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Dan Marino gets ready to join the Hall of Fame

 

By Ethan J. Skolnick

Staff writer

Posted February 5 2005

 

JACKSONVILLE -- There are clubs within the most exclusive clubs, and as those clubs shrink in size, the magnitude of membership grows.

 

Consider all the clubs Dan Marino will officially join today, once the 39-person Board of Selectors declares the former Dolphins quarterback overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

 

More than 1,500 players are on rosters, in a sport providing candidates for nearly a century.

 

Only 193 players have busts in Canton, Ohio.

 

Only 57 of 225 total enshrinees, including coaches and front-office figures, were elected in their first year of eligibility.

 

Only three of those -- Don Shula and Paul Warfield and Jim Langer -- were Dolphins.

 

And as a researcher at CBS Sports informed Marino, when it became known the 43-year-old studio analyst had been predictably placed on 2005's final list of 15 for consideration: "There have been only 26 quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame."

 

"So, that, in itself is pretty darn special," Marino said of being No. 27, which, ironically, is where the Dolphins selected him from Pittsburgh in 1983. "I didn't know that."

 

And, of the 26 Hall of Famers who played the marquee position in all of sports, only 10 were elected in their first year of eligibility. George Blanda, who also kicked. John Elway. Dan Fouts. Bobby Layne. Bart Starr. Roger Staubach. And John Elway, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, and Johnny Unitas, fellow Western Pennysylvanians all.

 

That is the club Dan Marino, the sixth quarterback selected in 1983, joins today.

 

And even in that club, there is another, even more elite one.

 

The most exclusive club is reserved for those who performed the position's fundamental skill -- the pure art of passing the football -- at the highest level for the longest time.

 

That might just be a club of one.

 

"Watching Dan do what he did for almost 20 years, mostly from literally seven yards behind the center, and making all those throws, time after time after time, recognizing in my own career how much I was grateful not to have to make those throws every time, it is really phenomenal," said former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, likely to join Marino in that club of first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks today. "People cannot appreciate the degree of difficulty that Dan took on. People look at it as a lack of mobility, but it was really his ability to make throws."

 

And, of course, as NFL quarterback and current CBS colleague Boomer Esiason said: "The quick release. You drop back and just sling it, just let it go. There was a beauty to it, you know what I mean?"

 

There was even more to admire, in the eyes of a quarterback Marino grew up admiring.

 

"Smooth dude," Bradshaw said. "He had everything a quarterback dreams of. Swagger. The cockiness, or the confidence. The quick release. The curly hair. The size. Played in Miami. His coach idolized him. Chicks dug him. He had it all. He had it all. I mean, I'm jealous of stuff like that. This guy had it all."

 

For all his confidence, Marino has always been reluctant, publicly, to presume himself the greatest, to engage in the debate of where he ranks among quarterback royalty.

 

"There have been so many years in the league, that at any position to say one person is the absolute, the absolute best at it, would be wrong," Marino said. "And it would be doing the league, the position, the players you're not mentioning a disservice. Being in an elite group is enough. Because of all the circumstances, how the game has changed, how do you really say who the best player at a position is? But it's nice to be mentioned."

 

Still, even in the midst of Marino's most earnest attempts at modesty, he cannot deny his defining gift.

 

"Could you always throw it?" he was asked last week.

 

He looked at the ceiling.

 

"Uh, I mean, I, uh, you know what? Yeah."

 

He laughed, leading others to.

 

"I could flat-out throw my whole life."

 

Young saw that for the first time a quarter-century ago, on a recruiting trip at West Point. Army was playing Pitt. Marino was a freshman.

 

"I mean, he was just a year older than me," Young said. "I remember thinking to myself, watching him play and throw the football, that I am kidding myself if I think I'm ever going to play quarterback in college. This was a joke what he was doing as an 18-year-old kid."

 

By the time Marino was a 37-year-old man, he had made a mockery of NFL records.

 

Only now are some starting to fall. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who again Wednesday called Marino "my second-favorite player growing up, other than my father," beat Marino's single-season touchdown mark by one in 2004, aided by league-wide passer-friendly rule enforcement.

