A season-long series on the emergence of black quarterbacks in the NFL
Series debuts today with first installment by Jason Reid
TheUndefeated.com, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture, will present “Year of the Black Quarterback,” a season-long series that examines African Americans playing one of the most important positions in sports. The series explores the emergence of black quarterbacks in the NFL, their growing prominence, and the present and future impact on the league. The first installment – Welcome to the Year of the Black Quarterback – debuted today, and the series will conclude the week of Super Bowl LIV.
Entering the National Football League’s 100th season this fall, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs is the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is the highest-paid player, and Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. For the first time, this triad of accomplishments is shared by African American quarterbacks. Through the “Year of the Black Quarterback” series, The Undefeated will explore the historical relevance of how black quarterbacks are impacting the game.
“This series will look at black quarterbacks as leaders, stars and saviors of NFL franchises, and the degree to which they are redefining the league’s marquee position and how that position is seen,” said Kevin Merida, ESPN Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated. “It will be multi-dimensional in approach, with written pieces, visual storytelling, music, events, experiences, surprises.”
Senior NFL writer Jason Reid, who won the 2018 NABJ Salute to Excellence Award for “The NFL’s Racial Divide,” leads the reporting on the series and his first story examines the checkered history of racist assumptions and stereotypes that combined to impede the emergence of elite black quarterbacks in the NFL.
In addition to Reid, a collection of acclaimed writers from The Undefeated will also be key contributors to the series, including former New York Times award-winning sports columnist Bill Rhoden, Jesse Washington, Domonique Foxworth, Lonnae O’Neal, Michael Fletcher, Justin Tinsley and Martenzie Johnson, among others.
For the third straight season, The Undefeated is examining topical trends and issues in the NFL. The “Year of the Black Quarterback” follows 2018’s “State of the Black NFL Fan,” on the heels of the anthem protests for social justice by the players, and 2017’s “The NFL’s Racial Divide,” which examined the complex role race plays in determining which players play certain positions on NFL teams.
The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. The digital hub, TheUndefeated.com, which launched in May 2016, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues.
In addition to its cutting-edge content, The Undefeated seeks to be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country – convening insightful forums to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.
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