Former Denver Broncos quarterback Frank Tripucka died Thursday morning after battling a long illness. He was 85.
Tripucka, who is in the team's Ring of Fame, threw the first touchdown pass in American Football League history on Sept. 9, 1960. His No. 18 jersey was retired by the team, but he allowed Peyton Manning to wear it when he joined the Broncos in 2012.
"Frank Tripucka was an original Denver Bronco and Ring of Famer who was the first to quarterback the team," the team said in a statement. "He laid the foundation for the Broncos' future success as an American Football League All-Star, twice leading the league in passing yards and setting numerous single-game and career records. He is proudly remembered as one of professional football's first great drop-back quarterbacks."
Tripucka was the No. 9 overall draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1949 after he was an All-American quarterback at Notre Dame. However, he never played for the Eagles. After stints with the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Texans, he spent most of the 1950s in the Canadian Football League.
He had success in the AFL in leading the league in passing yards in 1960 and 1962. He retired after the 1963 season.
His survivors include his wife Randy, his son, former NBA All-Star Kelly Tripucka, and his grandson, free-agent long snapper Travis Tripucka.