Marlin Briscoe, the first Black quarterback to start a modern professional football game, died Monday at the age of 76.
His daughter, Angela Marriott, confirmed to the Associated Press that Briscoe died of a California hospital after facing circulation issues in his legs.
Briscoe began his career with the Denver Broncos, where he made history by starting five games in 1968. The team issued a statement calling him "a pioneer who shattered barriers."
Fifty-four years after Briscoe's feat, Russell Wilson will steer Denver's offense under center. The new Broncos quarterback expressed gratitude to Briscoe for paving the way.
"Thanks to 'The Magician' for breaking down doors for me & many others," Wilson wrote on Twitter.
Although he finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, the Broncos didn't welcome back Briscoe as a quarterback the following year. After requesting a trade, he became a Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills and spent his first of three seasons with the Miami Dolphins during their perfect 1972 campaign.
In a Sports Illustrated feature from 2015, Briscoe expressed his feelings about getting pushed to a new position.
"I wasn't bitter," he said. "Bitter people quit. I was disappointed; if I was bitter, I wouldn't have rolled up my sleeves and learned another position. I grew up in the '50s and '60s, when Black people had a tough road no matter what career they pursued. We expected to have to go through closed doors. We knew we wouldn't get a fair shake."