reach before halftime. The Broncos would not score again in a 42-10 defeat.

Williams had made history, and in his contribution, he carried the spirits of those before him: Fritz Pollard, Willie Thrower, George Taliaferro, Sandy Stephens, Marlin Briscoe, James "Shack" Harris, Joe Gilliam, John Walton, and Vince Evans.

When a door seemed closed, Williams kept coming back. Whether it was the death of his young wife or a root canal, Doug Williams just kept getting up. Williams may never get into the Hall of Fame, and he may never become a head coach in the NFL. But for one day in January, Doug Williams was the greatest football player on the planet.

Doug Williams historic Redskins' Super Bowl still has relevance 30 years later

It’s been 30 years since the Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XXII, however, that historical victory is still very relevant in 2018. When former Redskins quarterback and current Senior Vice-President of Player Personnel Doug Williams was carried off the field as the MVP of Super Bowl XXII, he shattered a professional football glass ceiling.

On this day 30 years ago, @Redskins quarterback Doug Williams became the first African American QB in @NFLhistory to play, win, and receive MVP honors in a @SuperBowl! #SBXXII

&mdash NFL (@NFL) January 31, 2018

The former Grambling State standout became the first African-American quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl title. In that game, the Denver Broncos lead by Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway took an early 10-0 lead after the first quarter.

Congratulations to Doug Williams on the 30th Anniversary of wining the Super Bowl MVP in our win over the @Broncos @Redskins #superbowl @nflnetwork

&mdash Charley Casserly (@CharleyCasserly) January 31, 2018

The Broncos dreams of winning their first Super Bowl championship quickly became a nightmare when Williams would lead one of the greatest offensive onslaughts in Super Bowl history. During the second quarter of the NFL’s annual championship game, the Zachary, Louisiana native put on a passing clinic that left the Broncos completely overwhelmed.

30 years ago today, Doug Williams became the 1st African American QB to play in a Super Bowl (and win by destroying Denver 42-10) and 1st to pass for 4 TDs in a single quarter of the big game.

Pay homage.

&mdash HOMAGE (@HOMAGE) January 31, 2018

Williams would throw for four touchdown passes and the Redskins would score 35 unanswered points in that historical quarter. It would mark the first time in the history of the Super Bowl that a signal caller would complete four touchdown passes in a quarter.

Despite scoring one more touchdown in the fourth quarter, the domination of the Broncos lead by Williams in the second quarter, sealed Denver’s fate. Williams completed 18 passes in 29 attempts for 340 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of Super Bowl XXII & the #Redskins' second Lombardi trophy. Today, Senior VP of Player Personnel Doug Williams was surprised by coaches & staff to celebrate the occasion.

&mdash Washington Redskins (@Redskins) January 30, 2018

The Redskins winning their second Super Bowl in five years felt more like a Jackie Robinson moment for the NFL than a franchise winning a title. Recently during a broadcast on Redskins Nation, Larry Michael was interviewing Williams when several Redskins coaches, players and staff, presented him with a cake to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Super Bowl XXII.

Washington #Redskins staff celebrate Doug Williams' 1987 Super Bowl MVP performance on the eve of his 30th anniversary. #HTTR

&mdash Washington Redskins (@Redskins) January 30, 2018

The MVP of Super Bowl XXII was visibly emotional as he attempted to reflect on the historical significance of that Championship game on January 31, 1988. It could be argued that Williams role in that title game was one of the most significant athletic moments in Black History.

Only five other African-American quarterbacks have started in a Super Bowl with Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks being the second Black signal caller to win a title. Ironically, both Super Bowl championships by African-American quarterbacks have taken place against the Denver Broncos, with Williams in Super Bowl XXII and Wilson in Super Bowl XLVIII.

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Oh yeah, this list starts off strong. Todd Collins doesn’t exactly sound like a top ten quarterback in franchise history, but the list gets a bit thin after the top seven. Todd Collins is dear in my heart after he stepped in for the injured (and unranked I may add) Jason Campbell during the end of the 2007 season. It was an emotional season after the passing of Sean Taylor and Collins lead the Redskins to a miraculous playoff appearance. Todd Collins was playing out of his mind until the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, where he played well in my opinion, just not amazingly well. Collins may have only started 3 regular season games and 1 playoff game for the redskins, but he played better in 4 games then many Redskins quarterbacks managed to do over years.

If you thought we would get through a list without saying "In Gus We Trust," you were mistaken. Gus wasn’t technically a franchise quarterback either (I know many who argue he could have been), but he did make the stinging mistake of Heath Shuler tolerable. In the 1994 draft, the Redskins Selected Heath Shuler with the third overall pick and they selected Gus Ferrotte in the 7 th round. Gus ended up being the starter for the Redskins (after Shuler was so awful) until 1998. Gus is likely most remembered for hurting his neck after he rammed his head into a padded wall on Sunday Night Football in 1997 against the Giants. I would be lying if I said that did not help him come in at number nine on the list.

