Marlin Briscoe, who was the first Black starting quarterback in the Super Bowl era, died at age 76 on Monday, according to a report from the Associated Press. Briscoe died of pneumonia at a California hospital.
Briscoe was a star quarterback at Omaha University, but the Denver Broncos drafted him as a wide receiver in 1968. The Broncos eventually gave him an opportunity at QB and he did not disappoint, passing for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns while adding 308 yards and three more scores on the ground in five starts.
Despite his impressive performance as a rookie, the Broncos did not plan to play Briscoe at quarterback in 1969 so he asked to be cut. Denver granted his request, but Briscoe unfortunately did not get an opportunity to play QB with another team.
Briscoe went on to play wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 1970. He later won a pair of Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins as a receiver, including Miami’s perfect 17-0 season in 1972.
After three seasons with the Dolphins, Briscoe went on to spend time with the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and New England Patriots. He caught 224 passes for 3,537 yards and 30 touchdowns during his nine-year career.
The Broncos named their season-long diversity coaching internship the “Marlin Briscoe Diversity Coaching Fellowship” last summer.
Russell Wilson, Denver’s current quarterback, thanked Briscoe for “breaking down doors” in a tweet on Monday.
Thanks to “The Magician” for breaking down doors for me & many others!#RIPMarlinBriscoe https://t.co/tG5XJQhzLs
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) June 28, 2022
Wilson quote-tweeted a statement from the Broncos.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of former Broncos QB Marlin Briscoe,” the team said Monday. “Marlin was a pioneer who shattered barriers, making history as the first Black starting quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
“He paved the way for countless others and created an indelible legacy, including through our Marlin Briscoe Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Our deepest sympathies go out to Marlin’s family, friends and former teammates.”
Briscoe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016. His 14 touchdown passes with the Broncos in 1968 is still a franchise rookie record.
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