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Roman Gabriel dies at the age of 83. The first Filipino-American quarterback in the NFL was MVP in 1969 – Winnipeg Free Press

Roman Gabriel had great size and a big arm when he was the No. 2 draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1962. Even while playing in an era where he played on the ground, he still holds the Rams’ team record with 154,000 touchdown passes.

Gabriel, the first Filipino-American quarterback in the NFL and the league’s MVP in 1969, died Saturday. He was 83.

His son, Roman Gabriel III, announced his father’s death on social media, saying he died at home of natural causes.

North Carolina State quarterback Roman Gabriel sits in the hands of a UCLA player as another player drives in from the left while being stopped after an end sweep during an NCAA college football game on Oct. 29, 1960, in Los Angeles.  Gabriel, the former North Carolina State quarterback who was the 1969 NFL MVP with the Los Angeles Rams, died Saturday, April 20, 2024. He was 83. (AP Photo/Harold P. Matosian)

North Carolina State quarterback Roman Gabriel sits in the hands of a UCLA player as another player drives in from the left while being stopped after an end sweep during an NCAA college football game on Oct. 29, 1960, in Los Angeles. Gabriel, the former North Carolina State quarterback who was the 1969 NFL MVP with the Los Angeles Rams, died Saturday, April 20, 2024. He was 83. (AP Photo/Harold P. Matosian)

In 2021, the eldest Gabriel told the Los Angeles Times: “I’m retired due to heart problems and arthritis, but happy.” He said he split time between Wilmington, North Carolina and Little River, South Carolina.

“We mourn the loss of Rams legend and football pioneer Roman Gabriel,” the Rams said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Gabriel, who played at North Carolina State and was a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

He was 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, big for a quarterback at the time. Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi once described him as “a big telephone pole,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Gabriel played 11 years for the Rams and five years for the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was traded after the Rams acquired John Hadl.

“Gabe was a great player and an even better mentor. Words cannot explain my gratitude for what a great teammate he was,” retired quarterback Ron Jaworski, who backed up Gabriel in his final season with the Eagles, posted on X. “A special player and a better man!”

Gabriel was such a popular prospect that the Rams made him the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, and the rival AFL’s Oakland Raiders selected him No. 1 overall. Gabriel eventually signed with the Rams, although it wasn’t until George Allen was chosen. was hired as a coach in 1966 so Gabriel began to make his mark.

From 1967 to 1970, Gabriel led the Rams to a 41-14-4 record and two division titles, but never a playoff game. He was voted MVP in 1969 after throwing for 2,549 yards with 24 touchdown passes and five rushing scores.

Allen left for Washington after the 1970s and Gabriel was shipped to the Eagles in 1973. He was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and led the league with 23 touchdown passes and 3,219 yards as he tried to revitalize the Eagles’ offense.

FILE- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Roman Gabriel poses in this August 1975 photo in Philadelphia.  Gabriel, the former North Carolina State quarterback who was the 1969 NFL MVP with the Los Angeles Rams, died Saturday, April 20, 2024. He was 83. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, File)

FILE- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Roman Gabriel poses in this August 1975 photo in Philadelphia. Gabriel, the former North Carolina State quarterback who was the 1969 NFL MVP with the Los Angeles Rams, died Saturday, April 20, 2024. He was 83. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, File)