Former Steelers QB Earl Morrall Dies At 79
Quarterback Earl Morrall, who won three Super Bowls over the course of 21 NFL seasons, died Friday morning at the age of 79, according to the Naples News Daily.
While many will remember Morrall for the years that he played for the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins, he was also a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers early on in his career.
After being drafted by San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Morrall was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Steelers in September of 1957 in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first round draft picks.
In his first season with the Steelers, Morrall was 139-of-289 passing for 1,900 yards with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and the team went 6-5 in the 11 games that he started. After an 0-2 start in 1958, Morrall was then traded to the Detroit Lions along with a 1959 second round draft pick and a 1960 fourth round draft pick in exchange for quarterback Bobby Layne.
In Detroit, Morrall spent much of his time as a backup to Jim Ninowski, but he would eventually start 26 games over the course of seven seasons. After injuring his shoulder in 1964, the Lions traded Morrall to the New York Giants in 1965.
After three seasons in New York, Morrall was traded to Baltimore in 1968 where he became the starter after Johnny Unitas was injured during the final exhibition game. He led the Colts to a 13-1 record that season and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. He was the losing quarterback in Super Bowl III that year, however, as the Colts were upset by the New York Jets and their quarterback Joe Namath.
After being claimed off waivers in 1972 by the Dolphins, Morrall was reunited with head coach Don Shula, who was previously the Colts head coach from 1963–1969. He would go on to start several games during the Dolphins 1972 undefeated season and wound up winning the AFC Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year awards. The Dolphins won the Super Bowl that year and Morrall ended the season as the backup to Bob Griese after struggling against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game.
Morrall went on to win one more Super Bowl with the Dolphins as a backup to Griese and ultimately retired in May of 1977.
During his brief time in Pittsburgh, Morrall wore No. 10.