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Rams legend Roman Gabriel, who won NFL MVP in 1969, dies at 83

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Roman Gabriel, the NFL MVP in 1969, died Saturday at the age of 83.

Gabriel’s son, Roman III, announced his father’s death in a social media post, saying he “passed away peacefully” of natural causes at home.

“We mourn the loss of Rams legend and football pioneer, Roman Gabriel. We extend our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” the Rams said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Gabriel starred at North Carolina State, twice being named the ACC Player of the Year.

After becoming the first ACC quarterback to throw for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, the Rams, in their first stint in Los Angeles, drafted him with the second pick of the NFL Draft. They selected Hall of Fame defensive tackle Merlin Olsen with the very next selection.

Gabriel spent his first 11 seasons with the Rams and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns with 154. His 22,223 yards are third most, behind Jim Everett and Marc Bulger.

Roman Gabriel under center

He made three straight Pro Bowls from 1967 to 1969, but it was the ‘69 season when he separated himself from the league’s other QBs.

He threw an NFL-high 24 touchdowns and led the Rams to an 11-3 season, but they lost in the divisional round to the Minnesota Vikings.

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The Rams traded Gabriel to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1973, and he spent the final five seasons of his career in Philly, backing up Ron Jaworski his final two. 

In his first season with the Birds, he led the NFL with 3,219 passing yards and 23 touchdowns and was named the league’s Comeback Player of the Year by Pro Football Weekly.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

Roman Gabriel against Jets

Gabriel also had acting roles in TV and movies. His list of projects included the 1968 film “Skidoo,” headlined by Jackie Gleason, and the 1969 film “The Undefeated,” starring John Wayne and Rock Hudson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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