Keeler: Teddy Bridgewater is right QB to “resurrect” the Broncos, Marlin Briscoe says. And it’s got nothing to do with Teddy’s arm.
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Marlin Briscoe turns 76 on Friday. Like a lot of us, the last four Broncos seasons haven’t exactly made him feel any younger.

“(Feeling) up and down, health-wise,” the trail-blazing former Broncos quarterback told me earlier this week. Then he laughed. “I hope the Denver Broncos resurrect themselves.”

He’s hoping Teddy Bridgewater can resurrect his career, too, starting with that season-opening rhumba with the New York Giants on Sunday. And that the portions of Broncos Country that still refuse to accept that Bridgewater beat out Drew Lock for the starting job will come around to reality. Or sanity. Eventually.

“Fans are going to be pro- fans or anti- fans, regardless, at some point and time,” said Briscoe, the first Black starting quarterback in team history, a man whose rookie record for Broncos passing touchdowns in a season (14, 1968) still stands proud.

“(Bridgewater) has enough experience — it’s not like he’s just being thrown to the wolves. He’s had experience with fan (feedback), all that stuff. It’s not like he hasn’t or won’t experience (different) reactions. He can handle it. Denver fans are rabid, now. He’s lucky he doesn’t have to play in the old (Mile High) with the south stands.”

With that, Briscoe laughed again. He’s been there. A 14th round draft pick out of the University of Omaha, the 5-foot-11 Briscoe — nicknamed “The Magician” for the tricks he pulled with his right arm and his legs — became the first Black starting quarterback of the Super Bowl era.

As such, he had to play well enough to win over the masses. Fans. Teammates. Coaches. Front offices. Briscoe had to scrap for his chance, lighting a path for successors such as James Harris, Doug Williams, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham — icons through the generations to come.

“I believe that if I had failed,” Briscoe said, “then James Harris wouldn’t have gotten drafted that very next year (1969) as a quarterback. And I take pride in that, for sure.”

Bridgewater is slated to become the first Black quarterback to start a Week 1 game for the Broncos. The big deal, Briscoe said, is that five decades after his historic start on Oct. 6, 1968, it’s no longer that big of a deal.

“With the plethora of Black quarterbacks we have in the league, it’s not as profound,” Briscoe said. “When I was playing, it was as a ‘Black quarterback.’ Now it’s just a ‘quarterback.’

“He’s the field general, so it really doesn’t matter at this juncture. When you look around the league and you look in college and look in high schools, the kids that are playing quarterback, they just happen to be (different races).”

To that end, the Broncos last month named the franchise’s diversity coaching fellowship in honor of Briscoe, who left Denver after the 1968 season and played the next eight years as a wide receiver with Buffalo, Miami, Detroit, San Diego and New England.

“That’s really cool,” Briscoe said. “Anytime I can help youngsters or others that show their skills to get a break, I’m for that.”

His favorite part of Bridgewater’s game isn’t the arm. Or the legs that can give Steady Teddy more time to work with in the pocket. Or the field vision that allows him to see what some younger peers don’t.

No, for Briscoe, it’s the stuff between the ears. The calm. The Zen.

“He’s a very interesting kid,” Briscoe said of Bridgewater. “From what I have seen of his play, (he) doesn’t seem to get rattled. He has the temperament (to) block out any negativity that happens to him and go on to the next play. There’s always the next play.

“So it’s good to have that type of mentality, that he’s overcome adversity. And that’s going to bode well for him in tight situations. And there will be tight situations.”

And if, after some of those tight situations, the boos come raining down?

“Block it out,” Briscoe replied. “He’s the quarterback. He’s the one that, if you’re (going) to show poise, and in the line of fire, it’s going to last him through the season.

“No matter what happens, he’s going to have naysayers. He’s got to be like a cool glass of lemonade.”

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