Marlin Briscoe Died: First Black Super Bowl Quarterback’s Death Cause Disclosed

Marlin Briscoe, the first African-American quarterback to start in the NFL more than 50 years ago, passed away on Monday. According to his daughter, Angela Marriott, Briscoe, 76, passed away from pneumonia in a Norwalk, California hospital, according to the Associated Press. He had been admitted to the hospital due to a lack of blood flow to his legs.

In 1968, the Denver Broncos selected Briscoe, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, as a cornerback in the 14th round of the draught. Briscoe warned the squad that if he didn’t get a chance to play quarterback, he would return home and become a teacher. When the Denver Broncos consented to let him try out, the 5-foot-10 dynamo dubbed “The Magician” nearly rallied his team to victory against the Boston Patriots on September 29th as a reserve before earning his first career start on October 6th.

As Marriott put it, “He’s made an enormous contribution to the sport.” It is my wish that he will continue to be acknowledged for his services.” And he couldn’t stop bragging about it.” That season, Briscoe appeared in five games. His 1,589 throwing yards and 14 touchdown passes earned him second place in the AFL rookie of the year race. He also ran the ball for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Briscoe threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns in his NFL debut against the Buffalo Bills.

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There were several of these touchdowns that Booker Edgerson, a cornerback with the Bills, was caught up in. In the opinion of the Bills’ Wall of Fame member and former AFL All-Star, Briscoe would have been a Hall of Fame quarterback if not for his racism. Even now, “he would have been one of the top quarterbacks,” Edgerson said. It would have been… ” Prior to Warren Moon, he would have been there.

For some reason, Denver didn’t give Briscoe a chance to contend for the starting quarterback position in 1969. Briscoe told Edgerson that the Broncos weren’t ready to fully commit to a Black quarterback, as Edgerson recounts. Briscoe joined Edgerson’s Buffalo Bulls team the next season. He helped James Harris become the first black quarterback in the AFL to start a season as a starter in 1969 when he shared a dorm room with Briscoe on the Bills.

“You tried to make sure you were best prepared for the opportunity when it came,” Harris said of the time when Black quarterbacks were denied. “Briscoe’s presence in my life made a significant difference.” In 1974, Harris became the first black quarterback to win a postseason game for the Los Angeles Rams. That year, he was also named Pro Bowl MVP.

As a Buffalo receiver in 1970, Briscoe made the Pro Bowl and won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins. He was a member of the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 squad. Despite his accomplishments, Briscoe never lost sight of the reality that he had been fired from his first position in Denver and had no way of regaining it.

This “bothered” Harris, according to the former teacher. “It wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. Despite being upset and unhappy, he was able to perform at a high level in a different job because he had a unique personality. A diversity coaching fellowship will be named for Briscoe before the 2021 season in recognition of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016. He continued to speak out against racial injustice even after his playing days. In 1968, he was proud of the progress he had made, but he expressed his disappointment that many of the gains he had won had been lost.

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