The Media Day Ritual: Doug Williams At Super Bowl XXII

Posted by Matt Terl on February 1, 2011 – 2:18 pm

It’s Super Bowl Media Day, and around these parts that means one thing: the annual retelling of the story of the stupidest question Doug Williams was never asked — or, rather, wasn’t asked in the way that people currently believe. Here’s the efficient retelling, from Jeff Merron of

The dumbest question in Media Day history came prior to Super Bowl XXII. You’ve probably heard the story. A mediot actually asked Redskins quarterback Doug Williams the following: “How long have you been a black quarterback?”

Can it get any worse than that? Probably not. Here’s the thing, though — the question was never asked. After Williams suffered through countless queries about being the first black QB to start a Super Bowl, Butch John, a reporter for the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, seemed to have had enough. So he said, “Doug, it’s obvious you’ve always been a black quarterback all your life. When did it start to matter?”

John’s statement and question were jokes. Most reporters there got it, and they laughed. And then it was printed. But it has been twisted around and repeated, in the form it takes in this story’s first paragraph, ever since.

But that’s not to say that there weren’t any dumb questions asked at that particular Media Day. Norman Chad was writing WaPo’s Sports Waves media coverage column back then, and his piece on the Super Bowl coverage is pretty terrific. He breaks down what was done station by station — and (as an aside) there were two features I would honestly pay cash money to be able to watch today:

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