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Inaugural QB for Denver Broncos dies at 85

Published September 12, 2013 1:21 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Englewood, Colo. • Frank Tripucka, who quarterbacked the Denver Broncos in their inaugural season and later wanted his No. 18 unretired so Peyton Manning could wear it, died Thursday. He was 85.

The Broncos said Tripucka died in Woodland Park, N.J. He had Alzheimer's disease.

A former standout at Notre Dame, Tripucka played for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Texans. He was brought in as a coach before the 1960 season, but it became obvious he was Denver's best option at QB. Tripucka threw for 3,038 yards and 24 touchdowns that season. He also tossed the first touchdown pass in American Football League history.

His number was one of three retired by the Broncos, but Tripucka gladly gave Manning permission to wear it when he joined the team in 2012.

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