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Russell Wilson Finds a Defender in Cam Newton Against Shannon Sharpe’s Blunt Criticism

Ayush Juneja

Russell Wilson Finds a Defender in Cam Newton Against Shannon Sharpe's Blunt Criticism

Russell Wilson delivered an impactful yet controversial statement that he has broken barriers and opened doors for black quarterbacks. While it has truth to it, his statement irked many, including Shannon Sharpe, who felt that Russ’s statement was disrespectful to the contributions of all the other black QBs before him. The former Seahawks QB definitely didn’t need anyone to defend him since the entire story was actually taken out of context; however, he found an ally in Cam Newton, who partially agreed with his sentiment.

Newton, in a recent episode of 4th & 1, came out in support of former Seahawks QB. He believes that Russell has been simply misunderstood by asserting that the Steelers QB played his part in paving the way, just like others did — from Doug Williams and Warren Moon to Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick. The list goes on. Wilson might not have opened the door, but he surely kept it open for others. Everyone has to do their part, and Russell Wilson undoubtedly did his.

“I see where that is coming from and I see where Russel is coming from, too,” Cam Newton expressed. “I think he was saying it like this — his part in the paving the way is almost like Marlon Briscoe, Doug Williams, all these great players, Warren Moon, Cunningham, Michael Vick, etc. These QBs — somebody has to pass the torch on. He did his part. He kept his toe in the doorway — ya’ll come on in… I do think Russell Wilson did his part.”

However, it is worth noting that Russell didn’t try to diminish the contribution of other black QBs. He even clarified his stance with an X post that added context to the whole outburst. He noted that QBs like Warren Moon, Doug Williams, Michael Vick, McNabb, and others; opened doors for him that allowed him to do the same for others.

It must be discussed which African-American shot callers have come before Russell Wilson, have done their part in changing the perception around black QBs, and paved the way for others.

Black Quarterbacks That Made a Difference

The NFL has come a long way in accepting black players in the quarterback position. While African-American players have always dominated many positions, shot-calling isn’t something that was considered their forte. As per CBS Sports, 14 teams started the last season with black QBs, the most in a single week in NFL history. And this progress couldn’t have been possible without someone like the pioneers before them. And one of them is Doug Williams.

Doug Williams

Doug Williams was a first-round pick in the 1978 Draft. He was selected by the Buccaneers, but he eventually made his way to Washington (Redskins), where he etched his name in the history books by becoming the first quarterback of color to start and win a Super Bowl. He earned a Super Bowl MVP nod for his performance of 340 yards and 4 touchdown passes.

Marlin Briscoe

While Williams became the first African-American QB to start in the Super Bowl, Briscoe was the first black QB to start a game in the AFL for the Broncos, despite Denver’s attempt to turn him into a Wide Receiver or a Cornerback. He would later go on to clinch two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins.

Steve McNair

The late Steve McNair became the highest-drafted African-American QB when he was picked 3rd overall in the 1995 draft by the Oilers, where he became only the 2nd black QB to start in the Super Bowl in 1999 and also became the first black QB to become an NFL MVP when he did so in 2003 alongside Peyton Manning.

Michael Vick

Vick broke McNair’s record for the highest-picked QB when the Falcons drafted him as the 1st overall pick in 2001. A Southpaw superstar, whose career was cut short when he was convicted of a dogfighting ring scandal; Vick still holds the record for most rushing yards by a QB and was the league’s first quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

While the NFL has come a long way, black QBs still face the same stereotypes even when they dazzle the league with their dual-threat abilities. While still seen as a physical specimen and praised for athleticism, their intelligence is still doubted and there have always been efforts to decrease their draft stock by using tests like the Wonderlic test. The NFL has come a long way toward eradicating these stereotypes, but we still have a long way to go.

Post Edited By:Samnur Reza

About the author

Ayush Juneja

Ayush Juneja


Ayush Juneja is an NFL Journalist at the SportsRush. New to Gridiron, he has been following the sport for past 9 months and has authored over 400 articles so far. As a sports enthusiast and a true adrenaline junkie, he finds the physical side of sports to be more thrilling and engaging. A big fan of Liverpool F.C., he now roots for another red team in San Francisco 49ers and would love to see a match at Levi's Stadium and Michigan Stadium. American culture and politics fascinates him and would love to experience it first hand.

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