Marlin Briscoe

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Marlin Briscoe
No. 15, 27, 86
Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1945-09-10) September 10, 1945 (age 75)
Omaha, Nebraska
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:178 lb (81 kg)
Career information
High school:Omaha South
(Omaha, Nebraska)
NFL Draft:1968 / Round: 14 / Pick: 357
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:3,537
Receiving touchdowns:30
Passing yards:1,697
Passing touchdowns:14
Player stats at

Marlin Oliver Briscoe (born September 10, 1945), nicknamed "The Magician", is a former American football quarterback and wide receiver. In October 1968, after being drafted by the Denver Broncos of the American Football League (AFL), he became the first black starting quarterback in professional American football and established a Denver rookie record of 14 touchdown passes that season. He played professionally for nine years.

College Career[edit]

From Omaha, Nebraska, Briscoe played high school football at Omaha South High School and college football at Omaha University from 1963 to 1967. The year after he graduated, his college changed their name to University of Nebraska at Omaha.[1]

Playing at quarterback, Briscoe led his team to a 27-11 record and three conference titles. He left with 22 school records, including completion percentage (55%), passing yards (4,935), touchdown passes (52), and total offensive yards (6,253). Briscoe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Briscoe was 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds when the AFL's Broncos took him in the 14th round of the 1968 draft at the age of 22. The Broncos intended to convert Briscoe to cornerback, but Briscoe had negotiated for a chance to compete for the quarterback position.[3]

On September 29, 1968, starter Steve Tensi suffered a broken collarbone, and backup Joe DiVito was spotty. Head coach Lou Saban summoned Briscoe from the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Boston Patriots to give him a try. Briscoe's first play was a 22-yard completion. On his second series he orchestrated an 80-yard touchdown drive. He completed a 21-yard pass and ran for 38 more himself, carrying it the last 12 yards for the score.

A week later, on October 6, he became the first starting African-American quarterback in the AFL. Briscoe threw 14 touchdown passes that year in just 5 starts, including 4 on Nov 24 against Buffalo; both are still Broncos rookie records. He also threw for 335 yards in that game, a rookie record that stood until John Elway broke it in 1983, and one of only three 300+ yard rookie games in franchise history. He completed 41.5 percent of his passes, and averaged 7.1 yards per attempt and his 17.1 yards per completion led the American Football League (and ranks 18th all-time). He also ran for 308 yards and three touchdowns.[3]

Before the 1969 season started, Briscoe, still determined to play quarterback, discovered that head coach Saban intended to use Pete Liske as the starter, so he asked to be released.[4] He went to the AFL's Buffalo Bills where he was turned into a receiver, since the Bills already had superstar Jack Kemp, former Pro Bowler Tom Flores, and James Harris, another black quarterback with a more prototypical 6-foot-4 and 210-pound frame. Briscoe never played quarterback again, but he enjoyed a splendid career. He led Buffalo in touchdown catches in each of his three seasons there and in receptions twice. In 1970 he was in the top two in receptions and receiving yards and became an All-Pro.

After the AFL-NFL merger, he played in the National Football League from 1970 though 1976, mostly with American Football Conference teams. In 1971, the Bills traded Briscoe to the Miami Dolphins for a first-round draft pick Joe Delamielleure, who developed as a Hall of Fame guard.

Briscoe went on to win a pair of Super Bowls. Briscoe led the undefeated 1972 team with four touchdown receptions and was the leading receiver on the Dolphins in 1973,[5] catching more passes than future Pro Football Hall of Famer, Paul Warfield.

Briscoe made stops with the San Diego Chargers, and Detroit Lions[6] before ending his career in 1976 with the New England Patriots. He had 10 receptions for 136 yards and 1 touchdown in 14 regular season games for the New England Patriots in 1976. He caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Steve Grogan in the Patriots 48-17 rout of the Oakland Raiders at Schaefer Stadium on October 3, 1976. Early in his career, Briscoe was intercepted by Boston Patriots AFL All Star Defensive Back Leroy Mitchell in Denver's 35-14 rout of the Patriots at Fenway Park on November 3, 1968. He is the only player to have been intercepted by a Patriot player and later to have caught a touchdown as a Patriot receiver.[7]

Retirement and legacy[edit]

Upon retirement from professional sports, Briscoe moved to Los Angeles. He became established as a successful financial broker, dealing in municipal bonds. Briscoe was affected by the 1980s cocaine epidemic, becoming addicted, but recovered after extensive rehab.[3] In the 21st century, he worked as the director of the Boys and Girls Club in Long Beach, California before retiring. He founded a football camp for children.[8]

A biopic film titled The Magician, based on Briscoe's life, has been under development for several years. Canadian actor Lyriq Bent has been approached to portray Briscoe in the film.[1][9] In 2016, the University of Nebraska Omaha, Briscoe's alma mater, honored him by unveiling a statue.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rakowsky, Ryan (July 5, 2006). "Former UNO, NFL football star subject of locally produced film". The Gateway. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c Reid, Jason (August 25, 2016). "The rise and fall and resurgence of Marlin Briscoe". The Undefeated. Archived from the original on April 8, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  4. ^,3300323&dq=marlin-briscoe+broncos+waived&hl=en
  5. ^ Vermaas, Herb (November 13, 1974). "Marlin "The Magician" Briscoe is Happy Pro". The Gateway Newspaper. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  6. ^ "Briscoe Fourth Hall of Famer". The Gateway Newspaper. November 7, 1975. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  7. ^ "Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots - October 3rd, 1976". Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  8. ^ "Sacco Sez: Marlin 'The Magician' Briscoe remembers". August 25, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  9. ^ "The Magician: A Film Based On The True Story of Marlin Briscoe". Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "Omaha football legend Marlin Briscoe immortalized in statue unveiled Friday". Retrieved September 5, 2019.

External links[edit]