Briscoe honored for breaking QB barrier

February, 12, 2009
2/12/09
10:35
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Marlin Briscoe, the first black quarterback to start a game in the modern era, was feted last week on the House floor.

 
  Darryl Norenberg/Getty Images
  On Oct. 6, 1968, Marlin Briscoe became the first black quarterback in the modern era to start a game.

U.S. Rep. Lee Terry of Briscoe's hometown of Omaha, Neb., entered him into the Congressional Record to honor his accomplishment 40 years ago as part of Black History Month.

A copy of the Congressional Record was presented to Briscoe on Monday at Metropolitan Community College, which sits on the former Armour packing house site three blocks from the bleak neighborhood where he grew up.

"It's gratifying that my city would honor me," Briscoe said. "There were several kids I grew up with in the projects that were able to come to the event and I wasn't able to see them for 40 years. That was rewarding for me. They knew the journey.

"It was unbelievable my city would open its arms to me and honor me as an important part of black history."

Briscoe made his historic start for the Denver Broncos in October 1968. He was converted to receiver with the Buffalo Bills the next season and became a Pro Bowler. He won two Super Bowl rings with the Miami Dolphins, playing on their undefeated 1972 team.

The Magician, as he was known for his spellbinding play-making abilities, made those rings disappear. Despite a lucrative post-retirement career as a municipal bonds broker, he lost it all. He pawned his Super Bowl bling for drug money when his life spiraled out of control and he became a crack cocaine addict. He spent time in prison.

Briscoe, 63, claims he has been sober since 1990. He's the assistant director for the Boys & Girls Club in Long Beach, Calif. A film about his life is in the pre-production stages, and he hopes his recent honors will spur the movie forward.

"Hopefully, I can be a source of inspiration," Briscoe said. "I'm glad God chose me to be successful in pulling it off so every African-American could look to pursue that position. As a litmus test, I was glad I was able to inspire young black men.

"Before, it was a pipe dream. When I was growing up, black kids didn't even think about it. Now they can aspire to reach that level, and if not that level, any level they want to. It's important when you're the first of anything to be successful, so other people get the opportunity to realize their dreams."

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