Cam Newton and Tyrod Taylor are the only African-American starting quarterbacks among the league’s 12 playoff teams entering this weekend’s NFL Wild Card action. They are two of the most popular players in the game, but despite navigating their franchises into the postseason, both quarterbacks endured their share of ups and downs this season and swallowed a good amount of criticism from media, management and fans. So in that regard they are also two of the most underappreciated warriors in the sport. 

The Shadow League on Twitter

An absolutely idiotic and sexist comment from Cam Newton. 🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️ https://t.co/58oqOlYQG1

While trying to recover from offseason shoulder surgery and lift the Panthers back into the playoff picture, Cam also dealt with Twitter attacks, being labeled a sexist, an egomaniac and unaccommodating to the media. This is in addition to the limited weaponry at his disposal, the tremendous offensive burden he carries and the constant criticism of his style of play and passing acumen. 

Despite all of these burdens, Cam was a one man band for the Panthers who finished tied with the New Orleans Saints at 11-5 in the NFC South. 

NFL News on Twitter

Cam Newton sends the Panthers to the playoffs! https://t.co/7OvBmZubfo

Newton will meet the Saints for the third time this season having already lost 34-13 and 31-21 to Drew Brees and the vaunted New Orleans offense this season. The only thing the Panthers really have in their favor is Cam and the fact that it’s hard to beat the same team three times in one season in the NFL. The more he does of this, the better chance they have of winning and controlling the clock. 

The Shadow League on Twitter

Cam Newton is out here destroying people's ankles in the open field. https://t.co/d8OoBFRVI2

Other than that, Cam and the crew have done nothing against the Saints in the regular season to imply that they could take them on the road in the Dome. 

Meanwhile in snowy Buffalo, Taylor plays every game with a chip on his shoulder. Despite his winning pedigree, Buffalo's executive branch and coaching staff don't think he is the guy that will lead them to a Super Bowl. His TD to interception ratio is always proper and his wheels get things done. But his passing numbers have never been that impressive and his skill set doesn’t fit head coach Sean McDermott’s vision, nor does he fit, according to Taylor, McDermott's color scheme for the future of the Bills’ offense. 

The Shadow League on Twitter

Truth. See Lamar Jackson critiques for more proof. https://t.co/TpZt30TCEJ

It’s unlikely Taylor will be with the Bills when training camp opens in 2018, but for now, he has another shot to prove to the city that was thirsty for a playoff game, why he was always their best option. A couple of playoff wins on the way out of the door would make Taylor’s bittersweet Buffalo ride worthwhile. His postseason journey begins with a very winnable Wild Card battle with the inconsistent and unpredictable Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend. 

Regardless of what Taylor does, there is no reconciling his fractured relationship with the Bills. He was humiliated when head coach Sean McDermott benchedhim for unproven rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman despite the fact that the Bills were 5-4 and in the playoff hunt. 

Here’s a guy that has the highest passer rating, completion percentage, adjusted yards per attempt, and the lowest interception percentage in Bills franchise history getting benched for an unproven rookie who then goes out and coughs up five picks in the first half of a 54-24 loss to the Chargers.

The Shadow League on Twitter

Tyrod Taylor after seeing Nathan Peterman throw 3 picks in the 1st quarter. https://t.co/2bPl6N4Nod

The following week Taylor was reinserted as the starter. He could have checked out and refused to play for McDermott, leaving the Bills in a disastrous situation. Instead he guided them to a 5-3 record and some big wins the rest of the way to help the franchise make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. 

The spotlight will be shining brightly on these two brothers who have had their pride bruised and humility tested and are now in the playoffs with a chance to erase all of the negative aspects of a season that tested the will and fortitude of both signal callers.