A year ago, the Redskins finished with a 5-11 record. This season, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III helped Washington put together a 10-6 record, an NFC East title and its first playoff appearance since 1999. Not bad for the former Baylor All-American and Heisman Trophy winner.
Griffin's path to success was paved by a number of African-American quarterbacks who were trailblazers at this position. Most notable is Doug Williams, who played for the Redskins and became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, breaking new ground for many African-Americans down the road.
This is the 25th anniversary of Williams' great performance. Now, a quarter of a century later, Griffin is making a huge impact as the Redskins' quarterback. He has demonstrated leadership, intelligence and great skills in the game's highest-profile position.
In the past 25 years, there have been some significant accomplishments for black quarterbacks. Here's a list of the top 10 moments for African-American quarterbacks during those years:
1. In 1987, Doug Williams had his greatest day as a pro, completing 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards and throwing four touchdowns to lead the Washington Redskins to a 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. He set four Super Bowl records -- most yards passing in a game (340), most yards passing in a quarter (228), most touchdown passes (four) and longest completion (80 yards). He was named the Most Valuable Player.
2. In 2006, Warren Moon became the first black quarterback to be inducted into
the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Moon won five Grey Cup championships with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League before coming to the NFL. He threw for 49,325 yards with 291 touchdowns in his 17 years in the NFL. He played for the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and
Kansas City Chiefs in his career.
3. In 2001, Michael Vick, out of Virginia Tech, became the first black quarterback to be selected first overall when he was picked by the Atlanta Falcons. Vick had two great seasons for the Hokies. As a freshman, he led Virginia Tech to an 11-0 regular season record and an appearance in the national title game before losing to Florida State, 46-29. He was a threat to score on just about every play he touched the ball.
4. In 1999, Steve McNair became just the second black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl. McNair was a huge star at Alcorn State, setting all kinds of passing records. He was the third player selected overall in the 1995 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. He became the starting quarterback in 1997 when the Oilers moved to Tennessee. In the Super Bowl, he threw a pass to wide receiver Kevin Dyson on which Dyson came up one yard short of the tying touchdown. The St. Louis Rams edged the Tennessee Titans 23-16.
5. In 2004, Donovan McNabb becomes the third African-American quarterback to play in the Super Bowl. McNabb, a five-time Pro Bowler, led the Philadelphia Eagles to the big game. The New England Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21 to win the Super Bowl. McNabb connected on 30 of 51 passes for 357 yards with three touchdown passes and three interceptions in a losing effort.
6. In 2004, Donovan McNabb and Vick, both African-American quarterbacks, faced each other in the NFC Championship Game. McNabb's Philadelphia Eagles beat the Falcons 27-10 to win the conference title. McNabb completed 17 of 26 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Vick was 11 of 24 for 136 yards and one interception.
7. In 1990, Randall Cunningham emerged as the most explosive player in the NFL. In a game against the Buffalo Bills, Cunningham, the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback, displayed his great athletic ability, ducking under defensive end Bruce Smith in the end zone and throwing a 95-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Fred Barnett. He had a tremendous season for the Eagles. He threw for 3,466 yards and 30 touchdowns. He rushed for 942 yards while scoring five rushing TDs. Cunningham, who led the Eagles to the playoffs, won the Bert Bell Award.
8. In 1998, Randall Cunningham led the Minnesota Vikings to a 15-1 record. He threw for 3,704 yards and 34 touchdowns. Overall, this was Cunningham's finest season. He led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game before losing to the Atlanta Falcons, 30-27. He was the most exciting player in the NFL that season.
9. In 1999, it was a big year for black quarterbacks in the NFL draft. This draft produced five black quarterbacks who all played in the league: Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, Shaun King and Aaron Brooks. McNabb was the second overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. Smith was selected third overall by the Cincinnati Bengals out of the University of Oregon. Culpepper was the 11th pick overall out of Central Florida by the Minnesota Vikings. King was a second-round pick from Tulane by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brooks was a fourth-round selection from Virginia by the Green Bay Packers.
10. In 2011, Cam Newton was the No. 1 pick overall out of Auburn by the Carolina Panthers. Newton won the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to a national championship in his final season in college. He threw for 4,051 yards with 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions his rookie year. He also scampered for 706 yards on 126 carries while scoring 14 rushing TDs. He was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.