Nebraska Native Briscoe, Pro Football’s First Black Starting QB, Dies At 76

NORWALK, Calif.–(AP/KFOR June 27)–Marlin Briscoe, the first Black starting quarterback in the American Football League, has died at the age of 76.

Briscoe’s daughter, Angela Marriott, told The Associated Press that he died of pneumonia at a hospital in Norwalk, California on Monday.  Briscoe grew up in Omaha, was a two-sport star and All-State selection in football and basketball at Omaha South High School, before he went on to become a star quarterback at Omaha University from 1963-67 helping the team to a 27-11 overall record during his tenure.

Briscoe led Omaha to three conference championships and set 22 records, including 52 touchdown passes, 4,935 yards passing, a 55 percent completion record and a career total offense record of 6,253.

As a senior, Briscoe was named an NAIA All-American and also was named to the Michigan Chronicle’s All-American black team alongside LeRoy Keyes of Purdue and O.J. Simpson of Southern Cal.

The Denver Broncos drafted him as a cornerback in the 14th round in 1968. He told the team he wanted a tryout at quarterback. Denver agreed to an audition, and the 5-foot-10 dynamo nicknamed “The Magician” ended up starting five games that year.

Briscoe went on to be an All-Pro receiver for the Buffalo Bills and was traded by the Bills to Miami after the 1971 season, joining the Dolphins in time to play a key role in their historic 17-0 season that culminated in a Super Bowl win.

Briscoe was one of the inaugural inductees into the UNO Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975.  He was later inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame and in 2016, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.