Marlin Oliver “The Magician” Briscoe was a football quarterback for the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL). When the Denver (Colorado) Broncos drafted him in 1968, Briscoe became the first African American Quarterback in professional football to start on a football team.
Briscoe was born on September 10, 1945, in Oakland, California. His family relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, and Briscoe attended Omaha South High School, where he played on the football team that won the state championship as a running back. After graduating from high school, Briscoe attended the University of Nebraska, Omaha and played for the football team, the Mavericks, as a quarterback. During his time with the Mavericks the team had a 27-11 record and three conference titles. Briscoe graduated in 1967 and entered the 1968 NFL Draft. The Denver Broncos took him in the 14th round.
The Broncos originally wanted him to play the cornerback position, but he negotiated with the team to compete for the quarterback position. On September 29, 1968, Briscoe had his first opportunity as a quarterback during the fourth quarter against the then Boston Patriots (Now the New England Patriots) after starting quarterback Steve Tensi suffered a broken collarbone. In the game, Briscoe’s first play was a 22- yard completion leading to an 80-yard touchdown drive. A week later, on October 6, 1968, Briscoe became the first African American starting quarterback in the American Football Conference (AFL). He threw 14 touchdowns in 5 starts during the rest of the season.
During the 1969 season, controversy occurred when coach Lou Saban chose Pete Liske over Briscoe as starting quarterback. In protest, Briscoe asked to be released from the Broncos and went to the Buffalo (New York) Bills, where he played as a wide receiver. During his time playing with the Bills, he led the team in touchdown catches and made the pro bowl in 1970. In 1971, Briscoe was traded to the Miami (Florida) Dolphins, where he led the team to two Super Bowls wins in 1972 and 1973 while still playing wide receiver. Briscoe played with the San Diego (California) Chargers (Now the Los Angeles Chargers), the Detroit Lions, and the New England Patriots, retiring after the 1976 NFL season.
After retirement from the NFL, Briscoe moved to Los Angeles, California. He became a municipal bond broker and worked with the Boys and Girls Club in Long Beach, California. In 2016, the University of Nebraska Omaha honored him with a statue.
Marlin Oliver Briscoe died on June 27, 2022, at age 76.
Do you find this information helpful? A small donation would help us keep this available to all. Forego a bottle of soda and donate its cost to us for the information you just learned, and feel good about helping to make it available to everyone.
BlackPast.org is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and our EIN is 26-1625373. Your donation is fully tax-deductible.
“Marlin Oliver “The Magician” Briscoe,” Mile High Report, https://www.milehighreport.com/2011/2/12/1989959/marlin-the-magician-bronco-pioneer; “Marlin Oliver “The Magician” Briscoe,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/27/sports/marlin-briscoe-dead.html; “Marlin Oliver “The Magician” Briscoe,” Black Enterprise, https://www.blackenterprise.com/marlin-briscoe-first-black-starting-quarterback-in-super-bowl-era-dies-at-76/.