How did Marlin Briscoe die? First Black starting quarterback in AFL, 76, was called 'The Magician'

The Denver Broncos drafted Marlin Briscoe as a cornerback in the 14th round in back 1968, when he was 22


                            How did Marlin Briscoe die? First Black starting quarterback in AFL, 76, was called 'The Magician'
Marlin Briscoe became the first black starting quarterback in the history of the AFL (@Broncos/Twitter)
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The first Black starting quarterback in the American Football League, Marlin Briscoe, died on Monday, June 27, aged 76. Briscoe, an Omaha, Nebraska, native, was a star quarterback for Omaha University. The Denver Broncos later drafted him as a cornerback in the 14th round in back 1968, when he was 22. 

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Briscoe's daughter, Angela Marriott, told The Associated Press that her father died of pneumonia at a hospital in Norwalk, California. He had been hospitalized with circulation issues in his legs. “He’s made an immense contribution to the sport,” Marriott said. “I hope that he continues to get recognized for the contributions that he made. He was so proud of that achievement.”

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Briscoe, nicknamed 'The Magician', played high school football at Omaha South High School and college football at Omaha University from 1963 to 1967. The college's name was later changed to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 

After the Denver Broncos drafted Briscoe as a cornerback in the 14th round in 1968, he negotiated for a chance to compete for the quarterback position. In a game against the Boston Patriots on September 29, 1968, Briscoe became the first black starting quarterback in the history of the AFL. He then spent the majority of his career as a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. During his brief stint with the Miami Dolphins, the team won two Super Bowls. Briscoe also played for the Dan Diego Chargers, the Detroit Lions, and the New England Patriots.

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Marlin Briscoe was an Omaha, Nebraska, native (@Broncos/Twitter)

Briscoe was inducted into the UNO Athletic Hall of Fame (1975), the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame (1996), the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame (2006), and the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame (2007). A life-sized bronze statue of Briscoe was unveiled at Baxter Arena in 2016. The statue was moved to UNO's Dodge Campus next to Caniglia Field in 2019, where Briscoe played football for OU. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December 2016.

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Briscoe moved to Los Angeles after he retired from professional sports, and soon became a successful financial broker dealing in municipal bonds. He became addicted to cocaine at one point in his life but recovered after an extensive rehab. He worked as the director of the Boys and Girls Club in Long Beach, California, in the 21st century. He is also known for having founded a football camp for children. Throughout his life, Briscoe remained outspoken about racial injustice.

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Denver Broncos put out a statement on social media after Briscoe's death. "RIP to “The Magician.” Marlin Briscoe was a pioneer who shattered barriers, making history as the first Black starting quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Our deepest sympathies go out to Marlin’s family, friends and former teammates," it wrote on Twitter. "We are saddened by the passing of legend Marlin Briscoe, who was the first Black starting quarterback in the AFL. Marlin was a pioneer of the game and his legacy will live forever," NFL wrote in a statement.

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HOF Quarterback Warren Moon wrote on Twitter, "Today is a sad day for me. One of my Idols growing up, Marlin Briscoe, passed away. He was one of a few Black QBs of the late 60s that gave me the inspiration that one day I could play QB as a professional. Marlin was the 1st Black QB to start in the AFL." Jeremy Kelley, former gridiron football wide receiver, said, "Terribly saddened to hear of Marlin Briscoe’s passing. I took this photo of him finding his name on the Pro Bowl slate during his last visit to Buffalo in 2018. Trailblazer, Legend, “The Magician”."

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In a tweet, Omaha Mavericks said, "Former Omaha quarterback Marlin Briscoe has died at age 76. Briscoe went on to be the first black NFL quarterback after being drafted by Denver in 1968. Our hearts go out to the Briscoe family during this difficult time." "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Marlin Briscoe," Miami Dolphins said. Buffalo Bills said, "We’re saddened to learn that former Bills WR Marlin Briscoe has passed away. Our deepest condolences are with his friends and family."

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American former football quarterback Warren Moon said, "Today is a sad day for me. One of my Idols growing up, Marlin Briscoe, passed away. He was one of a few Black QBs of the late 60s that gave me the inspiration that one day I could play QB as a professional. Marlin was the 1st Black QB to start in the AFL." Former gridiron football wide receiver wrote, "Terribly saddened to hear of Marlin Briscoe’s passing. I took this photo of him finding his name on the Pro Bowl slate during his last visit to Buffalo in 2018. Trailblazer, Legend, “The Magician”.

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