In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Dan Marino, the NFL’s All-Time leading passer, announces his retirement after playing 17 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. At the time of his retirement, Marino held all the major career passing records, including completions with 4,967, yards with 61,361, and touchdowns 420. The only thing that eluded Dan Marino was a ring, as he played in just one Super Bowl, losing to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.
Dan Marino was born on September 15, 1961, in Pittsburgh. A two-sport star who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the 1979 MLB Draft, Dan Marino played college football at Pittsburgh, which campus was located in the neighborhood where he grew up. He led the Panthers to consecutive top rankings as Sophomore and Junior. In 1982, Dan Marino failed to live up to expectations, as he had a hard time adjusting to new coach Foge Fazio’s system. This would cause his draft stock to plummet.
The 1983 NFL Draft was known as the year of the quarterback, five were taken in the first round before Dan Marino, with John Elway of Stanford going first to the Baltimore Colts and Todd Blackledge of Penn State going seventh to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Buffalo Bills used the 14th overall pick for Jim Kelly from Miami, the New England Patriots took Tony Eason of Illinois one spot later, while the New York Jets selected Ken O’Brien of UC-Davis at 24. Marino’s fall to #27 and the Miami Dolphins also came as rumors of drug use at Pittsburgh swirled.
The Miami Dolphins were already a strong team before Dan Marino arrived, as they had lost Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Redskins. However, quarterback as a glaring weakness as David Woodley and Don Strock split time calling plays for Miami. Falling to the 27th pick would motivate Marino as quickly took over the starting job and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. In 1984, Dan Marino was the NFL’s MVP, leading the Dolphins to Super Bowl XIX, as he shattered single-season records in passing and touchdowns.
The Dolphins would not win Super Bowl XIX, losing to the 49ers. It was assumed that Dan Marino would get them back in short order, but the next decade proved to be one of frustration and heartbreak. In 1985, they lost the AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots. The following four seasons would see the Dolphins miss the playoffs as they had consistently one of the worst defenses in the league. Miami also lacked a consistent run game, but Dan Marino kept them competitive most seasons, as he led the NFL in passing yards four times in five seasons.
As the 1990s began, the Dolphins were locked in a battle with the Buffalo Bills. Four straight seasons, the Bills would go to the Super Bowl, twice beating the Dolphins in the playoffs, including the 1992 AFC Championship Game. In 1993, the Dolphins appeared poised for a great season, when Dan Marino suffered a torn Achilles. When he returned in 1994, he showed that has still among the best quarterbacks in the NFL as he passed for 471 yards with five touchdowns in his first game back. Marino would win Comeback Player of the Year in 1994, but the Dolphins came up short in the postseason again.
The 1995 season would be one of personal achievements, as Dan Marino set career records for yards and touchdowns. However, he was plagued with pain all season as Miami went 9-7 in Don Shula’s final season as coach. Jimmy Johnson would take over for the Dolphins and had an uneasy relationship with the quarterback, who had become the face of the franchise. Johnson winner of two Super Bowls in Dallas and a National Championship with the University of Miami. He had wanted to change the Dolphins into a more balanced offensive attack, and perhaps trade Marino, but the quarterback had become too popular and would have caused fans to rage.
Miami would make the playoffs in each of Dan Marino’s last three seasons but never get past the Divisional Round. The final game for Dan Marino was as ugly as it could get as they suffered a 62-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the second-worst postseason loss in NFL history. In the game, Marino had two picks and a fumble, while passing for only 95 yards. Jimmy Johnson would resign after the game, as Dan Marino became a free agent. Marino briefly flirted with signing with the Minnesota Vikings but eventually decided that he had enough and called a career.