RIP Frank Tripucka, 1927-2013

Ring of Famer Frank Tripucka, the Broncos' first-ever quarterback and the first player to have his number retired by the team, died on Thursday. He was 85.

A first-round pick by the Eagles in 1949 out of Notre Dame, Tripucka spent eight seasons in the NFL and AFL, and another seven in the CFL.

As Denver's first QB, the Bloomfield, NJ native became the first U.S. pro passer to top 3,000 yards, and in that inaugural 1960 season, he led the AFL in completions, attempts, yards, and interceptions.

Tripucka was inducted to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1986.

His #18 jersey was retired in 1963, but Tripucka graciously allowed Peyton Manning to take that familiar number upon his signing in 2012.

The team issued a statement Thursday following news of Tripucka's passing:

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.

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Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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