We continue the list with "non-franchise" quarterbacks at the number 8 spot. Mark Brunell was an effective quarterback for the Redskins from 2004-2007, but he lost his starting job in favor to Jason Campbell during the 2007 season. Brunell was the captain of an "okay" redskins roster coached by Joe Gibbs . Brunell had some great comeback games against the division rivals and even set the Redskins record for passer rating in a single game. I have some fond memories of Brunell games, and he was a very Joe Gibbs kind of quarterback. This list is filled with Joe Gibbs kind of quarterbacks, and Brunell Deserves to be on it.

Ah, Billy Kilmer, a very fascinating quarterback. At least we have finally gotten to a franchise quarterback on the list. While Kilmer was not exactly a "pretty passer," he certainly won a lot of games under George Allen. He was the "blood and guts" kind of quarterback George Allen liked. The Redskins had spectacular records while he was under center and a Super Bowl appearance. The Redskins unfortunately lost to Don Shula’s 14-0 Dolphins in Kilmer’s Super Bowl appearance. Kilmer had two all-pro selections during his time with the Redskins and is currently in the Washington Redskins Ring of Fame. Kilmer also rocked the single bar facemask for his entire career, so he definitely gets some style points on that one.

I know what some of you are thinking. It is one of two things. One, "ARE YOU INSANE, DID YOU SEE THIS SEASON? HE SHOULD BE WAY HIGHER!" Option two, "ARE YOU INSANE, DID YOU SEE THIS SEASON? HE SHOULD NOT BE ABOVE BILLY!" While 6 might be a bit high for a guy who has only played one season, I have a hard time saying Billy is a better Quarterback then RG3. Robert is an exceptional passer. While he is still young and did not have to go past his first reads on plays this season, Robert is "the guy." This season, RG3 had a 20-5 touchdown to interception ratio, 3,200 passing yards, 815 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, and an unheard of 102.4 passer rating. He is rookie, and he will get better. But because we only have a small sample size of his work, I cannot rank him higher then 6 on this list. However, I am very confident Robert Griffin III will work his way up to the top 3 of this list someday. I’m going to enjoy watching him do it.

I would say Mark Rypien is one of the most underrated Redskins quarterbacks. Rypien was the third quarterback to pilot the Redskins to a Super Bowl win during the days of Joe Gibbs and the Redskins dynasty. Rypien and the Redskins were absolutely dominant when they defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. The team was 14-2 under Rypien during the 1991 season. Rypien threw for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns with 11 interceptions during the most dominant season by the Redskins in team history. Injuries caused Rypien to only lead the redskins for a six short seasons, but the former 6 th round pick was very good in his time with the team. He is also the only Canadian to ever be the Super Bowl MVP. Fun fact, right?

Now this guy was a good Quarterback. Theismann was the first quarterback to lead the Redskins to a Super Bowl victory under Joe Gibbs. Thiesmann had a very colorful NFL career, to say the least. He made the team originally as a punt returner, then lost a few teeth, then made two Super Bowl appearances, won one Super Bowl, and then had his leg basically ripped off by Lawrence Taylor. That’s a Viking Legend, not a quarterback’s career. Thiesmann will be remembered for many things, including his time as a sports commentator, for being a loud mouth and a bit of a diva, and as the guy on those weird prostate commercials. What I think people should remember about him is that he was a tough quarterback. He was a mobile guy, a great average passer, and a great leader that really understood the game of football.

Doug Williams was an exceptionally talented quarterback that really shined during Super Bowl XXII. Williams was the second of the three quarterbacks to lead the Redskins to a Super Bowl victory under Joe Gibbs. Williams was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was brought into the Redskins organization as a back up quarterback to Jay Schroeder in 1986. After a quarterback controversy during the 1987 season, Williams crushed the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, while throwing for four touchdowns in one quarter. Doug Williams was also the first African American quarterback to appear in and win a Super Bowl and he is arguably one of the most historically significant quarterbacks in NFL history. While I would love to put Williams at number one, he only played for the Redskins for four years and I cannot justify putting him over the top two guys on this list.

Sammy Baugh is one of the greatest football players of all time, but he comes in at number two on my list of top ten quarterbacks. As Craig Ferguson always says when he believes he just made people very angry, "I look forward to your emails." Sammy Baugh did not come in at two because of the era he played in, I have tried to judge everyone in their era when formulating this list. Sammy Baugh was a Quarterback, Safety, and Punter for the Redskins from 1937-1952. He won two NFL championships with the Redskins and he popularized the forward pass with his incredible talent. While Baugh is the best player in Redskins history, I have a hard time putting him at number one on the quarterbacks list. He was a great "gunslinger" quarterback, but no one threw like the ball like the guy that is number one on this list.

I know my bias is showing here, but Sonny is the best Quarterback in franchise history. Sonny’s career numbers are exceptional, especially considering the era he played in was not a pass friendly era of football. His career numbers include a 255–189 touchdowns to interceptions ratio, 32,224 passing yards, and a quarterback rating of 82.6. Sonny’s skills as a passer are breathtaking. Seriously, google his highlight reel. I could watch that guy throw a football all day. I would give anything to get a time machine to be able to go back in time and watch him play football. As Bobby Mitchell likes to say, nobody throws the ball like the "red head." When you question why Sonny is number one on this list, I just have one question to ask you. Did you ever see him play?

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