Marlin Briscoe, first Black quarterback to start in AFL, dead at 76

Marlin Briscoe, first Black quarterback to start in AFL, dead at 76

Marlin Briscoe, who made history as the first Black football player to start at quarterback in the American Football League before winning two Super Bowls as a wide receiver, has died at age 76.

His family said Briscoe died Monday following a battle with pneumonia.

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

Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos as a cornerback in 1968, Briscoe campaigned to play quarterback and got the chance in late September of that season when he entered a game as a reserve.

He made his first start on Oct. 6, 1968, and went on start four more games at the position that season, posting a 2-3 record while throwing for 1589 yards and 14 touchdowns as a rookie.

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Briscoe asked to be released the following season when he wasn’t given the opportunity to play quarterback, and signed with the Buffalo Bills as a wide receiver.

He set career highs with the Bills in 1970 with 57 receptions, 1,036 receiving yards and eight touchdowns en route to his first and only Pro Bowl selection.

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Briscoe was part of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, who remain the only team to win the Super Bowl after a perfect regular season. He won his second Super Bowl with Miami two years later.

His former roommate with the Bills, James Harris, was the first Black quarterback to begin an AFC season as a starting quarterback in 1969.

“It was at the time when Black quarterbacks were being denied, so you tried to make sure you were best prepared for the opportunity when it came,” Harris told the AP. “I was a lot better off because Briscoe was my roommate.”

Briscoe was recently hospitalized with leg circulation problems, and died at a Norwalk, Calif., medical center, his family said.

With News Wire Services

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