Prior to the start of the 2016 NFL season, nobody expected rookie Jacoby Brissett to start for the New England Patriots. A third-round pick out of North Carolina State, he was drafted as a third-stringer, and seemed like someone who’d probably do little more than take a knee when the game is decided. But with Tom Brady out four games over his role in Deflategate and Jimmy Garoppolo out with an injury he suffered in the Patriots’ Week 2 win over Miami, Brissett will be starting tonight’s game against the Houston Texans, and making history in the process.

Patriots have had black quarterbacks before, but none have started

One of the more unfortunate aspects of Boston as a sports city is its history of racism, the very reason why NBA legend Bill Russell had a contentious relationship with Boston Celtics fans in the 1960s, despite his superstar status. Former MLB stars Mo Vaughn and Barry Bonds, the former being an ex-Red Sox standout, also havehad stories to tell of racism among Boston sports fans. And in the NFL, there have been only six other black quarterbacks to dress for the Boston/New England Patriots. Onree Jackson, Condredge Holloway, Eddie McAshan, and Jay Walker never played a regular season down for the Patriots, while Michael Bishop and Rohan Davey were ever-so-briefly on the field during their time with the team.

In their 57-year-history in the American Football League (AFL) and the NFL, the Patriots have never started a black quarterback, but Jacoby Brissett is expected to change that tonight. And he’s already made history for African-American Patriots QBs, despite not having taken the field as a starter as of this writing.

Despite only passing for 92 yards on 6-for-9 passing when he came off the bench in Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, that has been more than enough to beat Bishop and Davey in career passing yards for a black Patriots quarterback.

What else to expect for Pats: Edelman is backup QB, Gronk returns at TE

While Brissett’s presumptive status as starter against the Texans is the main talking point ahead of tonight’s game, there are a couple other interesting plots beyond that. For one, Brissett’s backup for tonight will be wide receiver Julian Edelman, who will start at his usual position but play quarterback in the off-chance Brissett may somehow get bitten by the injury bug. Also, New England will be welcoming Rob Gronkowski back to the team, as the colorful tight end will be suiting up after missing the 2016 NFL season’s first two games due to injury.

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