 

"And people look at Peyton Manning today and literally sit there with their mouth open, `Wow, it's unbelievable,'" said three-time Pro Bowl receiver Cris Collinsworth, Marino's colleague on HBO's Inside the NFL. "But if you put in perspective what Dan Marino did ... "

 

Marino's 48 touchdowns in 1983 beat Blanda and Y.A Tittle's record by 12.

 

"It was like taking the home run record and hitting 100 the next year," Collinsworth said.

 

Marino still holds the NFL's single-season yardage record with 5,084, though this season, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper finished just one big (367) passing day away.

 

"And he set the bar," Culpepper said. "You want to do it like he did it. His grace, his touch. He was second to none, as far as the way he threw the ball."

 

Marino will remain first in career yardage for a while; his 61,361 are 20 percent more than the retired Elway's next-best total. Brett Favre is 44 behind Marino's record of 420 career touchdown passes, but if Favre retires as rumored, the next active quarterback is 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde, 152 behind. Drew Bledsoe needs 199 to tie. Manning still needs 194.

 

Another Marino record that might be unbreakable:

 

Times mentioned in cautionary tales.

 

Super Bowl champions raise Marino's name to show appreciation for their good fortune. Three-time champion Troy Aikman raised Marino and Fouts on Tuesday, saying "I just can't imagine, knowing how great that feeling is, I can't imagine a player who has played at that level who has not gotten to experience that."

 

Super Bowl participants raise it to remind themselves what's at stake.

 

"Look at Dan Marino," Eagles defensive tackle and Pompano Beach native Corey Simon said. "You look at careers like that, and you cherish this moment because it may not happen again."

 

Only that missing championship discredits Marino's career, in all-time comparisons.

 

"Here's the sad thing about it," Bradshaw said. "People say, `OK, let's stack them all side by side, and everything is even. He won one, he didn't, he ain't as good.' It's not fair. It's not fair. Because it's better defense over here, or better receivers over there, or better offense over there, but if that's what you're into, measuring people, there it is. There it is."

 

So there it was for Marino two decades ago, in Palo Alto, Calif. He was the season's best player, but Montana's 49ers were the best team, winning 38-16.

 

"I wish I won," Marino said. "I wish I won. Over 20 years, that's what you think about. Because I never got that opportunity again, and that's the one feeling I'll never have as a player. ... That's the one thing that a lot of quarterbacks have felt. To walk off the field and say you won a Super Bowl. I've had every other feeling you could possibly have in the league, in the game, and the emotions of it, but that one."

 

He remembered wishing he could play the next day.

 

"There might have been a different result."

 

Today, 20 years later, Dan Marino gets his different result.

 

Today, he cannot lose.

 

Ethan J. Skolnick can be reached at eskolnick@sun-sentinel.com.

 

i love the article. ive been looking forward to this since the day he retired, cant wait for his actual induction.

 

*edit*

 

more love for my boy and Kuechenberg, this time from the herald:

 

Posted on Sat, Feb. 05, 2005

 

 

No sales pitch needed for 13

 

 

JACKSONVILLE -- Hard to believe, but two Hall of Fame quarterbacks who took their teams to three Super Bowls apiece moved on through The Personal Big Six-Oh last week. Fran Tarkenton turned 65 the same day Bob Griese turned 60.

 

Easier to believe, Dan Marino is 43, and if he isn't voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame today, they ought to, well, I wouldn't think of suggesting they burn down that shrine in Canton, O., but maybe at least douse the heat for the rest of the winter.

 

Marino's a lock. Or as close as anyone comes to a lock. No one is a cinch until this morning's third ballot is taken -- from the 15 finalists down to 10, then to six, then individual voting on those six.

 

My job as one of 39 selectors is to ''present'' both Marino and fellow Dolphins candidate Bob Kuechenberg. That is, simply list their qualifications and, insofar as necessary, plead their case.

 

Few Dolphins already ensconced among the handsome busts in Canton have required much pleading. I've presented all eight Dolphins there -- Griese, Paul Warfield, Jim Langer, Admin Csonka, Admin Little, Dwight Stephenson, Nick Buoniconti and coach Don Shula.

 

No feather in my cap. It's just that I've been a selector 30 years, and the most deserving players make the Hall almost without fail.

