Published on June 30th 2010 by Leon Shepherd

The most important player/position on a football team is the quarterback. The quarterback is the leader, the driving force behind the success of a football team. For many years there was a belief that African Americans did not have the ability/intelligence to lead a professional football team. Well, over the past few decades, black quarterbacks have made tremendous strides in the quarterback position. There have been three black quarterbacks that have lead their teams to Super Bowl’s, with one being victorious as well as being named the Super Bowl MVP. This easily proves that an African American does have what it takes to be a successful leader and quarterback in the NFL. This also proves that black quarterbacks are just as good, if not better at the position played by many of their white counterparts.  So, in honoring these great leaders, I’ve listed The 10 Greatest Black Quarterbacks of all time. I based the ranking of the list on, statistics, athleticism, team leadership, and recognition received at the coveted position. The new/young black quarterbacks in the league did not qualify for the list because they are still in the defining moments of their careers. So, without further ado, let the top 10 debate begin!


 10. Marlin Briscoe


Marlin Oliver (Marlin the Magician) Briscoe (born September 10, 1945 in Oakland, California) is a former American collegiate and Professional Football wide receiver/quarterback who played professionally for nine years. Briscoe was 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds when the AFL’s Broncos took him in the 14th-round of the 1968 draft. He was eighth on the Broncos’ QB depth chart in training camp. On September 29, 1968, starter Steve Tensi suffered a broken collarbone, and backup Joe DiVito was spotty. Head coach Lou Saban summoned Briscoe from the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Boston Patriots. Briscoe’s first play was a 22-yard completion. On his second series he orchestrated an 80-yard touchdown drive. He completed a 21-yard pass and ran for 38 more himself, carrying it the last 12 yards for the score. When Marlin Briscoe broke the Denver huddle and surveyed the Cincinnati Bengals defense as he walked to the line of scrimmage Oct. 6, 1968, he became the first starting black quarterback in the modern era, extending the American Football League’s propensity to use blacks at positions they were denied in the NFL. Briscoe threw 14 touchdown passes that year, still Denver’s rookie record. He completed only 41.5 percent of his passes, but averaged a very good 7.1 yards per attempt and his 17.1 yards per completion led the American Football League (and ranks 18th all-time). He also ran for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Broncos released Briscoe before the 1969 season. He then went to the AFL’s Buffalo Bills. He was turned into a receiver since the Bills already had superstar Jack Kemp, former Pro Bowler Tom Flores and James Harris, another black quarterback with a more prototypical 6-foot-4 and 210 pound frame. Briscoe never played quarterback again, but he enjoyed a splendid career. He led Buffalo in touchdown catches in each of his three seasons there and in receptions twice. In 1970 he was in the top two in receptions and receiving yards and became an All-Pro.


AFL Denver Broncos (1968)

AFL Buffalo Bills (1969)

NFL Buffalo Bills (1970-1971) 

NFL Miami Dolphins (1972-1974)

NFL San Diego Chargers (1975)

NFL Detroit Lions (1975)

NFL New England Patriots (1976)

 Career Highlights & Awards:

1. time  Pro Bowl1970                                                                                                                      

1 time All-Pro selection (1970)                                                                                                   

2 time Super Bowl champion (VII, VIII)

Career Statistics:

TDs – INTs:  14 – 14                                                                                                                              Yards: 1709  

QB Rating: 78.2


9. Vince Evans


Vincent Tobias Evans (born June 14, 1955, in Greensboro, North Carolina) is a former professional football quarterback who was selected by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round (140th overall pick) of the 1977 NFL Draft. Evans, who played collegiately at USC, had a career in the NFL that nearly spanned 20 years, from 1977 to 1995. Evans is the only player of the Chicago Bears to score a perfect quarterback rating in a game.


 Chicago Bears (1977-1983)                                                                                                                                  

 Chicago Blitz (USFL) (1984)                                                                                                                                    

Denver Gold (USFL) (1985)                                                                                                                                      

Los Angeles / Oakland Raiders (1987-1995)

 Career Highlights & Awards:

Scored perfect QB Rating in a game.

