Today's matchup between the Broncos and Panthers is the fourth straight Super Bowl with an African American quarterback, which at one point in history was unthinkable.
A decade before Doug Williams became the first African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl (XXII when he was MVP for Washington) and long before Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco), Russell Wilson (Seattle) and Cam Newton (Carolina) led their teams to title games, Warren Moon was denied the opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL out of college.
Rather than switch positions, Moon opted to go to the Canadian Football League in 1978. After leading the Edmonton Eskimos to five straight Grey Cup wins and becoming the first professional to pass for 5,000 yards in a season (1982), he followed with 5,648 yards and was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player in 1983.
The accolades finally led to an opportunity in the NFL with Houston in 1984. Moon played for the Oilers for 10 seasons, leading Houston to the playoffs his final seven seasons in a row before signing with the Vikings as a free agent. Moon played three seasons in Minnesota, posting 4,264 yards in 1994 and 4,228 the following year, a tally only surpassed by Daunte Culpepper's mark of 4,717 in 2004.
We wrote about how opportunities have advanced from Moon's time to that of current Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last season.
"I think that's the thing I'm probably most satisfied with my career, is that I was able to make positive change," Moon told Vikings.com. "When you look at the accomplishments of Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks or the way Muhammad Ali stood up for what he believed, or looking at Jackie Robinson when he broke into baseball, all these different sacrifices African Americans have made, you feel like, 'What can you do to help make it a little better?', and that's what I feel like I did by the way I carried myself, the way I spoke up on the subject of racism and African Americans playing the position and then by how I played the position.
"I think it really helped open our eyes and make change in the mentality of people within the game of football and outside the game of football and gave that next generation of young quarterbacks the opportunity to get more opportunities," Moon added. "It wasn't just me. Randall Cunningham was playing great football at that time, Doug Williams had won a Super Bowl playing really good football. I think that opened a lot of people's eyes, that these guys can play the position and play at a high level and we need to start giving more opportunities to other African Americans. I think that's what opened the door, and I played a small part of that, and I'm very grateful for that."