 

The only Dolphins/Hall of Fame should-be who isn't is Kooch, the 15-year guard whose game served as the admitted model for Famers John Hannah and Joe DeLamielleure.

 

Kooch may not have much of a shot today, because seldom do two players from one team go in. But he'll have three more years of eligibility in the 25-years-from-career's-end window before dropping into the Old Timers category. It would be gravely unjust for him not to make it eventually.

 

MARINO A LOCK

 

Marino needs nothing more than today's window.

 

That's what you get when you pass for more than 34 miles in 17 years.

 

That's what you get when you not only break but plumb crush the George Blanda-Y.A. Tittle co-record of 36 touchdown passes in one season, with his 48 in '84.

 

That record stood until Peyton Manning broke it by one this season. And Manning, not to diss him one little bit, did a lot of it indoors where it's simpler.

 

I haven't met one soul who doesn't think Marino is Hall stuff.

 

TIME TO SELL

 

Some candidates need a sales job. Some don't. Kuechenberg has been a tough sale because his election would mean the entire middle of the 1972 Perfect Dolphins -- Langer, Little, Kuechenberg -- would be in the Hall.

 

No team has swung that.

 

Even Griese needed some selling before he made it in his fifth year of eligibility. He shouldn't have required selling, but he did. Almost as surprisingly, Tarkenton needed three extra years; that is, in addition to the mandatory five-year eligibility wait after career's end.

 

And just in case you're wondering just how difficult it is to make the Hall of Fame, it took Lou Creekmur 32 years, Tommy McDonald 25, George Allen 24, Carl Eller 20, Paul Hornung 15, John Mackey 15, Lynn Swann 14, and Mike Ditka and Jack Youngblood 12 apiece.

 

It took people way too long to catch on that Griese threw more touchdown passes (192) than Sammy Baugh (187), Otto Graham (174), Joe Namath and Norm Van Brocklin (173), Roger Staubach (153), Bart Starr (152), Sid Luckman (137) and Bob Waterfield (97).

 

And Griese's teams, unlike Marino's, relied primarily on the run.

 

If Marino needs a sales job today, I'm in the wrong room.

 

When I ''pitched'' Shula in '97, I had only to say his name.

 

''Dan Marino'' should be enough today. He's the greatest passer football has known. Not necessarily the greatest quarterback, with the footwork and faking and everything that goes with it. Just passer.

 

Marino launched 420 touchdown passes. Next best: Brett Favre, 44 behind, and no one has ever doubted for one season that Favre will be a first-time-eligible Hall of Fame when his turn comes.

 

Marino's turn is today, a great day not just for him but the whole Hall. For all the great ones in there, Danny Boy still will be an magnificent adornment, as a player, family man, philanthropist.

 

 

 

Posted on Sat, Feb. 05, 2005

 

 

Marino's road to fame

 

jcole@herald.com

 

 

PITTSBURGH - This road to immortality is quite short.

 

About three blocks, in fact. That's the distance Parkview Avenue runs from where it intersects Boulevard of the Allies at one end to where it stops at what is now Dan Marino Field in the South Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

 

Along this street was everything Marino needed in a football journey that is likely to take him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame today. Marino is one of 15 finalists who will be considered by the Hall's 39 voters this morning.

 

Barring a shocking upset, Marino will be among a group of four to six people elected. Among the others who could be chosen are several with strong South Florida ties: Michael Irvin, Derrick Thomas, Bob Kuechenberg and George Young.

 

But before Marino, 43, became the awe-inspiring passer South Florida fell in love with 22 years ago on his way to 420 touchdown passes and a slew of other records, he developed his unworldly athletic gifts amid a series of small brick row houses in South Oakland, a working-class section of Pittsburgh.

 

Everything that made him great, from his stunningly quick and unique throwing motion to his nimble feet to his supreme confidence, can be traced to that short stretch of road. Or, as boyhood friend Admin Lamonde said: ``He honed his skills on Parkview Avenue. Playing ball running in the snow, between the hedges and the cars. There was nothing else to do. No Playstation and we only had three [television] channels.

 

``Sports was our lives. There was nothing else.''

 

A CHANGING PLACE

 

South Oakland is changing these days. Students from the University of Pittsburgh and two other local colleges are encroaching, using the homes as rentals.

