Roman Gabriel Still Leads Rams in TD Passes

Star quarterback was the league's MVP and made four Pro Bowls
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2024 5:05 PM CDT
Roman Gabriel Still Leads Rams in TD Passes
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Roman Gabriel poses in 1975 photo.   (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, File)

Roman Gabriel, a star quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, died Saturday. He was 83 and died at home of natural causes, his son announced in a post on X. The team issued a statement mourning the "Rams legend and football pioneer," CBS Sports reports. Gabriel was named to the Pro Bowl in 1967, '68, and '69 and was the NFL's most valuable player in 1969. He played 11 seasons for the Rams and remains the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown passes, with 154.

Gabriel twice was player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference while playing for North Carolina State, per the AP, becoming the first ACC quarterback to pass for 1,000 yards in a season. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the AFL draft and the second overall pick in the NFL draft in 1962, then chose the NFL and the Rams. By the end of the decade, Bryan DeArdo writes for CBS, Gabriel had become one of the league's best quarterbacks. He played his last five seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles, winning comeback player of the year honors in 1973 and making one more Pro Bowl. He totaled 29,444 passing yards and 201 touchdowns in his career.

After retiring in 1977, Gabriel took acting roles, coached, worked in broadcasting, and ran a sports marketing company; as an actor, he played John Wayne's son in The Undefeated, per the New York Times. He also raised money for charities. Although he hasn't been voted into the NFL Hall of Fame, his statistics compare well with several quarterbacks who have; Gabriel's passing yards and touchdowns surpass those of Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, and Bob Griese. Gabriel won division titles but not a championship. "He was as good as the very best at the time," said Dick Vermeil, a Hall of Fame coach. (More obituary stories.)

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