The late Steve Sabol of NFL Films talks Marlin Briscoe
Before Marlin Briscoe became a starting quarterback in professional football, he had to survive “The Hole,” Omaha South High School’s notoriously rugged practice football field. Briscoe passed that test. He went on to a historic nine-year pro career.
On Wednesday, more than 100 people, including some of Briscoe’s South High teammates from the early 1960s, watched as Briscoe unveiled signs on a street newly named for him.
With the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8 last night in Super Bowl XLVIII, it put the Seahawks in rare company.
First of all, they have won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Secondly, head coach Pete Carroll became the third coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and a National Championship in college football. The only other two coaches to do that are Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer.
Finally, the greatest significance of the win is that Russell Wilson became the second African-American quarterback in the NFL history to win a Super Bowl. The first was Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams back in the eighties.
The old Denver Bronco will be rooting for Seattle today. Marlin Briscoe can’t help it.
“I’m pulling for Russell Wilson,” Briscoe said. “I feel a kinship with his style of play. It’s a verification of how I played the game.”
The man’s life keeps flashing before his eyes these days. Last summer, President Obama called Briscoe a “pioneer.” Now, a movie — “The Magician” — is in the works about his life growing up in south Omaha.
The masterful satirist Richard Pryor, during a skit on his television variety show, in 1977, played a black president holding a press conference. Subdued in tone, clad in a gray suit, Pryor as chief executive tries to field all the questions without losing his composure. He answers the journalists’ queries about tensions in the Middle East, the neutron bomb, and the unemployment rate. Then, about four minutes along, a reporter wearing the beret and fatigue jacket of the Black Panthers and identifying himself as Brother Bell, of Ebony magazine, stands up to say, “I want to know what you gonna do about having more black brothers as quarterbacks in the National Football Honky League. Right on!”
LONG BEACH, Calif. — President Obama, hosting the undefeated 1972 Dolphins at the White House last summer, made his way around the green room before moving out for a public ceremony.
As the president greeted Hall of Famers like Bob Griese and Larry Csonka and the renowned coach Don Shula, and the unintentionally comedic kicker Garo Yepremian and members of the No-Name Defense, he also extended his hand to a lithe former role player and offered him a look of recognition.
“He said, ‘I know you; you’re a trailblazer,’ ” said Marlin Briscoe, the former player, shaking his head at the memory. “It blew me away.”
Marlin Briscoe will check the mailbox every day. Maybe his gift from the White House will land on his Long Beach, Calif., doorstep while he’s completing his morning crossword. Or as he’s watching Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson throw another touchdown. Maybe it will show up on Sept. 10, his 68th birthday. Or later. Briscoe waited a long time for history to find him. Why would his package from the president be any different?
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