 

The old-timers are easy to figure out. They're the ones who still diligently shovel snow, cleaning their steps and the sidewalk shortly after it falls. Statues of the Madonna dot many of the front yards and porches. People in South Oakland may not have much, but what they have they treasure.

 

The field at the end of the street was renamed for Marino about 10 years ago. There's a sign on the next street over announcing, ``Welcome to South Oakland, The Childhood Home of Dan Marino & Andy Warhol.''

 

Bring up Marino's name and the faces light with joy.

 

''When Danny got married, we had his bachelor party over at one of the bars right around here,'' said Denny Schack, who lived next door to the Marino family.

 

'His dad came by and said, `Hey, we're just going to get together with a few people over there, come by.' The next thing you know, the place is full. It seemed like hundreds, everybody laughing and having a good time. Everybody loves Danny.''

 

To this day, in fact. The night before the Steelers hosted New England in the AFC Championship game, Marino made an appearance at Atria's restaurant in the city to help lead a toast to the team.

 

Among the other guests were a bunch of local politicians and even former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell, who was part of the four-time champion Steel Curtain defense in the 1970s. For all the Steelers cheers, the biggest commotion came when Marino was introduced.

 

Marino's father, known affectionately around the neighborhood as Big Dan, laid the foundation for his son's success. Be it taking his son down to the field to hit a hundred grounders or coaching him on how to throw a football, Big Dan was a constant.

 

In particular, there was the throwing motion.

 

Marino's motion defies conventional logic, but it makes sense. Most coaches teach kids to extend the arm. John Elway, Marino's classmate in the great quarterback draft of 1983, is the prototype, his long arm motion producing a breathtaking toss.

 

Marino is more like a piston, a minimal motion made with astounding quickness. The ball would be gone before most defenders realized he was throwing. Even his receivers were sometimes caught off guard.

 

As for the feet, that's one of the most forgotten qualities about Marino. While knee injuries eventually ravaged Marino's one-time good speed, he still could move. Where guys like Elway ran into the open spots on the field, Marino could make a defender miss even if they were both in a phone booth.

 

Credit jumping rope on the garage roof.

 

Marino's home stands out from the rest for a couple of reasons. It's painted gray and is the only one with a garage in front. The roof of the garage is an extended porch. It was there that Marino developed the footwork. On many nights, he grabbed a jump rope and thwacked away for an hour.

 

''He was the only kid I ever noticed doing that,'' Schack said. ``He just kept going at it for an hour straight. You could hear the rope in the dark.''

 

THE PASSION

 

As many athletes have proved, skill is nothing without passion. You can't play football unless you love it. There is too much pain and sacrifice, like the night after a victory over Indianapolis in 1995 when Marino finished even though he had been battered.

 

His left hip was engorged with blood from a nasty bruise. He got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but passed out on the floor and had to be rushed to the hospital.

 

Marino never let on when he was in pain. At least not until 1999, when a neck, shoulder and back injury forced him to the sideline during a game at New England. That would end up being Marino's last season.

 

''I remember that to this day,'' former teammate Trace Armstrong said. 'I saw him that morning and said, `How you doin'?' He said, 'I'm hurtin'.' He never said that. I knew it was serious.''

 

Where does that kind of love of the game come from? It's not just about competition, it's about something much deeper.

 

In Marino's case, football became the centerpiece of a glorious life. He started playing in grade school for St. Regis, the Catholic church directly across the street from his house and where he and wife Claire were married.

 

In college, the Marino house was where everyone would come Saturday after games. Mother Veronica would cook up a batch of spaghetti and meatballs and the players, including Pitt greats Jimbo Covert, Ricky Jackson and Hugh Green, would come by the dozens to the three-bedroom, three-story house.

 

To make room, the Marinos and Schacks would open the gate to their small patio backyards and share space.

 

On Parkview Avenue, everybody took care of everybody. If you had 10 friends in the neighborhood, you also had 10 more sets of parents. Marino's godmother still lives on the other side of St. Regis, less than a deep pass away from the old Marino place.

 

And when you are cared for like that, you grow up with confidence and the ability to love back.

