Roman Gabriel, legendary Rams QB and former NFL MVP, dead at 83

Roman Gabriel, chosen as the No. 2 draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1962 due to his imposing size and powerful throwing arm, still holds the team record with 154 touchdown passes despite playing during an era dominated by running plays. Gabriel, the first Filipino-American quarterback in NFL history and the league MVP in 1969, passed away peacefully at the age of 83, as announced by his son, Roman Gabriel III, on social media. In a 2021 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gabriel expressed contentment despite health issues, splitting his time between Wilmington, North Carolina, and Little River, South Carolina.

The Rams paid tribute to Gabriel, recognizing him as a pioneer in football. Gabriel, a standout at North Carolina State and a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989. Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 235 pounds, Gabriel was notably large for a quarterback of his time, drawing comparisons to a “big telephone pole” by Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi.

During his 11-year tenure with the Rams and five-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, Gabriel left a lasting impact both on and off the field. Despite being traded to the Eagles after the Rams acquired John Hadl, Gabriel’s influence extended beyond his playing career, as highlighted by retired quarterback Ron Jaworski, who praised Gabriel’s mentorship. Gabriel’s career trajectory was marked by significant achievements, including being named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1973 after leading the league in touchdown passes and yards, as he endeavored to reignite the Eagles’ offense.

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