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Marlin Briscoe, pro football’s first Black starting quarterback, dies at 76

Marlin Briscoe recalls racism he faced as the first starting black quarterback in professional American football during the Black Bodies in Leadership: Journey of the Black Quarterback panel at the Phoenix Art Museum on Feb. 20, 2020.Black Quarterbacks Panel
Credit: Eli Imadali/The Republic, The Republic | azcentral.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Marlin Briscoe, the first Black starting quarterback in pro football, died Monday at age 76.

His daughter, Angela Marriott, told the AP that Briscoe died of pneumonia at a hospital in Norwalk, Calif.

Briscoe made his first start for the Denver Broncos on Oct. 6, 1968, a 10-7 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Nicknamed “The Magician,” he started five games under center that season, passing for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushing for 308 yards and three scores.

When Denver didn’t give him a chance to play quarterback in 1969, he asked to be released and joined the Bills.

With Jack Kemp entrenched as the starting signal-caller in Buffalo, Briscoe transitioned to wide receiver and made the Pro Bowl in 1970 with 57 catches for 1,036 yards and eight touchdowns.

Briscoe went on to win Super Bowls VII and VIII with the Miami Dolphins and retired with 224 receptions for 3,537 yards and 30 TDs with six teams.

Briscoe, who starred at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

–Field Level Media