Marlin Briscoe, the AFL’s first Black quarterback and the first Black quarterback in modern pro football, died on Monday, his daughter told the Associated Press. He was 76.
Briscoe effectively broke the color barrier of playing QB as a pro in 1968 when he appeared in 11 games with five starts for the Broncos at the position. Denver had selected him in the 14th round of that year’s draft. He threw for 1,589 yards with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions that season. he also rushed for 308 yards with three TDs.
But after one season, the Broncos planned to move on to a different quarterback. So Briscoe asked for and was granted his release.
He signed with the Bills, where he converted to receiver and ended up earning a selection to the Pro Bowl in 1970. That season, he caught 57 passes for 1,036 yards with eight TDs.
Briscoe ended up playing nine seasons, winning a pair of Super Bowls with the Dolphins in the early 70s.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of former Broncos QB Marlin Briscoe,” the Broncos said in a statement. “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 finished his career with 224 receptions for 3,537 yards with 30 touchdowns.
With his standout collegiate career at Omaha University, Briscoe was inducted into the college football hall of fame in 2016.