There are many fans of the Denver Broncos that are not aware of the diversity and equality the club has displayed over its history, so, in light of Black History Month -- celebrated in February in the United States of America and Canada -- we've put together a short overview of the subject.
A former Denver Bronco, Marlin Briscoe was the first African American quarterback to start in a modern football game. The year was 1968, Briscoe was a 23-year rookie and the Broncos starting quarterback, Steve Tensi, had suffered a broken collarbone a week earlier against the Boston Patriots. Having played well in the final minutes of the last weeks game, Briscoe got the call to start against the Cincinnati Bengals.
He finished the year as the Broncos starter and set a team rookie record with 14 touchdown passes, which still stands to this day. Briscoe went on to become an All Pro wide receiver and won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins.
A year before Briscoe was drafted by the Broncos, the team selected running back Floyd Little with the 6th overall pick. In a time where black running backs were a minority, the Broncos chose to go against the flow and judge Little by his playing ability, not his skin tone.
The move proved to be the right one, as Little went on to become one of the greatest running backs in the history of the Broncos. From 1968 to 1973, he was the leading rusher in professional football. Retiring as the games 7th all time leading rusher (with 6,323 yards and 54 touchdowns), Little was named to the team's Ring of Fame in 1984 and inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 2010.
Since the eras of Briscoe and Little, Denver has remained a franchise that believes players and coaches of all races should be treated equally. Their track record backs it up.
In 1975, two years after Floyd Little retired, the Broncos brought in a former Dallas Cowboy cornerback, Cornell Green, to be a college scout with the team. Green, who is responsible for scouting the Southwest area, has been with the team ever since.
On Monday, the Fritz Pollard Alliance (an organization that promotes diversity and equality of job opportunities in coaching, front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams), named Green the AFC Scout Of The Year.
Last December, the Broncos named running backs coach Eric Studesville the Interim Head Coach for the remaining four games of the season. Although it was only on an interim basis, Studesville was the first African American Head Coach of the Broncos and is still with the team, retaining his running backs coach position.
The Denver Broncos are playing a big role in the National Football Leagues' movement to become more diverse and inclusive in all regards.