Marlin Briscoe, who became the first Black starting quarterback in the American Football League more than 50 years ago, died Monday.
His daughter, Angela Marriott, told The Associated Press that Briscoe, 76, died of pneumonia at a hospital in Norwalk, California. He had been hospitalized with circulation issues in his legs.
Briscoe, an Omaha, Nebraska, native, was a star quarterback at Omaha University before the Denver Broncos drafted him as a cornerback in the 14th round in 1968. Briscoe told the team he’d return home to become a teacher if he couldn’t get a tryout at quarterback. Denver agreed to an audition, and the 5-foot-10 dynamo nicknamed “The Magician” made the starting lineup on Oct. 6.
Briscoe started five games that season. He was runner-up for AFL rookie of the year after passing for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushing for 308 yards and three scores.
Denver didn’t give him a chance to compete for the quarterback job in 1969, so he asked to be released. He became a Pro Bowl receiver with the Buffalo Bills and won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins. He was a receiver on the 1972 Dolphins team that finished with a perfect season.
Briscoe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.