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The First Black Quarterback to Start for Each NFL Team

It took until 2017 but all 32 NFL teams will finally have a black starting quarterback.

Jacoby Brissett’s fill-in duty for the Patriots in 2016 in the wake of Tom Brady’s suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder injury left the Giants as the only NFL team never to start an African-American under center. But with the Giants floundering and Eli Manning looking past his prime, the team decided it was time to give Geno Smith a chance.

Below is a list of the first black quarterback to start for each team.

Originally posted at: https://www.si.com/nfl/list-first-black-starting-quarterback-every-team

#1 1968 — MARLIN BRISCOE, BRONCOS

Briscoe was the first black quarterback to start a game in a major pro football league. He started his rookie season with the AFL’s Broncos in 1968 as a defensive back but moved to quarterback midseason. He started five games and was released after the season. He played eight more years in the NFL as a receiver, only throwing nine more passes.

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#3 1973 — JOE GILLIAM, STEELERS

Gilliam spent four seasons with the Steelers and two seasons battling with Terry Bradshaw for the starting quarterback job. He was released after the 1975 season.

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#4 1974 — JAMES HARRIS, RAMS

After seeing limited action in three seasons with the Bills, Harris was released. He caught on with the Rams in 1972 but didn’t make his first start until 1974. He started nine of their 12 games and was named to the Pro Bowl.

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#8 1977 — JAMES HARRIS, CHARGERS

Harris’s final NFL stop was with the Chargers, for whom he started 11 games in three years. After retiring, Harris began a career as a scout and player personnel executive.

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#12 1986 — REGGIE COLLIER, COWBOYS

Collier’s career began in the USFL, but he joined the Cowboys in 1986. He made one start for Dallas and was released after the season. He played two games with the Steelers as a replacement player during the 1987 strike and later played in the Arena League.

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#13 1987 — VINCE EVANS, RAIDERS

Evans left the Bears in 1983 and spent two seasons in the USFL before returning to the NFL with the Raiders in 1987. He spent eight years with the team, mostly as a backup.

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#16 1994 — JEFF BLAKE, BENGALS

Blake played two years with the Jets as a backup before joining the Bengals in 1994 and became the starter midway through the season. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1995. (An earlier version of this post had Akili Smith as Cincinnati’s first black quarterback in 1999.)

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#18 1997 — WARREN MOON, SEAHAWKS

Moon was cut by Minnesota after a salary dispute and landed in Seattle. He led the league in passing yards per game and was named to the Pro Bowl as a 41-year-old.

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#19 1999 — TONY BANKS, RAVENS

Tony Banks took over after Scott Mitchell and Stoney Case didn’t cut it and opened the 2000 season as the starter, eventually ceding the job to Trent Dilfer after a rough October. Dilfer would lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl win that year. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Randall Cunningham (2001) started before Banks.)

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