#17 Marlin Briscoe


SportFootball
HometownOmaha
Born1945

Marlin Briscoe has said that he never viewed himself as a black quarterback, just a quarterback.

But when the president calls you a "trailblazer" in person, you know you've done something special.

Barack Obama did so while shaking Briscoe's hand in 2012 at the White House as the 1972 champion Miami Dolphins were honored on the 40th anniversary of their unbeaten season, the last by an NFL team.

Briscoe was a receiver on that team, four years after making history with the Denver Broncos during his rookie season in the AFL. The Omaha South and Omaha University standout entered a September 1968 game with Boston at quarterback with about 10 minutes to play. He started under center the next week.

In doing so, he became the first black starting quarterback in modern pro football history. Although he never thought of it as more than a rookie getting a chance to play, Briscoe understood the significance.

"Being a pioneer and setting the tone for future black quarterbacks ... was a responsibility I took very seriously," he later said.

Briscoe threw for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 308 and three scores that season, his only one as an NFL quarterback. He switched positions the following year with the Buffalo Bills and, in 1970, became an All-Pro as a receiver after racking up 1,036 yards and eight touchdown catches.

"Marlin the Magician," as Briscoe was known, finished with 224 career receptions. He also played for Miami, San Diego, Detroit and New England during his nine-year NFL career. He won Super Bowls with the Dolphins in 1972 and '73, leading the team in receiving in the latter.

Born in Oakland, California, Briscoe got his start in athletics in Omaha as a youngster. He received a rude introduction to midget football in the mid-1950s, coming face-to-face with another talented player destined for greatness.

"Gale Sayers was running for a touchdown and I was the last guy with a chance to tackle him," Briscoe said. "He was 13 years old and I was 11, and he ran right over the top of me. I still have the cleat marks on my chest. He was an unbelievable athlete. Gale definitely inspired me."

That inspiration took Briscoe a long way. He starred in football and basketball at Omaha South in the 1960s, then at quarterback at Omaha U. He was selected by Denver in the 14th round of the 1968 draft.

Briscoe is a member of the Nebraska High School Sports, the Omaha Sports and the Nebraska Black Sports Halls of Fame. A stretch of street in Omaha is now called Marlin Briscoe Way.

Quick facts about Briscoe

Played for: Omaha South High, Omaha University, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and New England Patriots

Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Omaha Central star and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers

Best moment as an athlete: When he became the first black quarterback to start in the NFL with the Denver Broncos in 1968

Early sign of greatness: Briscoe realized he had special skills while at Indian Hills Junior High. "I realized I had talent in all types of sports. I worked at it, but sports came easy for me."


Nebraska 100: 2005 edition

Briscoe was No. 17 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »