Legacy of Black QBs on the Raiders and in the NFL
When the color barrier was broken
The NFL was founded in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until 1968 that a Black quarterback started a game for an NFL team. Marlin Briscoe was drafted in the 14th round by the Denver Broncos after a stellar career at the University of Nebraska Omaha, but they wanted to convert him to cornerback.
He negotiated with the team and after a couple injuries, he got his shot and became the first Black starting QB in October of 1968.
Briscoe only played the position for one year before being traded to Buffalo and was converted to wide receiver. He would go on to have a great career with two Super Bowl rings as a receiver but despite setting Broncos rookie records as a QB he didn’t get a fair shot at the position.
This trend would continue for decades as more and more promising young QBs were denied the chance to play the position at the pro level.
While a ban on Black players in the NFL officially ended in 1946, the quarterback position was among the last to be desegregated. It wasn’t until 2017, when the New York Giants started Geno Smith in place of Eli Manning in his final year with the team, coincidentally against the Raiders, that all 32 active NFL teams had started at least one Black quarterback.
That year, nearly 70% of NFL players, but only 25% of starting quarterbacks, were Black.