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Marlin Briscoe

Marlin Briscoe
refer to caption
Briscoe in 2016
No. 15, 27, 86, 88
Wide receiver
Personal information
Born:(1945-09-10)September 10, 1945
Oakland, California, U.S.
Died:June 27, 2022(2022-06-27) (aged 76)
Norwalk, California, U.S.
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:178 lb (81 kg)
Career information
High school:Omaha South (Omaha, Nebraska)
NFL draft:1968 / Round: 14 / Pick: 357
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:3,537
Receiving touchdowns:30
Passing yards:1,697
Passing touchdowns:14
Player stats at PFR

Marlin Oliver Briscoe (September 10, 1945 – June 27, 2022), nicknamed "the Magician", was an American professional football player who was a quarterback and wide receiver in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL). In October 1968, after being drafted by the AFL's Denver Broncos, he became the first black starting quarterback in professional football,[1] and established a Denver rookie record of 14 touchdown passes that season. He played professionally for nine years.

Early life

Briscoe was born in Oakland, California, on September 10, 1945.[2][3] He relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, with his mother when he was five years old after his parents divorced.[4][5] He attended Omaha South High School,[2][4] where he starred in several sports and played at running back for a football team that won the state championship.[5]

College career

After graduating from high school, Briscoe played college football at Omaha University from 1963 to 1967. The year after he graduated, his college's name was changed to University of Nebraska at Omaha.[6]

Playing at quarterback, Briscoe led his team to a 27–11 record and three conference titles. He left with 22 school records, including completion percentage (55%), passing yards (4,935), touchdown passes (52), and total offensive yards (6,253). Briscoe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.[7]

Professional career

Briscoe was 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) and 177 pounds (80 kg) when the AFL's Denver Broncos took him in the fourteenth round of the 1968 draft at age 22. The Broncos intended to convert him to cornerback, but Briscoe had negotiated for a chance to compete for the quarterback position.[8]

On September 29, 1968, starter Steve Tensi suffered a broken collarbone, and backup Joe DiVito was spotty. Head coach Lou Saban summoned Briscoe from the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Boston Patriots to give him a try.[9][10] Briscoe's first play was a 22-yard completion.[9] On his second series he orchestrated an 80-yard touchdown drive.[9][11] He completed a 21-yard pass and ran for 38 more himself, carrying it the last 12 yards for the score.[9]

A week later, on October 6, Briscoe became the first starting African-American quarterback in the AFL.[12] He threw 14 touchdown passes that year in just five starts, including four on November 24 against Buffalo; both are still Broncos rookie records. He also threw for 335 yards in that game, a rookie record that stood until John Elway broke it in 1983, and one of only three 300+ yard rookie games in franchise history. He completed 41.5 percent of his passes, and averaged 7.1 yards per attempt and his 17.1 yards per completion led the American Football League (and ranks 18th all-time). He also ran for 308 yards and three touchdowns.[8]

Before the 1969 season started, Briscoe, still determined to play quarterback, discovered that head coach Saban intended to use Pete Liske as the starter, so he asked to be released.[11] He went to the AFL's Buffalo Bills where he was turned into a receiver, since the Bills already had superstar Jack Kemp, former Pro Bowler Tom Flores, and James Harris, another black quarterback with a more prototypical 6-foot-4 and 210-pound frame. Briscoe led Buffalo in touchdown catches in each of his three seasons there and in receptions twice.[13] In 1970, he was in the top two in receptions and receiving yards and became an All-Pro.[2]

After the AFL-NFL merger, Briscoe played in the National Football League from 1970 though 1976, mostly with American Football Conference teams. In 1971, the Bills traded him to the Miami Dolphins for the first-round draft pick used to take Joe Delamielleure, who developed as a Hall of Fame guard.[11][13]

Briscoe went on to win a pair of Super Bowls. Briscoe led the undefeated 1972 team with four touchdown receptions and was the leading receiver on the Dolphins in 1973,[14] catching more passes than future Pro Football Hall of Famer, Paul Warfield.[15]