 Career Statistics:  

TDs – INTs: 52 – 74                                 

 Yards: 9, 485                                                                                                                                                       

 QB Rating: 63


8. Kordell Stewart


Kordell Stewart, nicknamed “Slash” (born October 16, 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a former NFL quarterback. Stewart attended the University of Colorado and was drafted 60th in the 1995 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Playing for Colorado in 1994 he completed a hail mary pass to beat the University of Michigan 27-26, a play known as “The Miracle at Michigan.” Stewart got his chance to start at quarterback in 1997. In his first season as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he led the Steelers to an 11–5 record and the AFC Championship Game. Among NFL quarterbacks, his 38 rushing touchdowns ranks second all-time, behind Steve Young’s 43. The NFL Network named him #6 on its list of the 10 most versatile players in NFL history.


Pittsburgh Steelers (1995-2002)                                                                                                                      

 Chicago Bears (2003)                                                                                                                                   

Baltimore Ravens (2004 – 2005)

Career Highlights & Awards:

Pro Bowl selection (2001)

 Career Statistics:

TDs - INTs: 74-84                                                                                                                                                          

Passing Yards: 14, 746  


7. James Harris


James Larnell “Shack” Harris (born July 20, 1947 in Monroe, Louisiana) is a senior personnel executive for the Detroit Lions. He is also a former collegiate and Professional Football quarterback, and a former vice president for player personnel of the Jacksonville Jaguars.  In 1973, Harris was the understudy to veteran John Hadl as the Rams went 12-2 and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1969. After the season, Hadl was then traded to Green Bay, and Harris became the first-string quarterback for the Rams entering the 1974 season. He led the team to their second straight NFC Western Division title, and their first playoff victory (19-10 over the Washington Redskins) since 1951. Harris then became the first African-American quarterback to start a conference championship Game. The Rams lost the NFC Championship Game to the Minnesota Vikings 14-10, as the Vikings were aided by some controversial officiating. In 1974, Harris was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was awarded MVP of that game.


AFL Buffalo Bills (1969)                                                                                                                

NFL Buffalo Bills (1970-1972)                                                                                                         

 NFL Los Angeles Rams (1973-1976)                                                                                                  

NFL San Diego Chargers (1977-1981)

Career Highlights & Awards:

Pro Bowl: (1974)                                                                                                                           

1975 Pro Bowl MVP

Career Statistics:

TDs- INTs: 45 – 59                                                                                                                                       Passing Yards: 8, 136                                                                                                                     

QB Rating: 67.3            


6. Doug Williams




Douglas Lee “Doug” Williams (born August 9, 1955 in Zachary, Louisiana) is a former football quarterback. Williams is best known for his MVP performance in Super Bowl XXII with the Washington Redskins. He is, to date, the only African-American to win a Super Bowl as starting quarterback.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1978–1982)

 Oklahoma / Arizona Outlaws (1984–1985)

 Washington Redskins (1986–1989)

Career Highlights & Awards:

Super Bowl champion (XXII)                                                                                                                   

Super Bowl XXII MVP  

Career Statistics:

TDs – INTs: 100 – 93

 Passing Yards: 16,998                                                                                                                                  

 QB Rating: 69.4


5. Daunte Culpepper


Daunte Richard Culpepper (born January 28, 1977 in Ocala, Florida) is a quarterback for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. He played college football at the University of Central Florida.  Culpepper was drafted eleventh overall in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings; he was the fourth quarterback chosen, after Tim Couch (1st overall), Donovan McNabb (2nd), and Akili Smith (3rd). In his first year Culpepper saw limited playing time and did not throw a pass. In 2000 he was named Minnesota’s starting quarterback. He led the Vikings to victory in the first seven games of the season, and helped them finish 11-5 and advance to the NFC Championship game, where they were defeated by the New York Giants 41-0. One of Culpepper’s most notable moments was against the Buffalo Bills when he threw a pass across his body and the field to Randy Moss for a 39-yard touchdown pass, although the pass was at least 60 net yards.


