Former Steelers quarterback and NFL coach Ted Marchibroda dies at 84
January 16, 2016 3:19 PM
Stewart Love/The Pittsburgh Pres
Steelers coach Buddy Parker with his quarterbacks. From left, Ted Marchibroda, Buddy Parker, Jack Scarbath and Len Dawson.
Baltimore Ravens head coach Ted Marchibroda on the sidelines at Three Rivers Stadium in 1998.
By Jonathan D. Silver / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ted Marchibroda, a Venango County native who quarterbacked the Steelers for three years in the 1950s and then went on to coach both iterations of the Colts — in Baltimore and Indianapolis — has died, the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay announced today.
Mr. Marchibroda was 84.
He was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the NFL draft in 1953 as a quarterback. He also played for them in 1955 and 1956; the missing year was given to the U.S. Army. Then he joined the Chicago Cardinals for the 1957 season before entering the coaching world.
"What I enjoyed most was playing for Mr. [Art] Rooney. He was one of the finest people I ever met, in the top three," Mr. Marchibroda told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1996.
A product of Franklin, Mr. Marchibroda went to St. Bonaventure and Detroit Mercy, where he was quarterback, according to a story on the Baltimore Ravens' website. In 1961, the story said, Mr. Marchibroda began coaching as an assistant to the Washington Redskins.
He accepted the Baltimore Colts’ head job in 1975 and immediately led them to three consecutive AFC East titles. He lost that job after the 1979 season, but his career was still taking off.
Mr. Marchibroda bounced around the NFL for nearly a decade as an assistant with the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles. In 1987, he was hired by Marv Levy in Buffalo, which is where Mr. Marchibroda introduced the groundbreaking K-Gun offense. The Bills used that version of the no-huddle offense to win four straight AFC championships — and the principles are still used in today’s more modern offenses.
In 1992, the Colts, now in Indianapolis, gave Mr. Marchibroda a second chance and he again had instant success. The Colts went 9-7 in his first season, after going 1-15 in 1991, and in 1995, Mr. Marchibroda nearly pulled off a seemingly impossible run through the playoffs by leading the Colts to wins at San Diego and Kansas City before losing to the Steelers after Jim Harbaugh’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete on the game’s final play.
Mr. Marchibroda went 71-58 in nine seasons with the Colts and 2-4 in the playoffs. He was the first head coach inducted into Indy’s Ring of Honor.
“Ted Marchibroda, a Life-Changer, a Winner & a Champion all the way. Forever Proud to be ur QB,” Mr. Harbaugh posted on his Twitter feed.
In 1996, Mr. Marchibroda returned to Baltimore, this time to lead the Ravens, becoming their first head coach.
There, he was not as successful, going 14-31-1 in three seasons, but he was just as appreciated by those in the locker room and around the organization.
“Ted is a founding father of the Ravens. He was a tremendous competitor and a tough man with a gentle soul,” general manager Ozzie Newsome was quoted as saying on the team’s Twitter feed.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.