Black Culture Month Cultural Figure of the Week: Willie Thrower

Willie Thrower, 1930-2002


The first ever black quarterback in the NFL had the most appropriate name ever for the position. A lot of black athletes have swag names like D’brickashaw Ferguson, De’anthony Thomas, and Armani Jackson, but none compare to Willie Thrower.

Now, I’m not honoring Willie solely based on his name, (although his name itself deserves to be honored) but also for his impact on the National Football League. He was a very talented athlete, known as “Mitts” because his hands were so big. Thrower could throw the ball over 60 yards. He went to Michigan State, appeared in the national championship game, and was later signed by the Chicago Bears. In his first game, he came in the game for an injured future hall-of-famer, George Blanda, and led the team to a 4th quarter come back victory. After this appearance, and many other successful seasons, African-Americans were getting more chances to play football all over the country.

Willie Thrower integrated the quartback position and changed the league. Now, African-Americans are still revolutionizing the game. Thrower lead the way for the Randall Cunningham’s, the Mike Vicks, and the Cam Newtons. He doesnt get as much respect or attention as Jackie Robinson, but Willie Thrower paved the way for just as much culture, and for that we thank you.


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