The Great Black Hope

Doug Williams, Vince Evans, and the Making of the Black Quarterback

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By Louis Moore

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$39.00 CAD

From a leading scholar of sports and race, a story of two pioneering Black quarterbacks–one who became the first to win a Super Bowl, and one who couldn't make it in the racist world of the NFL.

There is no position in pro sports more recognizable, lucrative, and important than NFL quarterback. But while the league itself has always been integrated, quarterbacking was the exclusive domain of white players for many years. When Doug Williams and Vince Evans arrived in the league in the late 1970s, Black players were often dismissed as lacking the intelligence and leadership skills of a QB. They got death threats, faced racist questions, and knew that a single mistake could end their careers at any moment.

In this book, Grand Valley State professor Louis Moore tells the twin stories of Vince Evans–the electrifying player who should have succeeded, but could not overcome his numerous obstacles–and of Doug Williams–the star of the Washington Redskins, and the first Black quarterback to become a champion. He shows how easily Williams' triumphant story could have gone wrong, becoming another tale of supreme talent that the world only got to glimpse, and how his success changed the game and the country.

A skillful blend of game-time drama and social commentary, this book captures one of the unheralded heroes of the NFL, and all that he meant, both on the field and off.
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  • “Like a sharp pass zipped into the hands of a speedy receiver, Lou Moore hits his target in stride with The Great Black Hope. This is one of those delicious books with the ideal match of author and subject. Moore, a preeminent scholar of race and sports, tells the story not only of the historic NFL matchup between Doug Williams and Vince Evans, but of the nearly impenetrable fortress the league had built around the quarterback position that few Black men had been permitted to enter. This is a story that transcends sports, ultimately demonstrating that even the most aggressive attempts to sack Black achievement can’t withstand the opposing forces of persistence, talent, and courage forever. Eventually someone breaks through, and a position or a sport – or a country – is changed forever.”
    Andrew Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South
  • “Dr. Lou Moore is changing the way we understand the intersection of sports and the fight for Black liberation because he is perhaps the best researcher in the field. He understands the historic value of Black media in allowing the subjects of his research to speak for themselves. His book We Will Win the Day was a masterwork of this, weaving the story of desegregation into the world of sports in a manner we had not seen. Now, with The Great Black Hope, Moore is writing about the history of the Black quarterback with a depth of research and analysis that is unmatched.”
    Dave Zirin, The Nation
  • “In this book, Lou Moore doesn't just tell the story of the Black quarterback through football history in ways it's never been told before -- he also seamlessly weaves in football schematics and civil rights to perfectly illustrate everything Black quarterbacks have gone through to get here, from pioneers to the superstars of today.”
    Doug Farrar, USA Today Sports
  • “As with most things in life, sport evolves through time. What is typically missing from the discourse though, is cultural and historical context. In The Great Black Hope, Moore accounts the racial battles, history, and impact of African-American quarterbacks on American professional football."
    Shakeia Taylor, Chicago Tribune

On Sale
Sep 24, 2024
Page Count
320 pages

Louis Moore

About the Author

Louis Moore is a historian of African American history and sports history. He has appeared in media outlets including USA Today, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, Time, NPR, CNN,Huffington Post, Deadspin, and Rolling Stone. His research was cited in Brian Flores’ landmark lawsuit accusing the NFL of racial discrimination, and he has appeared live on CNN, MSNBC, BBC Sports, and Canadian Television to discuss issues involving the Black athlete. He also appeared in Vice Sports’ documentary “The Fear of the Black Quarterback.”
He has written two audible lecture series for the Great Courses/Wondrium: African American Athletes Who Made History and A Pastime of their Own: The Story of Negro League Baseball. Finally, he has published two academic books: I Fight for a Living: Boxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915, and We Will Win the Day: The Civil Rights Movement, the Black Athlete, and the Quest for Equality.

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