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chris heff

Marlin Briscoe, the NFL and the Bills

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https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2020/02/23/first-nfl-black-quarterback-modern-era-marlin-briscoe-deserves-recognition/4845446002/

I remember when Briscoe played QB for the Broncos, he was electrifying, but the idiotic racist believe at the time was that a black man could not play QB in the NFL, not smart enough. As the article says when traded to the Bills he was converted to WR. Of course the Bills had no QB at the time, just dumb. Then the Bills draft James Harris, who started for the Bills for a few games. Harris had a decent career, but I think Briscoe was a better QB and better athlete. 

Edited by chris heff
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Briscoe was indeed electrifying on the field, whether at QB or WR. No doubt there were ridiculous racist viewpoints preventing black players from getting opportunities to play QB in the NFL. But I think what hurt Briscoe the most in that regard was that he was such a superior player at WR. He may have been a good QB, but he was an elite receiver. Especially in the game as it was at that time. 

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Harris was the superior QB of the two. Briscoe was short and his completion percentage, even in those days, was poor. Great WR though.

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25 minutes ago, K-9 said:

Briscoe was indeed electrifying on the field, whether at QB or WR. No doubt there were ridiculous racist viewpoints preventing black players from getting opportunities to play QB in the NFL. But I think what hurt Briscoe the most in that regard was that he was such a superior player at WR. He may have been a good QB, but he was an elite receiver. Especially in the game as it was at that time. 

I believe that’s true as to his time with the Dolphins, they had Bob Griese, but as to his tenure with the Broncos and Bills he was by far the best QB on those rosters. Who was the Bills QB the year Briscoe came to the Bills and was converted to WR? In 1969 Bills QBs were a done Jack Kemp and a never was Tom Flores. For the next couple of years it was Dennis Shaw. 

 

 

Edited by chris heff

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Joe Gilliam was the most prominent early QB as he had the starts for the first 6 games of the first Steelers SB season. 

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22 minutes ago, Spiderweb said:

Harris was the superior QB of the two. Briscoe was short and his completion percentage, even in those days, was poor. Great WR though.

Briscoe only given the opportunity to play QB for part of one season, who knows what might have been. 

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4 hours ago, chris heff said:

I believe that’s true as to his time with the Dolphins, they had Bob Griese, but as to his tenure with the Broncos and Bills he was by far the best QB on those rosters. Who was the Bills QB the year Briscoe came to the Bills and was converted to WR? In 1969 Bills QBs were a done Jack Kemp and a never was Tom Flores. For the next couple of years it was Dennis Shaw. 

 

 

I have to disagree somewhat with this, Chris. Of course ‘the Magician’ was exciting, but with James Harris, Bill Enyart, OJ & new HC John Rauch fresh off an AFL Title and shredding the old roster, his all-rookie backfield definitely proclaimed a new era (pun unintended) for Bills football. James was steady -if overpowering- and enjoyed a long, fine career. In ‘70, San Diego State rookie Dennis Shaw set the ‘new’ NFL club on fire, winning ROY with Marlin routinely making jaw-dropping catches in route to the PB while Haven Moses appeared to be a star in the making. Rauch was gone in early ‘71 and Lou signed on to take over in ‘72. Briscoe wanted out of Denver because of Saban and his continued animosity toward him convinced him to depart for Miami. By now, he was a ‘name’ WR and continued his magic there, helping the Fish to 3 straight SBs. I’m not denying the still overt racism then towards Black QBs, but with Marlin’s wizardry and Harris’ calm, determined leadership and laser arm, the Bills were instrumental in turning that narrative into myth.

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3 hours ago, chris heff said:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2020/02/23/first-nfl-black-quarterback-modern-era-marlin-briscoe-deserves-recognition/4845446002/

I remember when Briscoe played QB for the Broncos, he was electrifying, but the idiotic racist believe at the time was that a black man could not play QB in the NFL, not smart enough. As the article says when traded to the Bills he was converted to WR. Of course the Bills had no QB at the time, just dumb. Then the Bills draft James Harris, who started for the Bills for a few years. Harris had a decent career, but I think Briscoe was a better QB and better athlete. 

