The original No. 18 for the Denver Broncos has died. Ring of Fame member and former Broncos quarterback, Frank Tripucka, passed away Thursday morning due to congenital heart failure. He was 85 years old.
Tripucka closed out his 15-year NFL career with the Broncos in 1963. The team even retired his jersey, but Tripucka said that he would allow Peyton Manning to wear No. 18 if the Broncos signed him.
The Broncos released a statement today:
Frank Tripucka was an original Denver Bronco and Ring of Famer who was the first to quarterback the team. 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.
Frank will always hold a very special place in Broncos history for what he meant to this organization and community.
We are all deeply saddened by his passing this morning. Our hearts and prayers go out to Frank’s wife, Randy, his seven children and the rest of the Tripucka family.
Tripucka was the starting quarterback for the University of Notre Dame. Originally from Bloomfield, N.J., Tripucka was a three-time letter winner for the Fighting Irish.
He was selected in the first round of the 1949 draft (9th overall) by the Eagles. He played for the Eagles and Lions in 1949. Then he played for the Chicago Cardinals from 1950-1952, and the Dallas Texans in 1952. He was a Denver Bronco from 1960-1963. His best year as a Bronco came in 1960 when he threw for 3,038 yards and 24 touchdowns. He completed the first touchdown pass in AFL history.
Our condolences go out to the Tripucka family.
Funeral arrangements are pending.