Marlin Briscoe, first Black starting quarterback of Super Bowl era, dies at 76

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Marlin "The Magician" Briscoe, a two-time Super Bowl-winning player who became the first Black starting quarterback of the Super Bowl era, died at the age of 76 of pneumonia at a California hospital, his daughter told to the Associated Press.

“He’s made an immense contribution to the sport,” Briscoe's daughter, Angela Marriott, said. “I hope that he continues to get recognized for the contributions that he made. He was so proud of that achievement.”

Briscoe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016 following three consecutive conference titles for Omaha University where he set 22 school records, including completion percentage, passing yards and total touchdowns.

Despite starring as a quarterback, the AFL's Denver Broncos selected Briscoe in the 14th round of the 1968 draft to play cornerback or receiver. Briscoe reportedly told the team he wouldn't play unless they let him try out at quarterback.

Briscoe got his chance after starting quarterback Steve Tensi suffered a broken collarbone in the third game of the season. The Broncos went to the 5-foot-10 Briscoe under center, who completed 2-6 passes for 43 yards and rushed five times for 51 yards and a touchdown in a loss. Briscoe return the following week to make history on Oct. 6, 1968, as the first Black starting quarterback in the AFL in the Broncos' 10-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

He finished the season with 224 total passes attempted, including in five games as the starter, and tallied 1,589 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

“I made sure that all of my passes were completions with zip on the ball,” Briscoe told the Associated Press in 2018. “When it came to the long bomb, I’d wait till the receiver would get damn near out of sight. They couldn’t believe a kid this small could throw the ball that far.”

Briscoe never played quarterback again, but he played eight more seasons in the league and won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins in 1972 and 1973. He played in 105 total games from 1968-1975. Briscoe also helped pave the way for another Black player to earn a starting quarterback role: former Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams quarterback James Harris.

The Broncos, Dolphins and the NFL offered their condolences after Briscoe's passing.

Marlin Briscoe died Monday at the age of 76. (AP Photo/File)
Marlin Briscoe died Monday at the age of 76. (AP Photo/File)
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