Dan Marino is my favourite NFL player, without comparison. He is the reason I initially started supporting the Dolphins, he wore my favourite number and despite never winning the big game, he is seen as one of the greatest to ever do it. The man resides in Canton for a reason, and although his career was legendary, he was absolutely a man playing in the wrong era.
Daniel Constantine Marino Jr. was drafted by the Dolphins in 1983 and over the next 17 years would put together his Hall of Fame career. In his Rookie year he won Rookie of the Year and the following year he was the league MVP, breaking the record for passing yards in a season and Touchdowns at 5084 yards and 48 Touchdowns. When his career ended, he owned 40, that’s right 40 single season and career NFL records, and yet still to this day, many fans wonder…
Did Dan Marino play in the wrong era?
Mr Pass Happy
Firstly, we have to start this with maybe his craziest record, Dan Marino once went 19 games without being sacked. You read that correctly, Marino was not sacked for 19 consecutive games. Those 19 games without a sack sound like a significant amount, and they are, but more significant is the fact that during this record setting run, Marino threw 759 times. This record is almost unbelievable and it helps to demonstrate just how good a football player he was.
Upon his retirement, Marino held 40 records in the NFL, and naturally as the league became more pass friendly, some of those records fell. He does however still own 12 of those records, which to say that he retired 21 years ago, shows just how hard they are to break. With those records falling, it brings forth the question of how these records are being broken, and back to the subject of our article, why was Dan Marino playing in the wrong era.
A Passing League
One of the leagues worst kept secrets, is just how much of a transition the league continues to make towards being a passing league. We hear commentators say it all the time and for the most part we ignore it, however the NFL is most definitely a pass first league. Granted this does make the league somewhat fairly and rules become more enforceable, however it does make life easier for the pass catchers and the Quarterbacks lucky enough to throw to them.
Dan Marino was not afforded this luxury.
For pretty much his entire career, and the careers of many others at the time, the National Football League felt almost lawless. Taking a few of the Hall of Famers playing during Marino’s career as an example, Joe Montana and Jim Kelly never broke 4000 yards and John Elway did it once, and yet only managed 4030. Dan Marino did it 6 times, including that record breaking season. So imagine for a moment, during a time when defenders were basically allowed free reign over the turf, a Quarterback regularly dominating teams through the air.
Ahead of his Time
Fast forward to 2020, the season is in the books, and 12 players broke 4000 yards, none managed to top Marino, however it still helps to demonstrate just how different today’s league is. Of the leagues starters, 18 threw for over 3500 yards, which back in Marino’s day would sometimes see you finishing 2nd overall in passing yards. Dan Marino and his style of Quarterbacking would have thrived in today’s NFL.
Marino had an impossibly quick release which made defender’s heads spin back in his time under centre, that would be no different in the NFL today. The current record for passing yards in a season is owned by Peyton Manning at 5477 yards. Without a second thought, I guarantee that if Marino was playing to his 1984 form in today’s NFL he would own that record.
Marino never managed to win the big one, despite being named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team, recognised as one of the 10 greatest Quarterbacks of all time. He was the only Quarterback of the 10 to have never won a Superbowl, which only adds to his continued legacy. He ended his career with 40 records, and if he was still playing today I believe he would still be breaking more.
Dan Marino is the greatest Quarterback to never win a Superbowl and he was a man playing in the wrong era.
Check out more from Undrafted here.