 

I was only a little kid when James Harris played.  But I still remember him getting brutalized one game.  One play stands out: it's either 3rd or 4th down, Harris was getting slammed but somehow he still got the ball out for a first down completion.   I decided right then that he was a warrior and I was a fan.  

Edited by hondo in seattle
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Harris was a journeyman QB, not great.  But, he did show a black man could QB in the NFL, so worth remembering for that imho.

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4 hours ago, K-9 said:

Briscoe was indeed electrifying on the field, whether at QB or WR. No doubt there were ridiculous racist viewpoints preventing black players from getting opportunities to play QB in the NFL. But I think what hurt Briscoe the most in that regard was that he was such a superior player at WR. He may have been a good QB, but he was an elite receiver. Especially in the game as it was at that time. 

 

 

...hence, "Marlin The Magician" if I remember correctly...........

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Marlin Briscoe believed Lou Saban was responsible for him losing the QB job in Denver on the basis of his race, and there is evidence. He had success one season at QB in Denver, then when Lou was hired, Marlin was not even invited to the QB meetings at the first training camp, then was traded to Buffalo. Then when Lou shows up in Buffalo in 1972, the first things he does is dump both Marlin (traded to Dolphins) and James Harris. Briscoe responded to the trade by lashing out at Saban. This led to the situation in 1972 when Lou had to rely on sore-armed Dennis Shaw, and then when he was inevitably ineffective, to turn to such titans of the pivot as Mike Taliaferro and Leo Hart at QB. They stunk, but they were the right color for Lou. When the Bills traveled to LA in 1974 to play the Rams, even OJ commented on how shabbily James Harris (who was then starting for the Rams) had been treated. 

 

Saban was a fine coach in many ways, but this is a (pun intended) black mark on his career. That and his psychotic Wanderlust.

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5 hours ago, Chandler#81 said:

I have to disagree somewhat with this, Chris. Of course ‘the Magician’ was exciting, but with James Harris, Bill Enyart, OJ & new HC John Rauch fresh off an AFL Title and shredding the old roster, his all-rookie backfield definitely proclaimed a new era (pun unintended) for Bills football. James was steady -if overpowering- and enjoyed a long, fine career. In ‘70, San Diego State rookie Dennis Shaw set the ‘new’ NFL club on fire, winning ROY with Marlin routinely making jaw-dropping catches in route to the PB while Haven Moses appeared to be a star in the making. Rauch was gone in early ‘71 and Lou signed on to take over in ‘72. Briscoe wanted out of Denver because of Saban and his continued animosity toward him convinced him to depart for Miami. By now, he was a ‘name’ WR and continued his magic there, helping the Fish to 3 straight SBs. I’m not denying the still overt racism then towards Black QBs, but with Marlin’s wizardry and Harris’ calm, determined leadership and laser arm, the Bills were instrumental in turning that narrative into myth.

I don’t disagree with any of that, but I just remember Briscoe being fun to watch and winning games for the Broncos as QB. I also remember how much the Bills sucked at QB during his tenure as WR with Bills.

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8 hours ago, chris heff said:

Briscoe only given the opportunity to play QB for part of one season, who knows what might have been. 

I was there for those games. It wasn't just the race stigma, it was the mobile QB stigma. If they would have built the offense around Briscoe's talents, he would have been Lamarr but it just never occurred to them. An amazing talent before his time. Even then, a great receiver and fun to watch. Harris had it all, size, big arm, I don't remember him being all that mobile. He wasn't an EJ. 

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9 minutes ago, Green Lightning said:

I was there for those games. It wasn't just the race stigma, it was the mobile QB stigma. If they would have built the offense around Briscoe's talents, he would have been Lamarr but it just never occurred to them. An amazing talent before his time. Even then, a great receiver and fun to watch. Harris had it all, size, big arm, I don't remember him being all that mobile. He wasn't an EJ. 

