By Rich Tandler
Tuesday was media day at the Super Bowl and every year when that rolls around talk turns to the multitude of dumb questions that get asked of the players during that event. Inevitably, the story of the question that Redskins quarterback Doug Williams supposedly was asked prior to Super Bowl XXII comes up.
As the tale goes, Williams, who was to become the first black man ever to start at quarterback in a Super Bowl, fielded dozens of questions about what his skin color meant. And then one reporter asked the ultimate dumb question:
“Doug, how long have you been a black quarterback?”
Great story showing just how dumb the media can be. Only problem is, it didn’t happen.
According to Snopes.com, a website that investigates urban legends and other such myths, that wasn’t quite the reporter’s question. Bob Kravits, then a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News and currently a writer for the Indianapolis Star, tells the real story of the question asked by Butch John of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
I hate to burden this column with the truth—really, why start now?—but I was next to the guy when that question supposedly was asked of Doug Williams, and what the reporter actually said was, “Doug, obviously you’ve been a black quarterback your whole life. When did race begin to matter to people?” Which was a perfectly reasonable question on a day when Williams was fielding hundreds of “black quarterback” questions. Problem was, Williams either misunderstood or didn’t hear the question because he said, “How long have I been a black quarterback?”
So, there you have it. The only person to utter the words about how long he’d been a black quarterback on that day was Doug Williams himself.