Minnesota Vikings (1999–2005)                                                                                                           

 Miami Dolphins (2006)                                                                                                                            

Oakland Raiders (2007)                                                                                                                            

Detroit Lions (2008–2009)                                                                                                                   

Sacramento Mountain Lions (2010–

Career Highlights & Awards:

2 time All-Pro selection (2000, 2004) 

 3 time Pro Bowl selection (2000, 2003, 2004)

Career Statistics:

TDs – INTs:  149 – 106   

Passing Yards: 24,143                                                                                                                                         

QB Rating 87.8


4. Donovan McNabb


Donovan Jamal McNabb (born November 25, 1976) is an American football quarterback for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL). He was the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback from 1999 to 2009. In college, McNabb played football and basketball for Syracuse University. The Eagles selected him as the second overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft. McNabb led the Eagles to four consecutive NFC East division championships (2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004), five NFC Championship Games (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2008), and one Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXXIX, in which the Eagles were defeated by the New England Patriots). Perhaps his most memorable play has become known as “4th and 26″, which took place against the Green Bay Packers in the final minutes of a 2003 NFC Divisional playoff game. He is the Eagles’ all-time leader in career wins, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.


Philadelphia Eagles (1999–2009)                                                                                                      

 Washington Redskins (2010–present)

 Career Highlights & Awards:

6  time Pro Bowl selection (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009)                                                     

2004 NFC Offensive Player of the Year

Career Statistics:

TDs-INTs: 216-100                                                                                                                                           

QB Rating: 86.5


3. Steve McNair



Stephen LaTreal McNair (February 14, 1973 – July 4, 2009) (Nicknamed Air McNair) was an football quarterback who spent the majority of his NFL career with the Tennessee Titans.  McNair played college football at Alcorn State in Lorman, Mississippi, where he won the 1994 Walter Payton Award as the top player in NCAA Division I-AA. He was drafted third overall by the NFL’s Houston Oilers in 1995, becoming the Oilers’ regular starting quarterback in 1997, their first season in Tennessee (though he started six games over the prior two seasons in Houston), and remained the starting quarterback for the Titans through 2005. After the 2005 season, McNair was traded to the Baltimore Ravens, with whom he played for two seasons before retiring after thirteen NFL seasons. McNair led the Titans to the playoffs four times, and the Ravens once, and played in Super Bowl XXXIV with the Titans. He is the Titans’ all-time leading passer.McNair was the victim of homicide on July 4, 2009, from gunshot wounds inflicted by Sahel Kazemi, his mistress, who then turned the gun on herself.


Houston Oilers / Tennessee Oilers / Tennessee Titans (1995–2005)  Baltimore Ravens (2006–2007)

Career Highlights  & Awards:

3 time Pro Bowl selection (2000, 2003, 2005)  

All-Pro selection (2003)                                                                                                                                

AP NFL MVP (2003)                                                                                                                               

 1994 Walter Payton Award

Career Statistics:

TDs – INTs:  174 -119                                                                                                                                   

 Passing Yards: 31, 304 

QB Rating:  82.8


2. Randall Cunningham


Randall W. Cunningham (born March 27, 1963 in Santa Barbara, California) is a former football quarterback. After playing college football at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he was selected in the second round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, with whom he remained through the 1995 season. He announced his retirement from football following the end of that season, taking a job as an analyst for TNT in 1996. The following year, however, he resumed his playing career. He played for the Minnesota Vikings (1997-1999), the Dallas Cowboys (2000), and the Baltimore Ravens (2001). Cunningham then re-signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and retired for good in 2002. He won the Bert Bell Award in 1990, the height of the ‘Ultimate Weapon’ stories. He is the younger brother of former college and professional football player Sam Cunningham who played for the New England Patriots.


