Where Were You When Doug Williams Shocked The World?



Today marks the 20th Anniversary of Doug Williams successfully leading the Washington Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII. In the process Williams became the first Black quarterback to do so.

I’ve asked a few friends of mine (high quality products to sports fans) to recall that day and relive what was truly one of the great events in sports history.

I am also extending this invitation to you – TSF readers to share your thoughts as well.

One of the questions asked was where were you, how did it make you feel and how have things changed for the Black quarterback in the last 20 years?

Anthony Gilbert – Starting Five Writer

I felt a sense of pride because my older brother was explaining to me that it was a big deal for Doug Williams to be a black quarterback in the Super Bowl. We are Philadelphia Eagles fans, but for one day we cheered the Washington Redskins onto victory. It was a very big moment for me, as it is one of the many fond memories I have in being a sports fan. I always say that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and being a black quarterback is tough, because no other quarterback has an ethnic label. Have you ever heard the term, european quarterback, or anglo saxan quarterback? No but for the black American quarterback to have a label, that in it self proves that there is still a long way to go. I like Warren Moon, and Randall Cunningham will forever be my ALL TIME favorite, and Doug Williams, Super Bowl MVP…he is the measuring stick of what a quarterback would want to be, black or otherwise.

Chris Murray – Sports Columnist, Philadelphia Tribune

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I was not and never will be a fan of the Washington Redskins. However, on January 31, 1988 I cheeered for the Burgundy and Gold and sang Hail to the Redskins because of Doug Williams. What I will remember from that entire week was when a reporter asked Doug Williams how long he had been a Black quarterback. That whole week everybody raved about John Elway. That second quarter in which Doug Williams led the Skins to 35 points was a thing of beauty. Doug picked the Broncos apart. I had been watching football for 20 years since I was six years old and had been hoping to see a Black quarterback win a Super Bowl. That day even the most diehard Black Cowboys fan rooted for Doug Williams because seeing a black quarterback win the Super Bowl was bigger than the rivalry. Doug destroyed the myth of a Black athlete not being able to play quarterback in a single quarter.

Ron Glover – Starting Five Writer

For some crazy reason I was over my girlfriend’s house at the time. I was 15 and the game was about to come on. I was hoping Doug would make history that day. When the Broncos went up 10-0 my first thought was that it was plenty of time left. When Williams went down I was just as nervous as anyone else but I would rather him not continue than throw the game away. Then he came back in the second quarter and the floodgates just opened up. Watching Williams go to work in the 2nd quarter of that game just didn’t seem real. He was truly in a zone. When the ‘Skins scored right before the half I knew it was a done deal. Four touchdown passes in a quarter – that was something that none of the “greats” had done. I love my Eagles dearly, but for me or anyone else to root against Doug Williams that day would’ve been just sheer ignorance. I went home at halftime because when the clock hit 00:00 I wanted to be near the man that introduced this game to me… my dad. The old man dropped a few that day, I really couldn’t blame him. A couple of year’s back – I was in Mitchell and Ness, looking for a jersey. I saw some of my favorite players numbers hangin’ around – then a Burgandy #17 Redskins Jersey with D. Williams on the back caught my eye – I couldn’t walk away from it. I was $250 lighter in the pocket but it was well worth it.

Michael Tillery – Starting Five Editor

My Pops made sure I knew who Eddie Robinson was. Eddie Robinson was Grambling and college football. The school itself….the band…everything else was insignificant (only because of Robinson’s stature). He instilled a dislike for Alabama because of how racist Bear Bryant was and Eddie represented hope in the midst of Black Struggle. He couldn’t understand why Eddie Robinson–along with Big House Gaines–wasn’t given the proper reverence of any of these Division 1 coaching “icons”. If USC and O. J. Simpson, Orange Juice–as I called him–were on the same time as Grambling? We watched Grambling. My recollection of the first Black quarterback was Doug Williams because of my Pop. That’s all he talked about, so when Doug and his big ass arm ran onto the field for Tampa Bay, it was the proudest moment ever for me personally. Pop wasn’t a big baseball fan, so I didn’t hear stories of Willie, Hank, and Jackie. It was all about Doug.

Then the sacks came…and then some more and gdamnit a whole lot more. Then Doug seemed to float around and I thought, damn all he needed was a shot. Thank God for Joe Gibbs. He became my dude when he signed Doug even though I’m an Eagles fan.

I would watch big games in my grandmother’s kitchen–smelling like some blazing friend fish–in Chester, PA (the same place where I saw Phi Slamma Jamma go down to NC State).

