The American University Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) honored superbowl winning quarterback Doug Williams at their annual Icons of DC Event.
Every fall, the American University PRSSA honors individuals or organizations who have served their community as “icons”. This year, the PRSSA opted to present Williams with the Icon Award for his contributions both on and off the football field.
“You think about all the people that live here in DC that deserve this award, and… you talk about making somebody humble,” Williams said during his acceptance speech. “I thought about from where I came, small town Louisiana, and you iconic in DC. It just didn’t add up.”
Williams, 68, won superbowl XXII with the Washington Commanders, then Redskins, back in 1988. He was the first Black quarterback to start in and win a superbowl, as well as the first to win superbowl MVP. Williams spoke to the audience about what that moment felt like.
“Walking off that day, walking off with my helmet held high…I said to myself no matter what happened yesterday, no matter what happens tomorrow, it was all about that moment.”
Williams would go on to work as an executive in the Washington Commander’s front office as the Senior Vice President of Player Development following his retirement. He currently serves as the Senior Advisor to Washington Commanders President Jason Wright.
Williams’ impact extends beyond the NFL. The former superbowl MVP does community work back in his home state of Louisiana. Following Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, WIlliams and former NFL pro bowl quarterback James Harris founded the Shack Harris and Doug Williams foundation to help disadvantaged youth in Louisiana. Afterwards, they founded The Black College Football Hall of Fame to recognize exceptional HBCU athletes.
Today, Williams continues helping young athletes as a high school football coach in his home state. Although he himself no longer plays, he still holds a sense of pride for the barriers he helped break down for modern day Black quarterbacks.
“There’s definitely pride there…14 [Black] guys started this week. You go back to 1978 only one guy started,” Williams said. “You give them an opportunity we all can do whatever we wanna do when we get a chance.”
As a changemaker himself, Williams left AU students in the audience with one final piece of advice for how they can help make the world a better place.
“I think the younger generation gotta get behind and make it happen,” Williams told the crowd. “There’s so many people who don’t care, and I think it's gonna take the younger generation to do that…people in you all’s generation.”