- Accounted for 6,505 yards of total offense during his career.
- Set 22 school records during his career at the school.
- Named an all-conference selection three times and one of the inaugural inductees into UNO Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975.
- Coached by Al Caniglia.
- Becomes the first Maverick to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Marlin Briscoe was nicknamed the “The Magician” during his playing days at Omaha University (now UNO) because of his ability to pull off improbable plays that could lead to victories. In 2017, there’s a movie scheduled to be released based on his life by the same name.
Growing up in the projects of South Omaha, Briscoe would play tackle football against older players. Because he was an excellent passer, he was allowed to play and developed a scrambling style: running away from the defense, finding alleys to run the ball himself, or, on the run, passing to wide open receivers. He was given a box of used sports gear by his cousin as a youth. Because of Briscoe’s athletic ability in various sports, it became known as the magic box.
“My nickname came from my days in college,” Briscoe said. “I would tend to escape oncoming defenders and make plays happen. My teammates would say, ‘We need The Magician to make something happen.’ It was a total team effort, and I had some unbelievable teammates throughout my career. It is definitely a style of play at quarterback that has evolved to be successful in college and professionally today.”
One of the classic games during his college career came during a comeback victory over Morningside College (Iowa) at the old Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, where the College World Series used to be played before it was moved to the new stadium, TD Ameritrade Park.
“We came from an improbable deficit and rallied back when a lot of fans left the game early,” Briscoe recalled. “I just kept throwing and throwing and we came back. Later that evening, friends came up saying, ‘Nice game…too bad you guys couldn’t pull it off.’ I told them, ‘What are you talking about? We won the game.’ People were floored that we had come back by so many points so late in the game and won…It’s a game I’ll never forget.”
He enjoyed his finest Omaha season in 1967, throwing for 2,283 yards and a single-season school-record 25 touchdowns while leading the Mavericks to CIC title in 1967. Drafted in the 14th round in 1968 by Denver as a wide receiver, Briscoe eventually found himself playing quarterback his rookie season. He played one season for the Broncos and set a rookie record with 14 touchdown passes.
Considered the first starting black quarterback in the NFL’s Modern Era that season, Briscoe also played for five other professional teams during his nine-year career as a wide receiver, including the Miami Dolphins on two Super Bowl-winning teams. Quarterback Warren Moon once said: “I owe Marlin a great deal, as does every other black quarterback that followed in his footsteps.”
The movie, “The Magician” will chronicle Briscoe’s career and also a post-professional football “comeback from addiction and despair and his amazing personal journey of self-discovery.” In September 2016, a bronze statue of Briscoe was unveiled at his alma mater in honor of his contributions to the community of Omaha. And at the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, 2016, he received a well-deserved spot in the College Football Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been on the ballot for many years,” Briscoe said. “I kind of lost track of it, and then, all of a sudden, I got the call. I was elated when I got the news. (It) made me appreciate even more all the pouring of support that I received from my childhood to my adulthood.”