 

Asked last week if he could always throw the ball so well, Marino was at first bashful. But then he smiled and said: ``You know what? Yeah, I could flat-out throw it.''

 

He then joked that he could have quarterbacked the semipro team his dad coached . . . when he was 10.

 

Said former Dolphins teammate Joe Rose, who caught Marino's first TD pass: ``When I talk to my kid about confidence, I tell him about Dan. He's probably sick of hearing me talk about it.''

 

But confidence is not to be confused with arrogance. In 1996, Buddy Morris needed a big favor.

 

Morris, now the strength and conditioning coach for the Cleveland Browns, went to Pitt with Marino and eventually was one of the team's trainers, helping Marino along the way.

 

Morris' daughter, Kara, now 18, will need a liver transplant some day. It has been nine years since the doctors told Morris that, but the initial shock was cause for frenzy.

 

Morris needed money for an emergency fund.

 

Morris called, hoping Marino might be able to help him with a fundraiser.

 

Said Marino: ``When do you need me?''

 

Said Morris: ``When do you have time?''

 

Said Marino: ``Buddy, when do you need me?''

 

They set it up for Father's Day. Over the next two years, Marino emceed and other players paid their own way to Morris' small hometown of Sharon, Pa. The more than $100,000 raised still sits in a bank account waiting for Kara's surgery.

 

''Danny is the greatest, that's all I can tell you,'' Morris said, the words fighting through a lump in his throat.

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Guest marlins02

well i recorded the hall of fame announcements and put on my marino jersey for the first time in a few years. :thumbup it doesnt fit me any more but its all good.

 

need money for august 7th. i want to go.

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SB rings are over-rated...What good is a great QB without a great defense and without great receivers and a great running back?

 

It's a team game, silly to fault him for not winning the big one when he doesn't carry the whole load of the team.

 

Marino >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Bradshaw

Marino >>>>>> Brady

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When Young played, he not only had the best arm in the NFL, he had the best legs as well. How many people can you say that for? Nobody.

He successfully filled the shoes of the greatest QB in NFL history. In any sport, how many have had a predecessor on the level of Montana, and did just as well? THe only thing that comes close is Mickey Mantle replacing Joe DiMaggio.

The greatest QB of all time got injured, and when Young took over he did so well that Montana never got his job back and was thus dumped basically.

Young vs. Marino:

? ? ? ? ? ? ?Young ?Marino
COM. PCT: ? ?64.3 ? 59.4
YRD/ ATT: ? ?8.0 ? ?7.3
TD/ Int: ? ? 2.2 ? ?1.7
Rushing YDS: 4239 ? 87
Yards/ Rush: 5.9 ? ?3.5
QB rating: ? 96.8 ? 86.4

Not to mention the fact that he had to deal with monster winds at Candlestick Park

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When Young played, he not only had the best arm in the NFL, he had the best legs as well. How many people can you say that for? Nobody.

He successfully filled the shoes of the greatest QB in NFL history. In any sport, how many have had a predecessor on the level of Montana, and did just as well? THe only thing that comes close is Mickey Mantle replacing Joe DiMaggio.

The greatest QB of all time got injured, and when Young took over he did so well that Montana never got his job back and was thus dumped basically.

Young vs. Marino:

            Young  Marino
COM. PCT:    64.3   59.4
YRD/ ATT:    8.0    7.3
TD/ Int:     2.2    1.7
Rushing YDS: 4239   87
Yards/ Rush: 5.9    3.5
QB rating:   96.8   86.4

Not to mention the fact that he had to deal with monster winds at Candlestick Park

678613[/snapback]

 

Thank you.

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anybody that thinks Young was better than Marino doesnt know squat about football...Does anybody remember young when he didnt have a good team around him,the guy sucked....Marino played almost his entire career with a bad team and he made players,Young was made a player because of who he played with and thats the major reason why Marino is 10 times the QB young was.....please not even close....

and also yea Young had bad wind at S.F. but he didnt have to play in Rain and mud a couple of times a year like Marino had to...

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anybody that thinks Young was better than Marino doesnt know squat about football...Does anybody remember young when he didnt have a good team around him,the guy sucked....Marino played almost his entire career with a bad team and he made players,Young was made a player because of who he played with and thats the major reason why Marino is 10 times the QB young was.....please not even close....

and also yea Young had bad wind at S.F. but he didnt have to play in Rain and mud a couple of times a year like Marino had to...

