Highlighting Rams legends: Roman Gabriel, the barrier breaker

During his 83 years of life, the legendary barrier breaker Roman Gabriel did what he knew to do best. Play the game he loved to the best of his abilities. Having recently passed away, a deeper look by the public was taken into the life of the 1969 NFL MVP and his incredible journey through football.

Gabriel was born in Wilmington, N.C., in 1940. The son of Filipino immigrants, Gabriel would go on to play at in-state program NC State where he’d star for the Wolfpack. A two-time first-team All-American and two-time ACC Player of the Year, Gabriel would have his jersey retired right after his college career ended. His collegiate exploits would lead to his selection by the Rams in the 1962 NFL Draft.

Gabriel was the second overall pick. He was also the first overall pick by the AFL’s Oakland Raiders. Gabriel chose the Rams and it was a perfect choice for both parties. Gabriel played 11 years with the team, earning not only an MVP, but a first-team All-Pro selection, two second-team All-Pro selections, and four Pro Bowl nods.

Upon leaving the Rams, Gabriel signed with the Eagles where he won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in 1973. Gabriel spent five years with the Eagles before retiring after 16 years in the league.

Gabriel would venture into coaching. After a brief stint in non-NFL professional leagues, Gabriel would find further success in football as a broadcaster. Gaining massive success on CBS radio, Gabriel worked as a broadcaster from 1978-2001, finishing his career with Carolina Panthers’ radio.

Gabriel also acted in several projects including the film titled “The Undefeated” which starred John Wayne and Rock Hudson. He was also a guest on several talk shows throughout the 20th century.

Gabriel was married three times and had five children and 10 grandchildren. Gabriel passed away in South Carolina on April 20, 2024.

Roman Gabriel was a man of firsts. The first person of Filipino descent to play in the NFL. The first player in NC State history to have his jersey retired by the program. The first player in Rams history to throw for over 20,000 passing yards and over 120 touchdowns. Gabriel still holds the franchise record for touchdown passes at 154 and is ranked third in career passing yards. He trails leader Jim Everett by only 1,535 yards.

Gabriel was the first Rams QB selected by the team in the first round to play more than four seasons with the franchise. A model of consistency and availability, Gabriel played in 89 straight games during his career, suiting up in 183 games overall.

A true leader on the field, a legendary life off of it. Roman Gabriel, a Rams legend.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire