Mahomes and Hurts aware of the importance of this Super Bowl duel

PHOENIX (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is thrilled that budding young footballers around the world will be able to watch two black quarterbacks face off in the Super Bowl for the first time.

He’s also thrilled that they can see two very, very good quarterbacks.

“I’m really excited for both quarterbacks, which they can mean to a ton of kids,” Sirianni said during Monday’s Super Bowl media night. “Not only are they two African American quarterbacks, but they are the two best quarterbacks in the NFL this year. First Team All-Pro, Second Team All-Pro.

“They are both playing at the highest level.”

There are many stories for this Super Bowl, but the duel between Jalen Hurts of Philadelphia and Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City is right at the top of the list.

The significance of Sunday’s game in Glendale, Arizona is not lost on Mahomes.

“I think about it a lot,” Mahomes said. “The quarterbacks that came before me – Shack Harris, Doug Williams – who laid the groundwork for me to be in this position. It goes through all sports. If you think of Jackie Robinson and the people who broke the color barrier in baseball, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.

“Getting the chance to be in this position – and to play against another great guy like Jalen – will be a special moment. I’m glad we’re here today, but how can we keep moving forward? How can we inspire younger kids who want to pursue their dreams of being a quarterback?”

It’s not just the quarterbacks relishing the game-breaking game. Offensive chiefs Jerick McKinnon said the players are well aware of what they are witnessing.

“History is being made,” McKinnon said. “It’s a beautiful thing. Something that I can look back on and say to my kids, “I was part of that, I went through that.” So it’s a blessing. This whole experience is a blessing.

“To have that on top of that just adds to that.”

Besides being good, both quarterbacks are also tough.

Hurts missed two season-ending games with a shoulder injury that still worries him. The Eagles didn’t have to lean on him in two lopsided playoff wins. He has 275 passing yards and two touchdowns as well as 73 rushing yards and two scoring, walking numbers by his standards.

Mahomes hobbled on a badly sprained ankle to help the Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 and advance to their third Super Bowl appearance in four years.

“It’s amazing – especially being Black History Month too,” Eagles cornerback Darius Slay said. “I’m grateful for this moment, to be a part of it. It’s crazy with two black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl, one of the greatest games in the world.

Washington’s Doug Williams was the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl after the 1987 season. This was back when black quarterbacks were quite rare in the NFL.

This season – 35 years later – started with 11 black QBs from Week 1 and now ends with a historic game.

Mahomes can become the first two-time winner if he leads the Chiefs to victory on Sunday. Hurts is aiming to become the fourth Black QB to win the Super Bowl, joining Williams, Mahomes and Russell Wilson.

Steve McNair, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Wilson also started in a Super Bowl and lost.

Now it’s Hurts vs. Mahomes.

After McKinnon heard that Sirianni said both quarterbacks were the best two in the league, he got a one-word response: “Facts.”

“It’s going to be a showdown – every four quarters,” McKinnon said. “It will be played until the last second. Jalen Hurts is phenomenal, I’ve watched him since college. The things he does and brings to the table are phenomenal.


AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this story.


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