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The Bold and Black History of the Super Bowl

By Kenneth Miller, Publisher

During 55 years the Super Bowl has undoubtedly produced some of the greatest moments in the history of professional sports, befitting of a sports league that is hands down the most popular in America.

On Feb. 13 when the NFL brings its worldly circus to the new saucer aptly named SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LV featuring the underdog darling Cincinnati Bengals and the home town Los Angeles Rams it will be on the backdrop of the rather appalling number of Black head coaches and the lily white representation throughout the entire league all the way down the individual’s distributing credentials of which there is nary a Black in the bunch.

Email me if you are a Black community newspaper that will be allowed to sit in the press box on the big day, instead of being relegated to some over sized tent somewhere afar in the parking lot of SoFi.

Most fans who look like me and live like me will be somewhere in front of a big screen as equally obsessed with what will be transpiring as those in 30 band VIP Club seats at the 50 yard line.

Perhaps my peeps had the patience to endure the gridlock and get highjacked by the downtown parking fees ranging from $40 to $50 when on most days they’d be lucky to get $10 or $20 to see the NFL Experience exhibit at the LA Convention Center.

This is the action that most cities mortgage their future for, but here in Inglewood it is just the beginning of a revolution that will revitalize the city for ever.

I know I took a long route to get to reflecting and honoring those players, coaches and entertainers who were the first Blacks, but the backdrop is necessary in that we may never live to see those moments again.

There will not be any Black head coaches in the Super Bowl this time when the Rams Sean McVay tries to out fox Zac Taylor of the Bengals, but it took until 2007 before a Black was the first and only winning coach of the Big Game.

Tony Dungy is neither a coon or hero as the first Black coach to win a Super Bowl. He led the Indianapolis Colts to victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super bowl XLI, 29 to 17.

Inspired by Joe Louis and baseball legend Jackie Robinson, Dungy was considered to have the perfect temperament as he broke the color barrier but his victory has done nothing to inspire the league to look for more Black head coaches, in fact quite the contrary.

Franco Harris

Years before Dungy, another Pittsburgh Steeler, running back Franco Harris was named the first Black MVP of the Super Bowl. Harris carried the Steelers 16-6 to victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX, Jan. 12, 1975, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

Running back is a position where Blacks have been prominent in the NFL going back to the days of Jim Brown, but unless Joe Mixon of the Bengals goes off on the Rams defense this year Super Bowl will not be memorable for running backs.

Doug Williams

Who doesn’t remember one of the greatest performances in Super Bowl history on Jan. 31, 1988, in San Diego, when Doug Williams led the former Washington Redskins—now known as the Washington Commanders—to become first Black quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, scoring four of Washington’s five touchdowns in an upset blowout 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

Culturally, Williams represented everything we could dream of. He played for the great legendary Eddie Robinson at HBCU Grambling, also earned the Super Bowl MVP honors by connecting on 18/29 passes for 340 yards, four touchdowns, with one interception.

Ironically, Williams was a prototype pocket passer, the style reserved for whites. Today if you are a Black quarterback you better be able to throw farther, run faster and make as few mistakes as possible to excel.

This year rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar will join R&B singer Mary J. Blige during the 2022 halftime show. The five performers have a total of 43 Grammys and 21 Billboard No. 1 albums.

Michael Jackson

However, they all pale in comparison to when the late great Michael Jackson became the first Black entertainment at the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show on Jan. 31, 1993, at the Rose Bowl.

The halftime show broadcast on NBC remains one of the most watched events in American television history with 133.4 million viewers.

Let’s see LV top that!


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