Twelve years after he was ushered out of the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback position, Dan Marino is watching an even uglier divorce happen in Indianapolis. The Colts and Peyton Manning seemed destined to split this offseason, and Marino hasn't failed to notice the derisiveness of the two sides.
As Mike Berardino of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, Marino was at Sun Life Stadium on today, attending the Dan Marino Foundation's WalkAbout Autism event at stadium. Appearing with Dolphins' general manager Jeff Ireland, Mainro stated, "That's the one deal is they understand. I think Mr. Irsay understands what Peyton has meant to the league and the Indianapolis Colts, and you can understand, too. I think Peyton said he went in to the facility and no one was there. So any guy that's meant so much to the team, and all of a sudden there's changes like that, that's just obvious. I don't think there's anything wrong with him saying that."
The Dolphins are expected to be one of the teams pursuing Manning in free agency, if the Colts do decide to part ways with their four time league MVP. Manning is owed a $28 million bonus on March 8, five days before the new league year - and trading - starts, leading to the idea of cutting him. Manning missed all of last season after having three neck surgeries in the span of 18-months.
"Hopefully he comes back and he's able to play," Marino said. "It would be a shame [if Manning had to retire] because he's such a great player, and I know it's still in his heart that he wants to play."
Earlier this week, Marino spoke about Manning as well. ""Everybody loves Peyton Manning, come on. The question mark is his health. If he's healthy, I'm sure he really would like to continue to play in Indianapolis. He's had his whole career there. That's where his kids have grown up and the whole thing, but you never know. You never know."
Manning's health would be the biggest concern to signing him in the offseason for any team interested.
"I love Peyton," Marino continued today. "I have so much respect for him as a player. Hopefully everything works out for him in a way that he wants it, because I think he deserves that. No matter what it is. A guy that has been so great to the league, so great for Indianapolis and the whole NFL, he deserves whatever it may be - if he's going to still be in Indianapolis or if he's going to play somewhere else or he doesn't play at all - he deserves whatever it could be to be on his terms."
The Dolphins are going to be looking to upgrade their quarterback position in some way this offseason. Ireland said on Tuesday during his annual availability at the Senior Bowl, "We need a quarterback that can lead us over the hump." Manning, who plays golf with Marino in Florida during the offseason, could fill that role.
But, as Marino, who was unceremoniously pushed into retirement by then Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt, continues to watch the drama unfolding in this season's Super Bowl host city, parallels to Marino's own past can't help but be drawn. The question will be, will Manning follow Marino's path into retirement rather than playing for another team (remember, Marino flirted with going to the Minnesota Vikings after the Dolphins moved on at quarterback)?