In this particular Super Bowl, my family tuned in at our home in Delaware. It was a big thing of course with Doug starting. It didn’t seem like it was going to be his day–especially after a hit to his injured leg forced him out for a play or two if I can remember.

Then the second quarter happened…… 😉 9-11 228 yards, 4 touchdowns.

31 Responses to “Where Were You When Doug Williams Shocked The World?”

  1. […] thebrotherreport wrote a fantastic post today on “Where Were You When Doug Williams Shocked The World?”Here’s ONLY a quick extractToday marks the 20th Anniversary of Doug Williams successfully leading the Washington Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII. In the process Williams became the first Black quarterback to do so. I’ve asked a few friends of mine to … […]

  2. They are doing a special on Outside The Lines on Doug Williams right now if anyone wants to tune in.

  3. For me it was like we all hit the lottery. I was an Niners fan so Joe Montana was the man for me. I had to cheer for Doug though. Normally that would be hard for my boyfriend since he was a scrub Eagles fan but that all went out the window when Doug put on that helmet. We were both Skins fans if only for a day. Chilling with my boyfriend, broke with some chips and pop. Our 2 person party had come alive. We were jumping up and down glowing with pride. I think I actually shed a tear.

    I think black quarterbacks still face unfair scrutiny. I don’t think that will ever change as long as most of the commentators are white males.

  4. thebrotherreport Says:

    Michelle – Where are you from?

  5. Just down 95. I live in DE county.

  6. THat was probably the only time my mom actually watched an NFL game till the end. I can still remember all of us jumping up and down….but it was the look in my parents eyes that I remember most. I remember the look in my grandmother’s eyes when Miss Trinidad & Tobago won the Miss Universe pagaent, the look of my parents when Barbara Jordan gave the address at the DNC, when Jesse’s children gave his introduction at the DNC, when Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America, when Walter Lewis was named the starter by Bear Bryant, when Debbie Thomas won the US Nationals……there is something so important to that generation about the “first”………..and when they showed Eddie Robinson’s face, my mom cried.

  7. TBR,

    I didn’t grow up in PA , if you are wondering why I’m not an Eagles fan.

  8. thebrotherreport Says:

    I thought you were from the Midwest because they are the only people I know that call soda “pop”.

  9. thebrotherreport Says:

    I knew that when you trashed my boys.

  10. Miranda,

    That was touching. I remember cheering for the womens Us gymnastic team. Do you remember the team with Dominique Dawes and Betty Okino? I loved Marylou’s team to. I always cheered for Surya Bonaly of France. She was the first woman to do a back flip on ice during a routine, Of course she was never embraced by the judges. Hey tomorrow is black history month, what else you guys got?

  11. TBR,


  12. Damn Miranda, you pretty much summed it all up there. That’s why I scream Umoja so much here. We’re different of course, but we bleed from the same soul.

    Fly Eagles Fly…..

  13. I was only five years old at the time, so I don’t remember the actual game. But as a Redskins fan, it’s something that’s been ingrained in my mind forever. I remember my dad telling me the sense of pride black folks in the DMV area and everywhere had. For a day, Doug represented the struggle and triumph of an entire race. And, as a result, will be remembered and honored forever.

  14. I was 22 watching the game with my girlfriend and it was damn good after seeing Doug suffer for the behavior of racist tampa fans for 5 years and leading them to 3 playoff berths with virtually no offense and carrying that team. Seeing him crave up Denver like a surgeon was great payback. Those white Doug Williams haters had to grugdingly give Doug his props.

  15. I was a High School senior who worked at a local Grocery store. I got my shift switched to make sure I was off before the game started, but of course, I ended up doing the last cart wrangling during a cold winter rain and didnt get home until the end of the first quarter.

    I then fell out on the couch and fell asleep during one of the Commercial breaks and woke up to see that I had missed history.

  16. Ikognegro,

    LOL! I remember those crazy jobs in HS. I worked at KFC.

  17. Gyangstah Says:

    To tell you honestly, I never under the significance of his win because I was raised in Canada and we had Warren Moon and the Eskimo’s Dynasty in the CFl long before we had Doug Williams. To us, the argument that blacks couldn’t play quarterback was already considered silly. It wasn’t ’til later that I found out that Warren had to come to the CFL to get a chance to play his natural position. It was then I came to realize how huge a win that was for Doug, the redskins and black folk in general.

    As for today, well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Don’t believe me ask Donovan McNabb or Byron Leftwich.

