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Tommie Frazier is our pick as the best African American college qb of All Time.  See all of Editor Lloyd Vance's picks below.

March 2007

Recently I was asked by a fan "who was the best African American quarterback ever, the most underrated, and the most overrated".  It was extremely hard to compare eras and pro versus college, but after careful analysis, I have listed my picks and why below. Remember this is my opinion !!  Please send your comments/opinions to our mailbox, We want to hear from you.

Best Pro:  Doug Williams - He will never make the Hall of Fame with his career NFL numbers of 88 games played, Passing for 1240 completions, 16998 yards w/100 TD's and Rushing for 884 yards w/ 15 TD's, but to me he experienced the entire cycle of the “black” quarterback. He had the extreme highs and lows, going from an Unwanted High School QB to HBCU College All American to Professional Starter to Vilified Holdout to the USFL to Unwanted Free Agent to Super Bowl Hero to “Black balled” Outcast in his professional career that spanned from 1978 to 1989. Trained by Legendary Head Coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling setting quarterback records finishing in 1977 with a NCAA Record 93 Touchdowns and 8,411 yards passing. Selected by Tampa Bay in the 1st Round, 17th overall of the 1978 NFL Draft. He became the first African-American quarterback drafted in the first round since the 1970 merger and he was not be asked to convert to another position unlike Eldridge Dickey before him. Led the Buccaneers to NFC Central Division title a couple times and barely lost to the L.A. Rams in the 1980 NFC Championship. And of course lets not forget Super Bowl XXII against the Denver Broncos where he was the first African American Quarterback to start in the Super Bowl. In the game Williams twisted his knee in the first quarter and the Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Williams was taken out of the game for a few plays, but responded in the second quarter with a Super Bowl record 228 yards passing with four touchdowns, in what some call the greatest performance by a quarterback in a quarter. He finished the game with Super Bowl record 340 yards and 4 TD’s in the 42-10 triumph and was named the MVP. 

Strong Honorable Mention goes to Warren Moon (HOF 2006) for passing for over 70,000 yards in a pro career that spanned 2 decades going from the CFL to the NFL to the Hall of Fame.

Best College: Tommie Frazier - This one was tough to pick with so many deserving candidates like Chuck Ealey (NCAA Record 35-0 as a starter), Sandy Stephens (1st National Championship Starting Black QB), Vince Young (2005 College Football MVP, Enough Said), Woodrow Dantzler (2,000 Passing and 1,000 Rushing in the same season) and others getting honorable mention.  But I had to go with Frazier. He was a player who could beat you with his legs and arm. He played in 3 national championship games winning two, one in 1994 over Miami in the Orange bowl and again in 1995 which came after he single handedly destroyed Florida 62-24 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl being named the MVP (199 rushing yards).  Frazier finished with a career record of 33-3, setting Nebraska quarterback passing (43) and rushing (36) touchdown records with an impressive record of 5,476 yards of total offense.  Was an All-American ('95), Won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award ('95), UPI Player of the Year ('95) and finished 2nd in the Heisman Trophy balloting also in 1995.  Too bad he had blood clots in his legs, because we never got to see him at his best at the pro level.  His pro career lasted one season in the CFL after going undrafted by the NFL.

Most Underrated: Joe Gilliam - In his brief, but notable career Gilliam showed brilliance.  Who knows how many Super Bowls he could have won if he didn't have the off the field issues. A tremendous athlete and downfield thrower, Joey followed Eldridge Dickey’s path at Tennessee State University playing from 1969 to 1971.  At TSU,  he broke every major record at the school and other historically black college records. He was an All-American in 1970 and 1971. Selected in the 11th-round by the Steelers in 1972 NFL Draft. He became a starter when some players including Quarterback Terry Bradshaw went on strike. When all of the players returned, Gilliam kept the starting job through six games with a record of 4-1-1. He however faltered and Bradshaw returned to lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory. Gilliam was never fully except by the Pittsburgh area in the early '70's, because, they were not ready for an African American quarterback. Gilliam received death threats and other hostile treatment including lots of “hate” mail. The outside pressure and on the field struggles regrettably led Gilliam to his unfortunate history of drug abuse. Gilliam played very little for the Steelers in the 1975 season (Another Super Bowl Victory) and was cut in the off-season.  His career numbers were 20 games played passing for 147 completions, 2103 yards w/ 9 TD's and running for 64 yards w/ 1 TD. 

Honorable Mention has to go to Damon Allen who over the last 23 years has been the dominate quarterback in the CFL.  Allen has won 4 Grey Cups while becoming the All Time leader in football passing yards with over 70,566 yards.  Holds the CFL record as well for passing yards and qb rushing yards.  Not bad number for a player that went undrafted in 1985 coming out of California State - Fullerton.

Most Overrated: Akilli Smith - He never lived up to his one great year at Oregon or his high draft status by the Bengals (3rd Overall in 1999). He was cut in NFL comebacks by Green Bay and Tampa Bay and didn't play well in NFL Europe as a backup. Finished his NFL career before age 30 with only 21 games played with 215 completions with only a percentage of 47% for 2212 yards, 5 TD's and 13 Interceptions.

Low mention has to also be given to former Oklahoma Sooners QB Charles Thompson (1986-1987) who went from being one of  the most highly touted high school option QB's to a player who didn't live up to his potential in college due to injuries and off the field issues.

-- Submitted by Lloyd Vance

 

 

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