Philadelphia Eagles (1985-1995)

Minnesota Vikings (1997-1999)

Dallas Cowboys (2000)

Baltimore Ravens (2001)

Career Highlights & Awards:

4 Time Pro Bowl selection (1988, 1989, 1990, 1998)                                                                                                                                                                           

4 Time All-pro selection (1989, 1990, 1992, 1998)                                                                                                                               

Pro Bowl MVP (1998)                                                                                                                                                

NFL Comeback Player of the Year (1992)

Career Statistics:

TDs – INTs:  207- 134   


 QB rating: 81.5


1. Warren Moon



Harold Warren Moon (born November 18, 1956 in Los Angeles, California) is a retired American professional football quarterback who played for the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos and the National Football League’s Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He is currently a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks. He is one of only two people to be enshrined in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (Former coach Bud Grant, who coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to four Grey Cup titles and the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowl games, is the other.) Moon was also the first, and currently only, modern African-American quarterback elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Edmonton Eskimos (1978–1983)

Houston Oilers (1984–1993)

Minnesota Vikings (1994–1996)

Seattle Seahawks (1997–1998)

Kansas City Chiefs (1999–2000)

 Career Highlights & Awards:

9 Pro Bowl selection ((1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997)

3 time All-pro selection (1988, 1989, 1990)

NFL Offensive Player of The Year (1990)

Pro Bowl MVP (1998)

Pro Football Hall of Fame (2006)

Career NFL Statistics:                                                                                                                                         

TDs – INTs:  291 -233                                                                                                                                     

Passing Yards:  49, 325 

Career CFL Statistics:

TD -INT:   144-77 

Passing yards: 21, 228

Sports | Comments (28)

28 Responses to “Top 10 Greatest Black NFL Quarterbacks”

  1. Shack II Says:

    Excellent – Very informative. Several comments:
    - Of the ten three were born in Lousiana and three from California.

    - Didn’t know Briscoe (Thanks for listing the FIRST starting AA QB-you know I appreciate history) was converted back to a WR and made the All Pro while doing so.

    - In terms of the rankings, AGREE Moon by far the best – I might have D. Williams a tad higher since he’s the only one to win a SB but then he began his career in Tampa!

    Jefferson St. Joe Gilliam and Rodney Peete aren’t listed – Could you list their stats?

  2. Straaw Says:

    Not a bad list. Randall is my favorite. He is the best to me. Warren is tight, too. I like QB’s that can throw and scramble. Kordell would not be in mine. Would replace him with Michael Vick. Doug is better than Donovan and Dante, to me. Shout out to Joe Gilliam, Jeff Blake, John Walton, Rickey Foggy, Homer Jordan,Nickie Hall, Jamelle Holieway,Tommy Frazier, and Thomas Lott.

  3. Leon Says:

    Shack…I didn’t put Doug W. any higher on the list because as you mentioned, he started with Tampa. And his stats were not good at all in Tampa.
    I did consider the fact that he is the only Black QB to win a Super Bowl, but I also realized that one great game doesn’t define one’s career.

    And I forgot about Rodney Peete. He could possibly bump Vince Evans off the list.

    Rodney Peete stat’s…
    TD-INT 76-92
    Yards 16,338
    QB Rating 73.3
    No listed awards or major achievements.

    Joe Gilliam was originally on the list, but after looking at his stats, I knew that there were others with better stats.
    Joe’s stats…
    TD-INT 9-17
    Yards 2,103
    QB Rating 53.2
    2 Super Bowl rings, (IX AND X)

  4. Leon Says:

    Welcome back Straaw!
    You might have a point with Kordell verses Vick.
    But Doug better than Donovan or Dante, it’s not even close. Look at the numbers.

    Your shout out list is ok, but several didn’t play in the NFL. Keep in mind we’re talking about NFL QB’s, not college QB’s.

