According to the officially launched web site, “The Magician” sat in a dark dingy hotel room in a rough part of Los Angeles. Crack pipe in hand. He lights another rock, inhales and his pain subsides. He flashes in and out, sees images of his former self. A life that held promise despite the color of his skin. He is “The Magician“.
He would become an All-Pro wide receiver. He would become a drug addict walking the thin line between life and death. Paying prices to names he didn’t know, people who didn’t care, while at the same time, unknowing at times in those darkened recesses of his mind, paving the way for the Warren Moons’, Doug Williams’, and Donovan McNabbs’.
Entering the NFL in 1968, a draftee of the Denver Broncos, “The Magician” was on the defensive side of the ball, but after a chance opportunity he found himself on offense. At quarterback. The first African-American QB in the NFL. “The Magician” would break almost every rookie QB record for the Broncos that season and to show their gratitude, the team released him at the end of the season with not so much as an explanation or a thank you.
The NFL’s version of Jackie Robinson had broken through football’s color barrier. While his life would end and then be reborn somewhere in those years surrounding that dark hotel, it would be in 1968-69 that Marlin “The Magician” Briscoe would pave the way for what would eventually become today’s NFL.
Marlin Briscoe would not be out of football long, catching on with the Buffalo Bills until fate would once again entwine his past with his present and future. Marlin Briscoe became a Miami Dolphin.
In 1972, the Miami Dolphins completed the only perfect season, Briscoe was 5th on the team in scoring with 4 touchdowns. He would catch 16 passes for over 250 yards in a run-first offense. In 1973, Briscoe would lead all Dolphins in receiving, including future Hall of Fame WR Paul Warfield.
Briscoe would leave the Dolphins following the 74 season where he would end his career in New England in 1976. The first African-American QB in the NFL would leave the game he pioneered with 2 Super Bowls rings as a wide receiver.
Later, in that same hotel room, as his NFL past flickered in and out of his memory, so did the racial injustices, the beatings by a cop at a rally, life as it were. Drug money owed for drugs used. A catacomb of self-indulged hallucinations. A former pioneer who found himself dragged from a hotel room at gunpoint by drug dealers. A man who would eventually find strength and perseverance in himself. Marlin Briscoe is “The Magician”.
Fast forward to 2002. An autobiography titled, The First Black Quarterback: Marlin Briscoe’s Journey to Break the Color Barrier and Start in the NFL, is published. A group in Omaha, Nebraska, the hometown of Marlin Briscoe, forms a film group called, West Omaha Films. Led by David Clark, Terry Hanna, and actor John Beasley, a story would unfold and a mission would begin. A task of turning one man’s life into a film tentatively called, “The Magician“.
Today, we introduce our readers to the man they call “The Magician”. Yet, he is so much more. A pioneer, a recovered addict, a 2-time Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, a mentor, an author, and a life story.
Phinphanatic.com is pleased to bring to you a 3-to-4-part series about Marlin “the Magician” Briscoe. This is only the introduction. A mere tap on the history of the first African American QB. The Jackie Robinson of the NFL.
On Tuesday, you will hear Marlin Briscoe in his own words in the first part of a 3-part exclusive interview. You will hear him talk of his past and his present. What drove him to succeed, fail, recover.
Following the Briscoe interview we will talk with one of the WOF founders, Terry Hanna and find out what made this project so desirable to tell. We will find out how it has progressed, where it is heading, and much more. We will wrap up the film with a look back on his days in the NFL. Historical facts mixed with words from his own experience.
In this series we will introduce you to the life of Marlin Briscoe. We will introduce you to the film about him. We will introduce you to “The Magician“.