“Perhaps the most significant quarterback performance in Super Bowl history is still thanks to Doug Williams,” said NFL historian Joe Horrigan, former executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in a telephone interview last week. “Because Doug wasn’t just playing John Elway, Doug was playing every quarterback who’s ever played the game. That was huge. “
In the days leading up to Super Bowl XXII, the spotlight was on Williams, who was named senior advisor to team president Jason Wright on Thursday in a new role in the Washington Football team’s front office.
“The questions Williams was asked by about 1,000 national media members this week were either targeted enough, probing enough, insensitive enough, or just silly enough to make a lesser man run back to his room and hide,” wrote Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post The middle of the media circus in 1988. “… Of course, every favorite has to be,” Doug, you’ve been a black quarterback all your life … “
Williams awaited the questions and was not offended, but he was more concerned about Bronco’s linebacker Karl Mecklenburg than his place in history at the time.
“All the emphasis was on me being black and the historical part and everything and I understood the importance of being the first to play in the Super Bowl, but I couldn’t get into the game to make it myself viewpoint, ”Williams said on the Washington Football Team’s Women of Washington podcast this week. “I had to prepare to find a way to win the game. I’ve always said when the game is over and we won, you can paint me any color you want, but I was still the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback. “
“I know he’s a little bit disapproving today, saying he hasn’t thought about it as much as people might think, but I know Doug well,” said Horrigan, who ranks with Williams and his pioneering black quarterback James ” Shack “advised. Harris when they co-founded the Black College Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. “I think it’s rubbish. It was in his mind. He had so much stress on his back that day and reacted so profoundly that not only this Super Bowl changed, but the game too. He had a lot to prove. It couldn’t have been a more challenging game and he won in such an incredible way. “
After being streaked out of the game for a streak after straining his knee in the first quarter, Williams, who contracted a four-hour root canal the day before, returned and led the biggest offensive blast in a quarter in history of the Super Bowl. The former Grambling star completed 9 of 11 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns in the second quarter with 35 points in Washington, turning a 10-0 deficit into a router. The breakout started with an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ricky Sanders and ended with an 8-yard scoring grab from Clint Didier. Williams finished 18 of 29 for 340 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, and received MVP awards.
Despite Williams’ historic performance against a Hall of Famer at Elway, why does Super Bowl XXII end up in the lower half of our Super Bowl QB matchup rankings? The answer lies in the methodology, which relied on three statistical elements. The first assessed the quality of the careers of the two quarterbacks. The second measured how well they played in the season leading up to their Super Bowl meeting. Finally, the performance of the quarterbacks in the big game was taken into account. Williams was a solid, but not exceptional, player in the years before and after his only Super Bowl appearance. In the 1987 regular season he started only two games, which is why he does poorly in two of the three elements.
Williams’ performance in the Super Bowl, however, was among the best of all time. His quarterback score, a modification of baseball statistician Bill James’ formula for pitchers, was 68. This is the fourth highest score in Super Bowl history, only behind Steve Young and Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers, who had a score of 1994 71 scored respectively in 1989 and Tom Brady (69) of the New England Patriots in 2017.
“As the first black quarterback in the NFL championship game,” wrote Ken Denlinger of the Post after Washington’s 42-10 win, “Williams has been scrutinized even more closely this week than Elway.” He handled this with grace and patience, then played it as brilliantly as any of his most ardent admirers would have hoped. “
Neil Greenberg contributed to this report.