  5. rod moore Says:

    Now youre in my element pro football! First thanks for not putting Vick on this list . His accuracy & inability to read defenses are not his strong points & that is major for an NFL quarterback. Secondly I dont think Dougs stats at TB should be questioned as much as his ability to win. Remeber they became a laughingstock when he left until Tony Dungy came along. Remember Steve Young was horrible at TB & Trent Dilfer also. Is TB the only team to loose 3 startinq QBs that went on to win Super Bowls? Cant wait to see more like best RB or wide reciever so I can hear Shack & Grady whine about Drew!lol Ive already got my Perry Mason defense ready! Peace

  6. Shack Says:

    Rod – Why wait…as Jack Webb says, JUST THE FACTS. My (not Grady’s) main argument is the usual one – Look at Drews stats and look at Swann’s. I know, I know four rings vs. one but Drew deserves HOF consideration (let alone the Ring of Honor).

    There WAS (don’t think there no longer IS) a Cowboy Bias – Case In Point Bob Hayes another Cowboy WR who should have been in years ago certainly before he died. The “New” Cowboys have kinda even things out but Bob H. & Rayfield W. SHOULD Have Ben in the Hall and Drew should at least havfe been considered. Remember He is an ALL DECADE WR!!!

    This blog is great so others can comment as well. LEON Sorry for jumping the gun BUT ROD Started It-LOL.

  7. rod moore Says:

    OK juddy you say lynn is in for the super bowls but drew has better stats then here we go. Here are the stats of 2 QBs one in the Hall of Fame the other cant get nominated. 1. comp% 57 yards 22700 tds 91 2.comp % 51.1 yards 34665 tds 209. Who are these two? The first one is Roger Staubach the other Jim Hart. So why is Roger in with such mediocre numbers? 2 super bowl wins where Hart has nothing so should Roger be out & Hart in? According to your argument yes. Lynn was a member of The All Decade team also.

  8. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    Awesome! I did not know any of these guys, but I know that my father did and my brother does. I’ve just been educated. I love it! Thank you!!! Awesome job!

  9. rod moore Says:

    Honestly with all kidding aside I think Drew hurt his chances when he made the statement “When Roger retired I retired.” That doesnt help his cause. Hes basically saying Roger made him great. Jerry Rice didnt drop off after Montana retired & swann & stallworth were still productive after Bradshaw retired with mark malone of all people. A great QB makes his wide recievers better & a great reciever makes an avg QB good but not better. Case in point look at steve largent avg qb great reciever. But look what Brett favre did with minnesotas avg recievers he turned into pro bowlers & one of the most dangerous units in the league.

  10. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    This is sad speaking of Randall Cunningham, his two year old son just died in a hot tub. Tragic.

  11. Leon Says:

    Sorry to hear that Lenora.
    Thanks for making us aware of this tragedy.

  12. Shack Says:

    Response(s)To Comment #7-Landry ran a “balanced offense” where the individual numbers compiled by the QB, RB (Dorsett)&WRs were stifled but which is why the team had TWENTY CONSECUTIVE WINNING SEASONS – Something Pitt, Miami, Oakland nor any other team can Boast.

    With specific reference to HART/(No SBs) & Staubach (5 SBs) – Joe Namath had worst stats and is revered for his ONE appearance and the
    guarantee they would win – Unfair I agree but thats the way it is.

    To All – Thats Too Bad about Little Cunningham – How do parents allow small children around hot tubs and pools without being watched??

    To Comment #9 I believe Drew has become cross ways with J. Jones with his Marketing company and the sports writers (and JJ) don’t do enough to at least get him nominated. Don’t Get me wrong I DONT believe DP Should necessarily be in the HOF but his name should at least be mentioned and he should not have to be DEAD to get the ball rolling

    Grady – We’re waiting on your comment(s)!

  13. grapevine Says:

    You can’t always go by stats, if thats the case then Venny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe would be in the Hall Of Fame. Sometimes you have factor in how a player performs in the most important games. Drew Pearson was a Big-Time Player who always played his best at clutch times. He is a no-brainer hall of fame . By the way, he was also voted on the all-decade team (70′s).

