There was a point in time when Blacks weren't though to be smart enough to run NFL offenses. Despite dynamic playcallers like Warren Moon and Donovan McNabb, there still exists lingering prejudice against Black quarterbacks, which has resulted in less opportunities for Black men to start at the position. This NFL season, out of 32 teams, 8 Black QBs are designated starters. It's time to learn their names.
Player: Cam Newton
NFL Team: Carolina Panthers
Controversy: Before being drafted, Newton was under investigation for NCAA violations and was accused by draft scouts of everything from lacking intelligence to having a "fake smile."
Reason to root for him: Newton proved doubters wrong by having a stellar rookie season and continuing his dynamic play into his second year. The Panthers don't have a lot of a weapons and their coach might be on the chopping block, but Newton is doing his best to give the team a chance to win.
Player: Terrelle Pryor
NFL Team: Oakland Raiders
Controversy: Like Newton, Pryor was also investigated by the NCAA and found to be in violation. Upon entering the NFL, they suspended him for his first 5 games.
Reason to root for him: Pryor has survived a tough upbringing and a media attack—both which would be tough on any young man. But beyond it all, he's shown that he's not just an athletic guy, he's a great passer and deserved the starting chance he won.
Player: Colin Kaepernick
NFL Team: San Francisco 49ers
Controversy: Kaepernick has been lucky enough to stay out of the media crosshairs so far—although one writer bizarrely took issue with his tattoos. The 49ers are off to a rocky start this season so his media fortunes could change.
Reason to root for him: He's just good. He replaced the guy starting ahead of him mid-way into the season and played like a veteran taking his team all the way to the Superbowl where they lost to the Ravens. There's no reason to believe he won't have an opportunity at another championship before it's all said and done.
Player: Robert Griffin III (RG3)
NFL Team: Washington Redskins
Controversy: RG3 has received some grumbling from folks for being too much of a media fixture and for appearing to publicly spar with his coach.
Reason to root for him: Toward the end of an excellent rookie season, RG3 suffered a concussion and a torn ACL. He has struggled thus far this season leading some to wonder if he'll return to previous form.
Player: Russell Wilson
NFL Team: Seattle Seahawks
Controversy: Just under 6-feet tall, folks doubted whether Wilson could survive starting in the NFL.
Reason to root for him: Wilson is a true baller and his entire team is fun to watch. He's got wheels and an arm to match.
Player: EJ Manuel
NFL Team: Buffalo Bills
Controversy: Manuel was considered a long shot to be a starting QB.
Reason to root for him: It's great seeing a guy exceed expectations. The Bills have been in a slump for a while after wasting a big contract on a QB who turned out to be a bust. Manuel could breathe new energy into the franchise.
Player: Geno Smith
NFL Team: New York Jets
Controversy: Most people were not confident that Smith had the tools to be a starter, especially not right away. He also sparked a league investigation when he signed with Jay Z's Roc Nation.
Reason to root for him: From being embarrassed on draft night to replacing his team's controversial starter, Smith has nerves of steel. His play has been solid and hints at much more to come.
Player: Michael Vick
NFL Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Controversy: Many fans remain angry with Vick over his incarceration for well, you know.
Reason to root for him: Vick has been contrite about his mistakes and has shown great leadership since signing with the Eagles. With a new coach and plenty of weapons this could be the year he finally makes good on his talents.
Jessica Danielle is a writer and blogger who covers sports with wit and ardor at Playerperspective.com.