National Quarterback Hall of Fame to add 4 NFL Legends

National Quarterback Hall of Fame to add 4 NFL Legends

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By Donald Hunt
The Philadelphia Tribune
(Reprinted with permission)

Grambling State has produced a lot of outstanding football players over the years. Two of them were quarterbacks, James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams, who had terrific college careers playing for late legendary head coach Eddie Robinson and went on to play some great football in the NFL.

Harris and Williams, along with former NFL signal callers Roman Gabriel, a former Philadelphia Eagle, and Kurt Warner will be inducted into the National Quarterbacks Hall of Fame at the 2020 NQBC awards dinner and Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Feb. 27, 2021.

NQBC will also celebrate Tom Flores with the Legacy Recognition Award and will select the National Quarterback of the Year in professional, college and high school ranks. The reception and dinner will take place in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“The National Quarterback Club honors uniquely courageous actions,” said Don Kile, NQBC president in a statement. We believe that telling the stories of those who act with leadership and courage inspires future generations to follow that example. At a time when there is much consternation, our world needs to recognize courageous leadership, respect it and require it.”

“These awards represent a veritable timeline of great quarterbacks and great men in American football history. If there is a lesson in the lives of the four men we honor this year, it is that none of us can afford to be lookers-on standing on the sidelines. The energies and talents of all of us are needed to meet the challenges of our communities.”

Harris played at Grambling State from 1965 to 1968, where he led the Tigers to three of four consecutive Southwestern Athletics Conference championships and was named MVP in the 1967 Orange Blossom Bowl Classic.

As a senior, he passed for 1,972 yards and 21 touchdowns on just 225 attempts. In three years as Grambling’s starting quarterback, he guided the Tigers to a 24-5-1 record.

In 1969, Harris was drafted by the AFL’s Buffalo Bills in the eighth round of the Common Draft, a year before the NFL merger with the AFL, he became the first Black quarterback to start a season opener in either league. He spent three years with the Bills. After that, he was released and signed by the Los Angeles Rams.

In 1974, he played for Rams head coach Chuck Knox who moved him into the starting lineup. Harris connected on 12 of 15 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another score in his starting debut against the San Francisco 49ers. Harris led the Rams to a 37-14 victory in that game.


Harris led the Rams to the NFC Western Division title. He became the first Black quarterback to start and win an NFL playoff game. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team in 1974 and was selected MVP of that game. In 1975, he led the Rams to another division championship. He became the first African American to open a season as his team’s starting quarterback in NFL history.

In 1997, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers where he played three seasons before retiring. Following his playing career, Harris was in the head office for the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions prior to officially retiring from the NFL in 2015.

Harris is one of the co-founders of the Black College Football Hall of Fame along with Doug Williams.

Williams received a lot of national attention for his brilliant performance with Washington in Super Bowl XXII leading the team to a win over the Denver Broncos. He was named Super Bowl MVP for throwing 340 yards and four TDs during the second quarter of the game, setting a single-quarter record. In 1988, he became the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Williams was an All-American at Grambling State. He was a four-year starter and guided the Tigers to a 35-5 record and three Southwestern Athletic Conference titles.

In 1977, he led the NCAA in a number of categories, he had 3,249 yards from scrimmage and another 3,286 passing yards. He passed for 38 TDs that season and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Earl Campbell and was twice named Black College Player of the Year.

In 1978, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose Williams 17th overall in the first round of the NFL draft. He was the first Black quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Prior to him playing for Tampa Bay, the team had won just two games in the first two years of the franchise. Williams carried the Buccaneers to the playoffs three times in five seasons and led the them to the 1979 NFC Championship game.

He had two great seasons with Tampa Bay in 1980 and 1982. He received MVP awards both seasons from the Buccaneers after throwing for over 3,000 yards in each of those seasons.

After the 1982 season, he left Tampa Bay and played for the Oklahoma Outlaws, later known as the Arizona Outlaws in the United States Football League. He had two great years in the USFL prior to the league folding in 1985. He threw for 6,757 yards and 36 TDs during those seasons.

In 1986, Williams came back to the NFL and signed with Washington. In 1988, he guided Washington to a big Super Bowl victory over Denver. In 1989, he retired from pro football. He finished his career with 23,755 passing yards, 136 passing touchdowns and 19 rushing TDs.


In 1998, Williams was named head coach at Grambling State, succeeding Robinson, where he led GSU to consecutive SWAC championships. He is currently the director of player development for the Washington football team.

Gabriel played 16 years in the NFL. He played 11 years with the Los Angeles Rams and five with the Eagles.

He started his pro career with the Rams in 1962. He led the Rams to a 41-14-4 overall and was selected to three Pro Bowls.

Following the 1972 season, Gabriel was traded to Philadelphia where he put together a sensational season and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He led the Eagles with 270 completions, 460 attempts, 3,219 yards and 23 touchdowns. With Gabriel as the starting quarterback, the Eagles offense was the most prolific offense in the league.

Kurt Warner played 16 years of pro football including three seasons with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena League and one season in Europe.

In 1997, after the St. Louis Rams season had concluded, he signed a futures contract to enter the NFL in 1998, he was dealt to NFL Europe to play for the Amsterdam Admirals, where he would lead the league in TDs and passing yards that season.

Following that season, he came back to the Rams. In 1999, Warner replaced Trent Green, who had a season ending injury. Warner went onto have one of the best seasons by a quarterback in NFL history throwing for 4,353 yards with 41 TDs and completion rate of 65.1 percent. He led the Rams to the Super Bowl title in 2000. The Rams offense was nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

Warner played in four Pro Bowls. He won two MVP awards. He played with the Rams from 1998-2003. He played one season with the New York Giants in 2004. After that, he played with the Arizona Cardinals from 2005-2009. Warner played in three Super Bowls (2000, 2001 and 2008).

In 2017, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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