  14. Shack Says:

    Rod-Need to review your stats concerning Staubachs TDs it is a number in the 150s not 91.

  15. Trisha Says:

    Well, I got lost when the debate turned to wide receivers. All I know is Donvan McNabb got me eating more soup and I am still holding out that Vince Young can turn things around.

  16. Straaw Says:

    Drew Pearson is way better than Offensive pass interference-pushin off Michael Irvin. Doug carried dismal Tampa Bay to the conf. Finals. Played wita broke jaw his rookie year. Doug was raw- yall forgot. Don’t get caught up in numbers. Doug came through in da clutch. U can have all the numbers in the world-if u dn’t come through in the pressure situations,i.e. Dante, Donovan…Dante has more fumbles than anyone, big as he is.

  17. rod moore Says:

    As far as cluth games & big game performances The Super Bowl isnt the biggest of big games? As far as Rogers tds mustve looked down the wrong column but the thing is Harts stats were better. Lynn was also an all decade player. Grady, shack brought the stat thing, I was just making a point. Sometimes you can turn a point around & use it. Oh yeah shack, about dallass socalled balanced attack, how many times did dallas beat pitt? how many super bowls did pitt beat dallas in? And how many total super bowls does pitt have overall? Ihave the games on dvd if you need to refresh your memory. lol

  18. rod moore Says:

    20 winning years is an empty stat juddy. Ask the atlanta braves about it. The mavs have had one of the best 10 year runs in nba history & what do they have to show for it nothing. All that matters is championships. 20 winning seasons & only 2 superbowl wins. Pitt got 4 in half the time.

  19. Southern Girl Says:

    How about the “Bottom Five of All Time” or the five worst and some of tyhese guys came with high expectatons/Heisman etc…I’d have:
    5 – Quincy Carter (Cowboys 00s)
    4 – Reggis Collier (Cowboys-80s)
    3 – Andre Ware (Detroit + others late 80s/90s)
    2 – JaMarcu Russell (Raiders)
    1 – Akili Smith (Bengals 90s)

    Sure I missed one or two – (Black QB flops)??

  20. Shack II Says:

    Sorry everyone Comment 17 is from me and Not SU Girl!!

  21. Shack II Says:

    To Rod and comments 17 & 18 – You’re REACHING Sir.
    To address your questions = Pitt holds a 2 to 1 edge against Dallas in SBs. Pitt has 6 and Dallas 5 SB Championships. Everyone know these facts.

    The real discussion centers on DP and his HOF credentials not Pitt vs. Dallas

    You might possibly compare soccer or boxing to what it takee to win in the NFL but not base/basket ball.

    The 20 Winning seasons IS empty but the fact is no other steam can state they achieved that feat.

    Teams boast themselves all the time such as Oakland being the “winningest team of the 70′s” which true but how many SBs did they acheive that decade=1?

  22. rod moore Says:

    Thats the point oakland boasts but has little to show as far as sbs. you are the one that boasted about dallass streak. I simply had to point the accoplishments of my team just like you did, that ok?

  23. Shack II Says:

    We agree…My whole point for alluding to Twenty Winning Seasons (TWS)is why several Cowboys, Staubach, Pearson, Dorsett in particular, don’t have more appreciable stats (your point in RS vs. Hart) was because these were sacrificed for “team success/TWS” so I had to use that logic to justify my contention!

  24. JACKIE Says:


  25. Iceberg Says:

    With due respect, my top 10 (Retired)
    1 Moon 2 Harris 3 Williams 4 McNair 5 Cunningham 6 Steward
    7 Culpepper 8 Evans 9 Peete 10 Briscoe


  26. Leon Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Iceberg.

  27. Me!!! Says:

    I’d personally rank McNabb higher than McNair and Cunningham, but a great list nonetheless!

  28. Leon Says:

    Thanks Me!