680492[/snapback]

Okay, ignore the stats right above you and talk out of your ass :thumbup

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anybody that thinks Young was better than Marino doesnt know squat about football...Does anybody remember young when he didnt have a good team around him,the guy sucked....Marino played almost his entire career with a bad team and he made players,Young was made a player because of who he played with and thats the major reason why Marino is 10 times the QB young was.....please not even close....

and also yea Young had bad wind at S.F. but he didnt have to play in Rain and mud a couple of times a year like Marino had to...

680492[/snapback]

Okay, ignore the stats right above you and talk out of your ass :thumbup

680512[/snapback]

Most Attempts, Career: 8,358

Most Completions, Career: 4,967

Most Yards Passing, Career: 61,361

Most Touchdown Passes, Career: 420

Highest Pass Rating, Rookie Season: 96.0 in 1983

Highest Completion Percentage, Rookie Season: 58.45 in 1983 (296-173)

Most Yards Gained, Season: 5,084 in 1984

Most Games, 400 or more Yards Passing, Career: 13

Most Games, 400 or more Yards Passing, Season: 4 in 1984

Most Games, 300 or more Yards Passing, Career: 60

Most Seasons, 3,000 or more Yards Passing: 13 (1984-92, 1994-95, 1997-98)

Most Consecutive Seasons, 3,000 or more Yards Passing: 9 (1984-92)

Most Games, Four or more Touchdown Passes, Career: 21

Most Games, Four or more Touchdown Passes, Season: 6 in 1984

Most Consecutive Games, Four or more Touchdown Passes: 4 in 1984

Lowest Percentage, Passes Intercepted, Rookie Season: 2.03 in 1983 (296-6)

Most Seasons Leading League, Attempts: 5 (1984, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1997)

Most Seasons Leading League, Completions: 6 (1984-86, 1988, 1992, 1997)

Most Seasons, 40 or more Touchdown Passes: 2 (1984, 1986)

Most Seasons, 20 or more Touchdown Passes: 13 (1983-92, 1994-95, 1998)

Most Consecutive Seasons, 20 or more Touchdown Passes: 10 (1983-92)

100 TD Passes in Fewest Amount of Games to Start Career: 44 (9/7/86 at S.D.)

200 TD passes in Fewest Amount of Games to Start Career: 89 ( 9/17/89 at N.E.)

300 TD passes in Fewest Amount of Games to Start Career: 157 ( 9/4/94 vs. N.E.)

Most Seasons Leading League, Yards Gained: 5 (1984-86, 1988, 1992)

with Sonny Jurgensen (Philadelphia, 1961-62;Washington, 1966-67, 1969)

Most Consecutive Seasons Leading League, Completions: 3 (1984-86)

with George Blanda (Houston, 1963-65)

Most Consecutive Games, 400 or more Yards Passing: 2 (1984)

with Dan Fouts (San Diego, 1982) and Phil Simms (N.Y. Giants, 1985)

Most Consecutive Seasons, 4,000 or more Yards Passing: 3 (1984-86)

with Dan Fouts (San Diego, 1979-81)

Only QB in NFL history to have six 4,000-yard seasons (1984-86, 1988, 1992, 1994)

Led 37 fourth-quarter comeback victories, second only to John Elway.

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hard to compare stats with these two. young was helped by being in a great offense, whose emphasis on short passes and runs-after-the-catch, and having jerry rice doing it. marino was helped - stat-wise - by being on a team with no running game and no defense, putting him in constant passing situations (and clayton, duper and fryar - while not jerry rice - are not exactly lightweights). overall, both were in situations that were conducive to putting up great stats - young for efficiency, marino in productivity - and both did about as well as any quarterback could hope to do.

 

given that its tough to compare stats, i'd make the comparison on skills. marino was definitely the better pure passer, and while young's running (though since overshadowed by vick and others) was a dangerous weapon, i'd still take marino's superior passing and lightning-quick release as the trump cards. that said, they're both no-brainer hall of famers, and you can't put either one of them down too much.

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