Briscoe made stops with the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions,[16] before ending his career in 1976 with the New England Patriots; he had ten receptions for 136 yards and one touchdown in 14 regular season games for the Patriots in 1976. Briscoe caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Steve Grogan in the Patriots 48–17 rout of the Oakland Raiders at Schaefer Stadium on October 3, 1976, which was the Raiders' sole loss that season. As a rookie, Briscoe was intercepted by Boston Patriots AFL All Star Defensive Back Leroy Mitchell in Denver's 35–14 rout of the Patriots at Fenway Park on November 3, 1968. He is the only player to have been intercepted by a Patriot player and later to have caught a touchdown as a Patriot receiver.[17]

Retirement and legacy

He was one of the fifteen plaintiffs in Mackey v. National Football League in which Judge Earl R. Larson declared that the Rozelle rule was a violation of antitrust laws on December 30, 1975.[18][19]

Upon retirement from professional sports, Briscoe moved to Los Angeles. He became established as a successful financial broker, dealing in municipal bonds. Briscoe became addicted to cocaine, but recovered after extensive rehab.[8] In the 21st century, he worked as the director of the Boys and Girls Club in Long Beach, California before retiring. He founded a football camp for children.[20]

A biopic film titled The Magician, based on Briscoe's life, has been under development for several years. Canadian actor Lyriq Bent has been approached to portray Briscoe in the film.[6][21] In 2016, the University of Nebraska Omaha, Briscoe's alma mater, honored him with a statue of him.[22]

Personal life

Briscoe's three marriages ended in divorce. He had two children: Angela and Rebecca.[3]

Briscoe died on June 27, 2022, at a hospital in Norwalk, California. He was 76, and had developed pneumonia prior to his death, having been hospitalized for circulation issues in his legs.[3][5][23]

See also


  1. ^ "First black QB was easy choice". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. November 10, 1968. p. 5, sports.
  2. ^ a b c "Marlin Briscoe Stats". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Belson, Ken (June 27, 2022). "Marlin Briscoe, Pioneering Black Quarterback, Dies at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Marlin Briscoe Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame". University of Nebraska Omaha. September 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c "Marlin Briscoe, first Black starting quarterback in pro football, dies at 76". The Washington Post. June 27, 2022. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Rakowsky, Ryan (July 5, 2006). "Former UNO, NFL football star subject of locally produced film". The Gateway. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  7. ^ "Marlin Briscoe Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame". June 28, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Reid, Jason (August 25, 2016). "The rise and fall and resurgence of Marlin Briscoe". Andscape. Archived from the original on April 8, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d D'Abate, Mike (June 27, 2022). "QB Pioneer & Former Patriots WR Marlin Briscoe Passes Away". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  10. ^ Wiggins, David Kenneth; Miller, Patrick B. (2003). The Unlevel Playing Field: A Documentary History of the African American Experience in Sport. University of Illinois Press. p. 326. ISBN 9780252028205.
  11. ^ a b c Feinstein, John (June 28, 2022). "Marlin Briscoe pried open the door for Black quarterbacks in pro football". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  12. ^ "AP Was There: The first start for a black quarterback in AFL". Associated Press. September 26, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Brown, Chris (June 27, 2022). "Bills former WR Marlin Briscoe passes at 76". Buffalo Bills. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  14. ^ Vermaas, Herb (November 13, 1974). "Marlin "The Magician" Briscoe is Happy Pro". The Gateway Newspaper. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  15. ^ DeArdo, Bryan (June 27, 2022). "Marlin Briscoe, American pro football's first Black starting QB and member of undefeated Dolphins, dies at 76". CBS Sports. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  16. ^ "Briscoe Fourth Hall of Famer". The Gateway Newspaper. November 7, 1975. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  17. ^ "Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots – October 3rd, 1976". Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  18. ^ Wallace, William N. "Rozelle Rule Found In Antitrust Violation," The New York Times, Wednesday, December 31, 1975. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  19. ^ Mackey v. National Football League, 407 F. Supp. 1000 (D. Minn. 1975) – Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  20. ^ "Sacco Sez: Marlin 'The Magician' Briscoe remembers". August 25, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  21. ^ "The Magician: A Film Based on ohe True Story of Marlin Briscoe". Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  22. ^ "Omaha football legend Marlin Briscoe immortalized in statue unveiled Friday". Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  23. ^ "Marlin Briscoe, first Black starting quarterback in AFL, dies at 76". NFL. Associated Press. June 27, 2022. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
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Marlin Briscoe
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