 

Harris was a big man, 6'4" and 200... prototypical QB size, which is why he, unlike many other black QBs (such as Marlin B or even Tony Dungy), was able to resist being turned into a WR or DB. Out of Grambling, he was groomed for the NFL, but was a bit too soon. Doug Williams was his clearest heir at Grambling and in the NFL.

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49 minutes ago, RJ (not THAT RJ) said:

 

Harris was a big man, 6'4" and 200... prototypical QB size, which is why he, unlike many other black QBs (such as Marlin B or even Tony Dungy), was able to resist being turned into a WR or DB. Out of Grambling, he was groomed for the NFL, but was a bit too soon. Doug Williams was his clearest heir at Grambling and in the NFL.

He also had a big arm. I remember some of the receivers sometimes dodging and not catching some of his lasers. He developed into a solid QB. I was young and remembered he looked imposing for a QB, unlike a Griese or Tarkington. Tackle at your own risk, I was used to a John Hadl or Joe Kapp. 

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1 hour ago, RJ (not THAT RJ) said:

 

Harris was a big man, 6'4" and 200... prototypical QB size, which is why he, unlike many other black QBs (such as Marlin B or even Tony Dungy), was able to resist being turned into a WR or DB. Out of Grambling, he was groomed for the NFL, but was a bit too soon. Doug Williams was his clearest heir at Grambling and in the NFL.

 

If you draft a black QB to replace your black QB, can it really be racist? Or is it really just picking the position where the player is most likely to help the team? Marlin the Magician was a better WR than he was a QB. Keep it simple is my motto. Their is nothing to support racism here (not that it did NOT exist then or now). 

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I saw both Marlin and James play in War Memorial Stadium. Marlin was exciting, James had a powerful arm. The book Third and a Mile by William Rhoden was about the struggles of the first black quarterbacks in the NFL. It has been awhile since I read it, but I recall that when James Harris came to Buffalo as a rookie, it was not easy time. I'll look for the book.

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11 hours ago, Chandler#81 said:

I have to disagree somewhat with this, Chris. Of course ‘the Magician’ was exciting, but with James Harris, Bill Enyart, OJ & new HC John Rauch fresh off an AFL Title and shredding the old roster, his all-rookie backfield definitely proclaimed a new era (pun unintended) for Bills football. James was steady -if overpowering- and enjoyed a long, fine career. In ‘70, San Diego State rookie Dennis Shaw set the ‘new’ NFL club on fire, winning ROY with Marlin routinely making jaw-dropping catches in route to the PB while Haven Moses appeared to be a star in the making. Rauch was gone in early ‘71 and Lou signed on to take over in ‘72. Briscoe wanted out of Denver because of Saban and his continued animosity toward him convinced him to depart for Miami. By now, he was a ‘name’ WR and continued his magic there, helping the Fish to 3 straight SBs. I’m not denying the still overt racism then towards Black QBs, but with Marlin’s wizardry and Harris’ calm, determined leadership and laser arm, the Bills were instrumental in turning that narrative into myth.

There are some things that are scientific fact.  As time goes on and we move further and further away from a time period when a certain group of people were bread like horses and were commonly kept from growing a higher level of learning that reality is vanishing and it is a very good thing to see.  I believe we have reached an even playing field in most places.

 

A lot of people may not like it but it was the truth and was a result of what was done during slavery and segregation and for a time period thereafter.

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46 minutes ago, formerlyofCtown said:

There are some things that are scientific fact.  As time goes on and we move further and further away from a time period when a certain group of people were bread like horses and were commonly kept from growing a higher level of learning that reality is vanishing and it is a very good thing to see.  I believe we have reached an even playing field in most places.

 

A lot of people may not like it but it was the truth and was a result of what was done during slavery and segregation and for a time period thereafter.

 

That ended poorly for Jimmy the Greek. 

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