Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are making NFL history in Arizona.

There are always plenty of storylines surrounding the Super Bowl, when only two teams are left standing after a punishing NFL season to compete in America’s biggest game.

This year, though, there’s one landmark that just seems a lot more important.

That’s because, when Patrick Mahomes leads the Kansas City Chiefs against Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, it will be the first time two black quarterbacks compete for the Lombardi Trophy.

It’s a watershed moment for the NFL, which has struggled with equality and representation in the upper echelons of the sport, because now, at the very pinnacle of the game, we have two black players operating in the most important position in the most important game there is.

Even when all the focus for players is usually just on their tactics, their gameplans and their fitness, both Mahomes and Hurts realise the enormity of the situation, and the new ground they are breaking in hopefully inspiring a widespread change for the next generation.

“It’s special,” Mahomes said in the build-up to his third Super Bowl appearance on Sunday in Arizona. “There’s so many great ones that haven’t been recognised because of the stereotype of the black quarterback not being able to have sustained success.

“I’m glad that I’m able to be on this world stage with another quarterback in Jalen that’s able to play at a high level and prove that we’ve been able to do this the whole time.”

Hurts, at 24, will play in his first Super Bowl.

He said: “It’s a historic moment. To be on this platform and to give so many others so much inspiration moving forward, telling them that they can do it, too… it’s a proud moment.”

Doug Williams was the first black quarterback to play in and win the Super Bowl with Washington in 1988. Only six more black quarterbacks have appeared in the big game since then, with only Mahomes and Russell Wilson lifting the Lombardi Trophy.

Hurts will be the eighth, but it is the fact he will face Mahomes in the Super Bowl that gives hope of inspiring the next generation.

“I’ve learned more and more about the history of the black quarterback since I’ve been in this league and the guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this,” added Mahomes. “I’m glad that we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now.

“If we can continue to show that we can consistently be great, I think it’ll just continue to open doors for other kids growing up to follow their dreams and to be a quarterback of an NFL team.”

Progress should be much faster than in the past. Marlin Briscoe is regarded as the first black quarterback of the modern era, having played for the Denver Broncos in 1968. It took a decade for Williams to become the first black quarterback to be selected in the first round of a full modern-day NFL Draft.

Eldridge Dickey was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 1968 AFL/NFL Draft, but as has happened on several occasions, he was moved to wide receiver and never played in the league.

Even when Williams won the Super Bowl, it was due to an injury to Washington’s starter, and he was benched the following season despite an MVP performance in the big game.

Only 25 black quarterbacks have been first-round draft picks, but 13 of those have come since 2011 and seven in the past six years. This season started with 11 black quarterbacks in the NFL, and ends with two MVP candidates in the Super Bowl.

Two leaders debunk the biggest quarterback myth

A lack of diversity among NFL owners and head coaches could be cited as one of the reasons why black quarterbacks struggled, leading to a lack of trust and the creation of the myth that a black QB could struggle with the leadership role required to play the position.

In a National Public Radio interview, history maker Williams stated: “It was never about my ability to play the position as a black quarterback. That wasn’t the issue. The issue has always been one of leadership. Could you lead a group?”

That thought process seems to have finally been eradicated – with four of the five richest contracts in the sport given to black QBs as teams hand the keys to their success over to their talented quarterbacks.

Mahomes and Hurts are two of the best examples, with the Chiefs QB a leader from the very start and guiding his side to victory after victory – including running with a badly sprained ankle to set up the field goal that brought them back to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.

In Hurts’ case, much focus was placed on his athletic ability, but doubts cast on his throwing accuracy and leadership skills. He has responded with 22 passing touchdowns this season, and the fourth-best quarterback rating in the league.

Nobody knows the quarterback position better than the recently retired Tom Brady, and he believes that for the modern-day triggerman to be successful, leadership qualities must outweigh throwing ability.

“A lot of people can throw the football, and it’s a little bit overrated in my opinion,” Brady recently said on his Let’s Go podcast. “What’s more important is if the guys play with you and for you, and do they love you and respect you? And if they do, I’m confident you’ll be a great player.

“Because the players are watching everything you do, from how you sit in the cafeteria to how you interact with anyone who walks in through the doorway.”

Mahomes and Hurts are now the model for NFL quarterbacks.

Mahomes and Hurts are making history, but they are also leading the charge for modern NFL quarterbacks who must run, throw, and think their way to success.

After a stellar debut season that included records, awards, and a Pro Bowl selection, Robert Griffin III could have been a trailblazer with Williams’ former team Washington, only to have his career cut short by a knee injury.

“These guys are the new prototypical quarterback in the NFL- a triple threat, as they beat you with their arms, they beat you with their legs, and they beat you with their minds,” he said of the two Super Bowl quarterbacks.

“And the fact they’re the first two black quarterbacks to be going up against each other in the Super Bowl makes this even more sweeter for all the generations that are coming up after them.”

They have differing styles – Hurts is a superb runner who scores touchdowns for fun, coupled with a deadly deep throw, but his vast improvement over his first couple of seasons and his renowned work ethic really stand out.

Mahomes is a magician, perhaps the most entertaining QB in the league to watch with a plethora of unorthodox throws in his locker – side arms, under arms and no-look passes that we have not seen before but have become the norm.

He’s also a prolific winner, having reached the AFC Championship game in every full season as a starter, and now his third Super Bowl at the age of 27 – he’s the NFL’s future, and it should be a lot brighter for black quarterbacks.