Monday, February 5, 2024


Celebrating Black History Month & Super Bowl
By Rev Protodeacon George A. Haloulakos

February is a time in which we celebrate Black History Month along with this year's latest edition of The Super Bowl.  In this month's Blog we celebrate both events through a special tribute to Doug Williams - an NFL legend and hero whose legacy goes well beyond the gridiron.  Mr Williams is an American football executive, former coach and quarterback whose transcendent presence in each of these venues helped to break down societal and institutional barriers, thereby creating opportunities for generations to follow.  His legendary gridiron status is exemplified by quarterbacking his team to a Super Bowl Championship and winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for that game.  In other words, on the biggest stage Mr Williams was the best or most impactful player in the biggest game of all while making history as the first African-American to both start and win a Super Bowl.  However this amazing accomplishment was just a part, and not the entirety, of an inspired life noteworthy for commitment to excellence and integrity.  Following his playing career, Mr Williams began a stellar coaching career, most notably as the head coach for his alma mater, the Grambling State Tigers.  Following that he has served as an executive with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Virginia Destroyers and Washington Redskins (now named the Commanders).
As a collegiate player, Mr Williams excelled on the field and in the classroom -- graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Health & Physical Education while leading his team to three conference titles and finishing 4th in the 1977 Heisman Trophy voting.  He had a transformative impact in the professional ranks with two franchises: first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and later with the Washington Redskins.  The Buccaneers, which had won just two games in the first two years of its existence (1976-1977), went to the NFL Playoffs three times during the five years that Williams was the starting quarterback and played for the 1979 NFC Championship!  In the midst of the tumultuous, strike-ridden 1987 season, Williams was initially a substitute quarterback for the Washington Redskins, but later took over when the starting QB was injured.  With Williams at the controls, the Redskins were undefeated in the postseason that culminated with winning Super Bowl XXII.
Although Mr Williams dealt with racism from fans, and even certain assistant coaches, he never lost faith as he was blessed with two head coaches -- John McKay (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Joe Gibbs (Washington Redskins) -- who not only believed in Williams but during the course of their own respective coaching careers in college and the NFL, also helped pave the way in breaking down long-held prejudices and biases.  From his mentors, Williams was inspired to pioneer more opportunities in the coaching and administrative ranks just as he did for the position of quarterback.  The parallel with Major League Baseball's Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson from the late 1940s is self-evident.  Doug Williams helped change NFL history in a manner that reflects honor, excellence, integrity and sportsmanship.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor and Washington Redskins (now named the Commanders) Ring of Fame in 2015.

Please join us in saluting Doug Williams - truly "A Man For All Seasons" - as we honor both Black History Month and Super Bowl.  To learn more about Doug Williams, we would recommend checking out the wealth of published biographical articles online along with viewing a one-hour biography on the NFL Network's "A Football Life."

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