As we near the top of our countdown of top personalities in the history of the NFL we only have the biggest names left. Today we look at one of the best quarterbacks ever to play in the league. The number thirteen entry on our list is Dan Marino.
Marino played his college football at the University of Pittsburgh. As a native of Pittsburgh, he was an incredibly popular figure with the fans of the Panthers. Marino was a standout over his first three seasons at Pitt, only losing three games over that span. After spending those seasons as a perennial contender for the National Championship, Marino saw a significant dropoff in production for his senior season.
As a member of the 1983 draft class, Marino had an interesting decision to make. He was the first-ever draft pick for the newly formed USFL giving him an opportunity to be one of the faces of the upstart league. However, he was also drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the 27th pick in the NFL Draft. Despite his fine college career, he was actually the sixth quarterback taken in that draft that season. Marino’s drop off in his senior season had scared off many NFL teams. While some attributed it to a coaching change at Pitt, others believed that Marino has developed a drug problem and did not want to take a risk on him.
In Miami, Marino was paired with legendary Head Coach Don Shula. Marino was awarded the starting quarterback position by the sixth game of that season and never looked back. After leading the Dolphins to the playoffs his rookie year it seemed the risk the team took on Marino was about to pay off. The 1984 season saw Marino take on a second job, as he took to rewriting the NFL record book. That year Marino set single-season records in several categories including passing yards and touchdown passes. In the 1984 AFC Championship Game, he threw for 421 yards and 4 touchdowns. Those numbers are still the records for an AFC title game. Unfortunately for Marino in the Super Bowl, he matched up against another legendary quarterback in Joe Montana. The Dolphins’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers would mark the only time in Marino’s storied career he would appear in the NFL’s biggest game. Despite losing the Super Bowl, Marino’s fine 1984 season netted him the NFL Most Valuable Player Award for that season.
Although Marino never took home a championship during his storied career with the Dolphins, his production was hardly pedestrian. Marino became the gold standard for consistency and productivity at the quarterback position. When he retired in 1999 he held nearly every major passing record there is. His 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns served as a benchmark for the next generation of quarterbacks to strive for. While many of Marino’s records have since been eclipsed, he still holds many career records for Monday Night Football. His twenty wins on Monday nights is still an NFL record. His 9,654 yards and 74 touchdowns remain the record for the showcase game of the week.
Marino’s legacy is one of the most impressive in NFL history. in addition to his 1984 MVP Award, he was named to nine Pro Bowls over his career. Marino returned from a career-threatening leg injury to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1994. In 1998 Marino was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. His number 13 has been retired by both the Pitt Panthers and Miami Dolphins. Marino received the ultimate football honor by being inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility.
Off the field, Marino’s well-spoken nature made him a natural for branching out into other areas. Marino was a spokesman for a variety of companies. He was well known for his Isotoner advertisements over the course of his career. He has also made several cameo appearances in feature films appearing alongside talent like Jim Carrey in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and Adam Sandler in “Little Nicky.” Marino has also contributed to gamedays as a network analyst, sharing his knowledge of the game with a whole new generation of fans.