  18. Warren Moon was the man to. He should get more shine but you know how it goes…

  19. Thanks Michelle, Mizzo….its something to really watch those generations when something of historical significance happens for black folks. It is definitely not just a feeling of happiness, its deep pride as if that’s their own child or brother or sister out there. When Sylvester Croom broke down crying after that win over Ole Miss, I swear, he could have been my uncle…we were all sitting there looking at the game, my mom wiping a tear, my dad saying “finally”….we just sat there watching him take that flag and run around the field in silent pride. I was stunned the day my mom called and the first thing she said was “why y’all letting them do that to Michael Vick?”……..HUH? I had no idea she even knew who he was until I remembered “oh, yeah, he’s a first”……they take that kind of thing seriously, so i guess its just in my genes. That’s why I can remember Barbara Jordan speaking at the DNC in 76, even though I was only 8…that was a HUGE deal in my household. Oh, and when John Thompson’s team won that NCAA title in 84?? That’s when I fell in love with March Madness.

  20. Wow, Hildebeast is kicking Hussein’s ass tonite. This does not bode well for the empty suit.

  21. HarveyDent Says:

    I was a senior in HS living in southwest GA when Doug made history that day. As a young Black man then believe me I felt much pride seeing Doug do his thing but what really made my mouth drop that day was the way he played that second quarter. I’d never seen anything like that before or since in just one quarter of play. Doug hit the Broncos D mercilessly in those fifteen minutes and while those SB records have been broken in the years since no QB, not Montana, Young, or Brady, ever did in such a short period.

    I wish I could say that Washington’s victory today laid to rest the myth about the skills of the Black QB but I’d be lying. The only thing to do is to keep chopping that wood and to always point to this transcendant moment to let those who doubt know how wrong they are.

  22. I was 13 and living in Potomac, MD. I was watching with my entire family in the living room, and after a couple of failed drives the Skins weren’t doing jack. My father, always the armchair QB, kept telling me, they need to let Doug air it out..that’s what he does. Then Doug got hurt, and my father said, “well that’s game”. Doug came right back and set the world on fire, and my dad kept saying, “I told you..let Doug air it out and you can’t go wrong”

  23. People come over and comment on the new site.

  24. Because I HATE the Redskins and I HATED John Elway – – – instead of watching a Superbowl that would make me ill, I went to an EWF concert at Radio City Music Hall that Sunday. I guess I wanted Doug to win, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch.

    Maurice White was kind enough to us up to speed on the score, however.

  25. TBR,
    In PA and western NY it’s “Pop” also.

  26. As a long time DC resident, I enjoyed the game at the mother of all Super Bowl parties. A house full of folks who had witnessed his inexorable march to the games greatest stage were left with out voices the following day.
    We were neither surprised nor shocked by what we were witnessing.
    A classic pocket passer, secure behind an able and oversized offensive line, throwing to a crew of fleet and fearless wide receivers…
    Doug Williams flying circus was a fait acompli for the Redskin faithful.

  27. Rayson come on over to the new site and comment if you will.

  28. I’ve been a Bucs fan from the start,When Culverhouse let Williams get away,when he was asking for a much deserved raise in pay,I like most fans was very dissapointed. And then to see Doug go on and win the way he did was absolutely incredable,I am so glad that the new Bucs ownership put Doug on the payroll,He deserves all the best,and I think when he gets his chance, he is going to be a great head coach. Go Bucs, Go Doug!

  29. Doug’s victory on that historic day made almost every African American a ‘Skins fan for one day. He proved that a black man “Could Get It Done” on sports biggest stage.

    You can read more on the Doug Williams’ Super Bowl at

    BTW: I was at home watching with my grandfather a football player during the time when the NFL didn’t allow black players.

    Go to http://www.bqb-site.com for everything on the black quarterback

  30. Where was I? I was sick to my stomach cause my Vikings had lost a close one to the Redskins in the NFC championship game that year. And that was the season in which we destroyed the Saints AND 49rs in road layoff games – that was the season when the Saints & 49rs had 5 losses between them and two of those were too each other, of course.

  31. Originally, at the home of a relative, watching one of the most Super Bowls in recent memory. Washington was being skull-drugged in the most unimaginable of ways. Bored, I rode to Super D drugstore to buy some playing cards in order to salvage the rest of night with a game of spades.

    While inside the store, walking around and reading a magazine snatched from the reading section, all of nearly twenty minutes, I kept hearing the cashiers yelling over and over again while watching the Super Bowl.

    Curious, I headed towards the counter and stood in amazement as Washington had gained the league, led incredibly by the amazing heroics of Doug Williams.

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