Marilyn Brisco, the first black to start a quarterback in the American Football League more than 50 years ago, passed away on Monday.
His daughter, Angela Marriott, told the Associated Press that Brisco, 76, died of pneumonia at a hospital in Norwich, California. He was hospitalized with circulatory problems in his legs.
Brisco was a star quarterback at Omaha University in Omaha, Nebraska, before being drafted as a cornerback in the 14th round by the Denver Broncos in 1968. Brisco told the team he would return home if he could not become a teacher. Try in quarterback. Denver agreed to the audition, and the 5-foot-10 dynamo with the magical nickname gave the Broncos a reserve victory against the Boston Patriots on September 29 before a historic start on October 6.
“He’s made a huge contribution to the sport,” Marriott said. “I hope he continues to be recognized for his contributions. He was very proud of that achievement.”
Brisco started five games that season. He finished runner-up in the AFL Rookie of the Year after scoring 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns and 308 yards and three scores.
Denver didn’t give him a chance to compete for a quarterback job in 1969, so he asked to leave. He became a Pro Bowl receiver with the Buffalo Bills.
James Harris was Briscoe’s roommate for the Bills in 1969, and Briscoe helped Harris become the first black quarterback in the AFL to open the season as a starter.
“At a time when Black Quarterback was being denied, I tried to make sure you were perfectly prepared for it when the opportunity arose,” Harris said. “I was great because Brisco was my roommate.”
In 1974, Harris played for the Los Angeles Rams and became the first black quarterback to win an NFL playoff game. He was also a Pro Bowl MVP that season.
Brisco, meanwhile, won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins. He was the adopter of the 1972 Dolphins team that completed the perfect season.
Brisco never forgot the fact that he lost his early job in Denver without explanation.
“It bothered him,” Harris said. “Even though he switched, he was frustrated. To achieve what he did in that situation – frustrated, frustrated – to focus on achieving high success in second place, he put on a special make-up, a special man.”
Briscoe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016, and the Broncos named the Variety Coaching Fellowship in his honor before the 2021 season.
The Broncos said in a statement Monday that the organization was “heartbroken” to learn of Brisco’s death.
“Marlin was a pioneer who overcame obstacles, made history as the first black starting quarterback in the Super Bowl era. He paved the way for countless others and created an indelible legacy with our Marlin Brisco Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Former colleagues, ”the team said.
After his playing days, Brisco spoke openly about racial injustice. He was proud to move the needle in 1968, but he told the AP in 2018 that he was disappointed that many of the progress he had made in his day had been undone.
“I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, when all of that was rampant, but you know where you stand,” Brisco said. “Today, you may think that not all of those attitudes exist or have been filtered to some extent, but with Trump-isms, his philosophy has pulled out of the old-fashioned thought process. It’s scary – it really is.”Topics #Marlin Briscoe