Frank Tripucka of the Denver Broncos 1961 (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
KUSA - Former Denver Broncos quarterback Frank Tripucka, who is a member of the team's Ring of Fame, has died after a long illness in New Jersey, the team announced Thursday. He was 85.
Tripucka was the Broncos' first quarterback and played in Denver from 1960-63. He also played for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Texans.
His No. 18 is one of three numbers retired by the Broncos, though he allowed it to come out of retirement for current quarterback Peyton Manning.
The team released a statement that said: "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 currently ranks seventh in Broncos history in passing yards (7,676) completions (662) and touchdown passes (51) as well as fifth in pass attempts (1,277).
In his career, Tripucka threw for 10,282 yards and 69 touchdowns.
His five touchdown passes against the Bills in 1962 stood as the Broncos' team record until Manning's seven TD-performance last week in the season opener.
Tripucka was inducted into the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1986 and was named to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)