The Orginal Dual Threat QB
May 25, 2013 8:56 PM   Subscribe

Among the many quarterbacks taken in the fabled 1983 NFL draft was the first Division I-A quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards and pass for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. He was Reggie Collier, the player who could have--should have--revolutionized the NFL three decades ago. But he wasn't one of the six QBs drafted in the first round. He wasn't white, either. His name wasn't called until pick 162, when the Dallas Cowboys took a flyer on him as a wide receiver. See, this was 1983, and the NFL wasn't going to change right away for Reggie Collier. posted by MoonOrb (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I can't believe Warren Moon tried to go incognito on MetaFilter with a name like Moon Orb. This post blew your cover Warren.
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:15 PM on May 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

This makes me a little proud of the success that black quarterbacks have found in the Canadian Football League, with not just Warren Moon getting his start back in 1978, but a number of others, from Damon Allen to Tracy Ham to more recently Henry Burris. (Actually, I just noticed that half the starting QBs in the current CFL are African-American, with another one of the eight being Hispanic.)
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:01 PM on May 25, 2013

It's hard to break through any conservative and ossified institution -- that's what the NFL is and that's what they all do.

That said, my stepmother, granddaughter of an original LA Rams season ticket holder, said James Harris was the greatest QB she ever saw. He wasn't really a dual threat QB, however.

She was also fond of Vince Ferragamo. Very fond.
posted by notyou at 11:43 PM on May 25, 2013

Also, Randall Cunningham? Paved the way.
posted by notyou at 11:47 PM on May 25, 2013

I don't know, it seems like 2012 was maybe the first time it was possible for dual threat QBs to have a real impact. It's not like it hadn't been tried before with Cunningham, Michael Vick, Vince Young (and I'm just naming the most successful ones). It's that it didn't work as well as consistently as more traditional offenses. No doubt the NFL was pretty hostile to black QBs for a good many years, but running QBs were tried over and over again with little lasting success. The 2012 edition of the mobile QB is different in that all of those guys pass well enough to win NFL jobs as traditional QBs. That they can run is a delightful bonus.

There were some mostly pocket passing black QBs who had some success during that period too: Warren Moon, Doug Williams, Rodney Peete, Steve McNair, etc.
posted by chrchr at 1:51 AM on May 26, 2013

running QBs were tried over and over again with little lasting success

Steve Young?
Fran Tarkenton? (never won a Super Bowl, but still)
Ken Stabler?

I still have the ticket stub from the USM/Bama game that Collier tied at Legion Field with a last-second drive. Grown men wept. WEPT. Then he got drafted by the Birmingham Stallions and we were all HALLELUJAH but three games in he blew out his knee and that was that.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:24 AM on May 26, 2013

Have you heard of Marlin Briscoe, who started at wide receiver for the Dolphins when they won Super Bowl number 8?
posted by bukvich at 5:35 AM on May 26, 2013

I think it is fascinating how sports can highlight the economic costs of prejudice of all sorts. The NFL is a rich source of examples of not only how racism retards performance but also how circumstances can play a massive role in potential being realized. Some great QBs languish as backups or alternate league players only to explode into brilliance when placed into the right situation. Others just languish indefinitely.

I still think last years Colin Kaepernick story is gobsmacking.

NFL Football is full of mostly unlearned lessons in social justice and economic efficiency.

Tragically the next big revolution in the NFL will probably be workers' compensation.
posted by srboisvert at 8:44 AM on May 26, 2013

1983 was also the year Herschel Walker (who won the Heisman trophy in 1982 as a sophomore at the University of Georgia) signed with Donald Trump's New Jersey Generals and more or less disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Talent doesn't mean much if you end up on the wrong team (and in the wrong league.)
posted by three blind mice at 11:28 AM on May 26, 2013

Walker was a junior when he won the Heisman, and he signed with the Generals a year before Trump bought them. I'll leave whether he disappeared from the face of the Earth as an exercise for the reader.
posted by Etrigan at 11:44 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

This photograph of James Harris with the Bills does look like something out of an alternate history.
posted by PHINC at 11:53 AM on May 26, 2013

Walker was a junior when he won the Heisman, and he signed with the Generals a year before Trump bought them.

Thanks for the correction. I couldn't be bothered to google Walker - I wasn't even sure if I'd find anything. His career ended before the Internet began.

This was a guy who left college football with huge expectations and he had a wholly mediocre professional career, but no one would suggest it's because the NFL wasn't going to change for him, or that there was some sort of bias against black running backs. Sometimes you just end up on the wrong teams.
posted by three blind mice at 12:11 PM on May 26, 2013

Herschel Walker was a two-time Pro Bowler, and more importantly, a two-time All Pro that was part of one of the most lopsided trades of all time "HWT - aka The Great Train Robbery". His decline from "future Hall of Famer" to "a guy with a couple of good seasons" could be told about any number of draft busts or "flash in the pan" players in the NFL.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 4:54 PM on May 26, 2013

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