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Football - American
American Football History
National Football League (NFL)

Who was the first black quarterback to start in the NFL and what year?

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2011-08-22 19:06:44
2011-08-22 19:06:44
First black quarterback to start in AFL: Marlin BriscoeFirst black quarterback to start in NFL: James Harris

The first black quarterback to start an AFL professional football game was Marlin Briscoe. Briscoe started a game for the Denver Broncos in the American Football League (AFL). This was a full 2 years before the league merged with the NFL.

James Harris was the first starting black quarterback in the NFL. He started 2 games for the Buffalo Bills in 1971, after the Bills entered the NFL.

Although the leagues merged their records books as part of the merger, to not make a distinction between the leagues in a matter is simply wrong. An analogy would be how Major League Baseball maintains records and refers to such events. Jackie Robinson was the first black player in the Major Leagues with NL Brooklyn Dodgers. However, Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the American League with the Cleveland Indians. Like Robinson and Doby, Briscoe's and Harris's milestones are separate events.

Marlin Briscoe played for the Denver Broncos as a rookie, he started 14 games with 1498 yrds and 14tds. The next season he was converted to wide receiver and was also part of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. He still holds many of the Broncos' rookie records. There is a film in production about his life.

Briscoe's book, the somewhat mis-titled "The First Black Quarterback: Marlin Briscoe's Journey to Break the Color Barrier and Start in the NFL" can be found at Amazon.com although they only have autographed copies listed. You can visit the links at the bottom of this answer to learn more about his life and the texts (books and movies) being developed about him.

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