Marlin Briscoe, AFL's 1st Black Starting QB, Dies at Age 76

Doric SamJune 27, 2022

EDISON, NJ - MARCH 03:  Marlin Briscoe attends the 2012 Collectors Showcase of America at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center on March 3, 2012 in Edison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
Bobby Bank/WireImage

Marlin Briscoe, the first Black quarterback ever to be named a starter in the American Football League, died Monday at the age of 76, per Cliff Brunt of the Associated Press.

Briscoe's daughter Angela Marriott told the AP that he died of pneumonia at a hospital in Norwalk, California after he was hospitalized because of circulation issues in his legs.

A standout quarterback at Nebraska-Omaha, Briscoe led the Mavericks to three conference titles and set numerous school records.

Briscoe was originally drafted as a cornerback by the Denver Broncos in 1968. He informed the team that he'd return to his teaching career if he didn't receive a tryout at quarterback. The Broncos granted his wish, and he was inserted into the starting lineup in October of his rookie season.

Nicknamed "The Magician," Briscoe made five starts that year and threw for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 308 yards and three scores. He finished as runner-up in AFL Rookie of the Year voting.

Despite his talent as a signal-caller, Denver didn't give Briscoe a chance to compete for the starting quarterback position in 1969. He requested and was granted his release.

Briscoe signed with the Buffalo Bills and made the transition to wide receiver, which he did seamlessly. Briscoe led the team in touchdown receptions in each of his three seasons in Buffalo, earning a selection to the Pro Bowl in 1970.

The Bills traded Briscoe to the Miami Dolphins, and he was a member of their 1972 squad that finished with a perfect season. He also spent time with the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions before ending his career with the New England Patriots in 1976.

Briscoe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.