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'It's a part of my identity': Love establishes himself as Packers 1st full-time black quarterback

Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 16, 2024

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — This season, Jordan Love became the first first-year starting quarterback to lead the Green Bay Packers to the playoffs.

It's a historic accomplishment. But the minute he even stepped on the field in Week 1, Love broke a major barrier: becoming the first Black quarterback to start a season for one of the league's most iconic franchises.

  • Love was the third Black quarterback to start a game for the Packers (Seneca Wallace, 2013; Brett Hundley, 2017), but the first to open the season as the stater.
  • In the first 48 years of the NFL, there were only two Black quarterbacks. One of them, Charlie Brackins, played for the Packers. He threw two passes in the 1955 season.
  • This season, a record 14 Black quarterbacks started in Week 1. That's up from four in 1998, the year Love was born.
  • Following his first start in September, Love said he hopes the influx of representation at the sport's premiere position inspires younger generations to pursue it themselves.
  • This past season the 25-year-old Love threw for 4,159 yards and accounted for 36 total touchdowns, leading the Packers to the playoffs and establishing himself as the long-term face of the franchise.

Born in Bakersfield, Calif. to a Black father and a white mother, Jordan Love has embraced his roots.
“I think it’s a part of my identity," Love said in September, following his first start. "It’s just kind of part of my story."

Representation is growing across the NFL. This season, Love was one of 14 Black quarterbacks to start in Week 1. That's an all-time high.

In 1998, the year Love was born, only four Black players began the season as a team's starting quarterback.

“I think growing up, it was cool for me to be able to see some of the Black quarterbacks that played because there weren’t a lot of them," Love said in that same September interview. "It was kind of motivation for me to be able to do that and pursue that.”

Cliff Christl, the Packers official team historian, notes that early in league history, quarterbacks were almost exclusively white.

“There were only two Black quarterbacks in the first 48 years of the NFL,” Christl told NBC 26.

One of them played for the Packers. Charlie Brackins, who was drafted in 1955.

“Great story," Christl said of Brackins. "He was from Prairie View A&M. A (historically Black) college. He apparently had a ton of ability.”

But Brackins threw only two career passes and was cut before the season ended.

A few years later, Vince Lombardi took over the franchise. The legendary coach was famously progressive in his roster-building.

“The Packers had I believe probably the most black players in the league in 1967," Christl said. "It was critical to them winning their three straight titles.”

Most of those players - like Hall of Famers Herb Adderley and Willie Davis - played defense, with Bart Starr locked in at quarterback.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that if (Lombardi) would have found a black quarterback or drafted one and he was good enough, that he would have played him," Christl said. "I don’t think there’s any question about that."

But it took almost 60 years for that barrier to be broken.

“It’s awesome for younger generations to be able to see that," Love said. "And continue to pursue that for themselves.”

In just one year, Love has given many young fans representation and inspiration. With the way last season ended, it looks like his best is yet to come.

“This is a team that’s had a long history of great quarterbacks," Christl said. "Based on everything Jordan Love showed down the stretch he’s certainly, I would think, has a long-term future in Green Bay as the starting quarterback.”

While Love is the franchise's first long-term Black quarterback, he is the third to start a regular season game.

The other two - Seneca Wallace in 2013 and Brett Hundley in 2017, were backups who started in place of an injured Aaron Rodgers.