The NFL is filled with good quarterbacks. They’re a dime-a-dozen. There have been hundreds of young players in the league with a decent arm, slinging short passes behind a brilliant offensive line.
Then there are great quarterbacks, players defined by their wins, championship rings, and personal records. Names like Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning come to mind. Each of these gunslingers has at least one Super Bowl win in common. It’s a rite of passage for players at the top of their game.
There’s one top-tier quarterback that doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring, however. When talking about the best of the best, you can’t forget about Dan Marino. He was an amazing quarterback with a banner career. Unfortunately, that career ended on a sour note.
Dan Marino’s dominant NFL career
Let’s forget about the end of Marino’s career for one minute, or the fact that he never won a Super Bowl. The rest of his 17 years in the league were absolutely brilliant.
Marino was drafted in 1983 by the Miami Dolphins after a rock-solid college career with the Pittsburgh Panthers. Unlike many of the names on the list of greatest quarterbacks, Marino was not a top pick in the ’83 draft. He was 27th overall and was selected after a slew of much more obscure college players.
For example, he was named to the Pro Bowl in his first season, almost unheard of for a rookie. He was named the league MVP in his second season and took the Dolphins all the way to the Super Bowl that year, where they lost to the 49ers.
Throughout the rest of his career, Marino broke record after record. Among the most notable milestones, he achieved was passing for more than 4,000 yards in four separate seasons, which was an NFL first, as well as completing three consecutive seasons with 30 or more touchdowns.
Marino is considered one of the game’s most prolific passers. By the end of his career, he’d amassed more than 61,000 passing yards, 420 touchdowns, and he’d led the Dolphins to 10 playoff appearances. The only thing missing from his trophy case was that Super Bowl ring.
Dan Marino: In like a lion, out like a lamb
Sadly, it was not the veteran quarterback’s finest performance though. In fact, it was one of the worst playoff games ever played, and definitely Marino’s weakest effort.
The Miami Dolphins lost 62-7. That huge deficit came as the result of a horrible first half plagued by poor defense and numerous turnovers.
Marino had two interceptions, a fumble, and was sacked hard. He never managed to get his feet under him after that. The Jags walked all over the Marino, holding him to just 95 passing yards, a dismal number for a man that set so many passing records.
It wasn’t entirely Marino’s fault, however. Miami’s defense, which had struggled all year, not to mention Jimmy Johnson’s exhausting coaching style, had a major effect on the game. The team was tired and Marino lacked proper pass protection. As a result, the Jacksonville game would be his last.
Life after football
Dan Marino left the league after the 1999 season having set just about every conceivable passing record imaginable, but he never got that coveted ring. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad; his place in the Hall of Fame was assured, and he was inducted in 2005.
Marino has kept busy during his retirement and is never very far from the football field. From 2002 until 2013, Marino served as a commentator on CBS’s The NFL Today.
After leaving his sportscasting job, the Dolphins retained Marino as a special consultant until his official retirement in 2017. But the big question remains: is he still bothered by his loss to Jacksonville? Given Marino’s sense of humor and poise off the field, it’s safe to say that time heals all wounds.