Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Updated: December 29, 3:01 PM ET
Marino shattered NFL passing records
By Fred W. Kiger
Special to ESPN.com
Sept. 4, 1994 - Eleven months earlier, Dan Marino's streak of playing in 145 consecutive non-strike games ended when he suffered a torn Achilles' tendon in his right leg. Some wondered if the Miami Dolphins quarterback would recover from the injury.
Marino answered the question in today's season opener. Before 69,613 fans and a sea of sportswriters in Joe Robbie Stadium, No. 13 showed he still was No. 1 with his arm.
Down 21-10 to the New England Patriots early in the third quarter, Marino threw a 26-yard strike to Keith Jackson, his second touchdown pass of the game. This was followed in the same quarter by a 54-yard scoring pass to Irving Fryar. Early in the fourth period, a flea-flicker resulted in a 50-yard touchdown pass, to Fryar again.
Despite Marino's performance, the Dolphins trailed 35-32 with just under 3½ minutes left. Facing fourth-and-five on New England's 35-yard line, most expected the Dolphins to go for the first down. Instead, when the rifle-armed man with the quick read and quicker release found Fryar in single coverage, he decided it was all or nothing.
The result was Marino's fifth touchdown pass and a wild 39-35 Dolphins victory. Marino finished 23-of-42 for 473 yards and one interception.
Yes, Dan Marino was definitely back.
Odds 'n' Ends
As a kid in Pittsburgh, Marino occasionally played catch with Pirates star Willie Stargell, who lived next door to Marino's grandmother.
Marino's father had only one rule for his son when playing catch: He could not bring his arm behind his shoulder to throw. Dan Sr. wanted him to make use of his wrist to snap passes away.
A starter midway his freshman season at Pitt, his first pass was an
interception, his second a near interception, his third a touchdown.
Marino's college nickname was Mr. Cool.
As a junior, Marino set a Pitt record by throwing six touchdown passes in a 42-28 victory over South Carolina.
That season, when his 37 touchdown passes led the nation, Marino finished fourth in the Heisman balloting behind winner Marcus Allen, Herschel Walker and Jim McMahon.
Marino graduated from Pitt with a 3.0 grade point average.
Marino was the first overall pick in the USFL draft, chosen by the Los Angeles Express on Jan. 4, 1983.
His hometown Pittsburgh Steelers passed over Marino in the NFL draft, selecting defensive lineman Gabe Rivera.
Marino signed with Miami for an estimated $2 million over four years.
When Marino signed a contract with Brooks shoes, he added a clause in the contract that for every touchdown pass or score three pairs of shoes would be sent to children of unemployed steelworkers. He also made sure shoes were sent to the grounds crew at Pitt Stadium.
In his first start with Miami, Marino was 19-of-29 with three touchdowns in a 38-35 loss to Buffalo. His 322 passing yards were the fifth most in Dolphins' history.
In four starts after replacing David Woodley, the Dolphins went 3-1 and Marino completed 62 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns against three interceptions.
Marino became the first rookie to lead the AFC in passing with 2,210
yards. He threw 20 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in 296 attempts.
In his first game against his beloved Steelers in Pittsburgh (Oct. 7, 1984), Marino went 16-of-24 for 226 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-7 Miami rout. It was the worst loss for Pittsburgh in the 14-year history at Three Rivers Stadium.
In 1984, Marino needed just half a season to break Bob Griese's Dolphins' season record of 22 touchdowns.
Marino broke Griese's club season passing yardage mark of 2,473 yards late in the first quarter of a 38-7 pounding of Buffalo. He had seven games left in the regular season to pad the record.
During his unbelievable 1984 season, Marino and the Dolphins shattered 19 individual and team NFL records.
Though the Dolphins lost Super Bowl XIX 38-16 to the 49ers, Marino set Super Bowl records of 29 completions and 50 attempts.
In the summer of 1985, Marino held out for 37 days because he said Dolphins owner Joe Robbie had promised him a new contract the previous January.
Returning - without a new contract - seven days before the opener, a rusty Marino and Miami lost to the Houston Oilers 26-23.
Marino is the only quarterback to pass for 98 touchdowns in his first
three NFL seasons.
A tip of the hat to Marino's offensive line: Between Sept. 25, 1988 and
Oct. 29, 1989, Marino threw 759 passes without being sacked.
In his 114th game, Marino became the 11th NFL player to reach 30,000 passing yards; he was the quickest to reach the mark.
After retiring, Marino accepted an offer to join HBO's "Inside the NFL."
Marino played himself in the popular 1994 movie "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective."
He appeared in a music video by Hootie and the Blowfish for song, "Only Wanna Be With You."
In 1998, Marino teamed with Dan Pohl to win the championship at the ATT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Marino married his wife Claire in 1985. They have five children: sons Daniel Charles, Michael Joseph and Joseph Donald, and daughters Alexandra Claire and Niki Lin.
In 2005, Marino's record of 13 seasons of 3,000 yards passing was broken by Green Bay's Brett Favre. A year later, Favre beat Marino's mark of 4,967 completions.