Steelers’ Russell Wilson Indirectly Reacts to Shannon Sharpe’s Black QB Remarks

Russell Wilson

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson appeared to respond to criticism from Shannon Sharpe on X.

Quarterback Russell Wilson referred to himself as a trailblazing black quarterback for the NFL during an interview with Essence’s Okla Jones. But Wilson apparently went too far with his own hype for NFL personality Shannon Sharpe.

Sharpe criticized Wilson for his Essence interview. In response, Wilson tried to clarify his commentary on his place in NFL black quarterback history on X (formerly Twitter).

“Let’s start building each other up!!!

“The Evolution of Black QBs in the NFL has been one of the coolest experiences in my life to be a part of,” tweeted Wilson.

“Full context is always important!

“Grateful for those before me. Those with me. And those after me. God is Good!”

Along with the message, Wilson highlighted passages from Jones’ story that mentioned other Black quarterbacks. Some of those signal callers played before Wilson while others have entered the league since his debut.

Shannon Sharpe Criticizes Russell Wilson for His Place as a Trailblazing QB

Wilson became the second Black quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl in February 2014. With that victory, Wilson was also the first Black quarterback to win the big game since 1988.

But things have changed considerably since Wilson has joined the league. According to Steelers Now’s Chris Ward, the NFL had twice as many Black starting quarterbacks during Week 1 of 2023 (14) as the league did in 2002 (7). In February 2023, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts squared off in the first Super Bowl matchup of two Black signal callers.

Wilson obviously takes a lot of pride in those facts.

“For me to be able to go to back-to-back Super Bowls, and win one of them, I think opened up a lot of doors,” Wilson said in his interview with Essence. “Now you see guys like Patrick Mahomes who won it; it’s really just us so far, but there’s more to come.”

“What I love to see is guys getting drafted early, and that a lot of teams these days have Black quarterbacks playing for them. It’s all across the league, and it’s showing how the National Football League is starting to evolve, change and break down barriers. I think one of the biggest blessings of my career so far is that I’ve been fortunate to be able to open up doors for others, because of what others did for me.”

But Sharpe appeared to take issue with Wilson’s commentary on himself as a trailblazer because he didn’t mentioned a lot of Black quarterbacks before him.

“So what role did Doug Williams play? The first African-American quarterback to actually get to and win the Super Bowl and win MVP,” Sharpe said to his co-host on the Nightcap Podcast. “So what about Shack Harris? What about Joe Gilliam? So what did Marlin Briscoe do? Jack Harry? Steve McNair? They opened no doors? Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick? It was you?”

Chad Johnson Defends Wilson’s Black QB Commentary

Wilson may not have mentioned all the former Black quarterbacks that Sharpe did. But some of them were part of the conversation in Jones’ story.

Wilson’s discussion also appeared to focus mostly on the modern era. At least that’s how Sharpe’s co-host and former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson viewed the interview.

“Younger kids, younger generation. A generation that probably won’t know about Doug Williams, the Steve McNairs, the other quarterbacks you named that were Black that you’ve named,” Johnson told Sharpe. “The kids in today’s era might not recognize or know about them.

“So I think, in a sense, Russell Wilson was speaking on behalf of his era and the era of younger generation kids that are playing now.”

But for extra clarification, Wilson tried to add more context through his tweet.

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