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Black History Fact: How Doug Williams led the skins to Victory


On this day in 1988, the Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos clashed in San Diego, Calif. for Super Bowl XXII. Quarterback Doug Williams led the Skins to victory, becoming the first Black starting quarterback to play in the big game and the first Black quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP.

Williams, a four-year star player for Grambling State University under the legendary Eddie Robinson, was selected in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the recommendation of the team’s offensive coordinator, Joe Gibbs. Williams played with the Bucs for five seasons, but left after a contract dispute. After playing in the now-defunct United States Football League for one season, Gibbs, then head coach of the ‘Skins, brought him to the club in 1986.

Although first used in a reserve role, Williams was later inserted into the starting lineup. In the strike-shortened 1987-88 season, the Skins amassed a 11-4 record. The Broncos, led by quarterback John Elway, were favored to beat the Skins and started off strong before Williams unleashed a record-setting offensive assault that Denver never recovered from.

Williams became the first player in Super Bowl history to pass for four touchdowns in a single quarter and also the first to score four in a half. The Broncos went up 10-0 early in the first, but the Skins’ ultimately defeated the Broncos 42-10, still the largest deficit overcome by a team to win a Super Bowl. Williams threw for a total of 340 yards and won the MVP award.

After football, Williams worked for the Bucs as a scout and then returned to Grambling to become its head coach. After a tumultuous coaching run, Williams was fired in 2013. The following year, the Redskins hired Williams as a senior personnel executive, a position he still holds to this day.

Williams was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2009, Williams and fellow Grambling alum James Harris founded the Black College Hall of Fame.

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