As we reach that point in the offseason when there's really very little happening, everyone is looking for something to write. On NFL.com, the time is being passed by a series of posts from Elliot Harrison, highlighting some of the great players and plays from each of the past decades. On Thursday, he posted the top 20 players from the 1980s, a list which included Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.
Marino was selected by the Dolphins in the first round of the legendary 1983 NFL Draft. From the moment he stepped on the field, Marino began dismantling the NFL and records began to fall. He was selected to five of his nine Pro Bowls during the decade, as well as three First Team All-Pro selections. He was the 1984 NFL MVP, becoming the first player to throw for more than 5,000 yards, and set the record for touchdown passes in a season, that year. He led the league in passing yards four times in the decade, three times in passing touchdowns in a year, three times in pass attempts, and four times in completions. He also led Miami to the Super Bowl following the 1984 season, his only appearance in the title game.
According to Harrison's list, Marino was the top player in the AFC during the decade, landing at number four overall on the countdown. Of Marino, Harrison writes:
Marino played seven seasons in the 1980s, and in three of them, he was named first-team All-Pro. That's an impressive hit rate, being dubbed the absolute best of the best at the game's most important position 43 percent of the time. Oh, and his 1984 campaign might be the most impressive offensive season in NFL history: We're talkin' 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns ... in an era when defensive backs were allowed to play far more aggressively.
The three players ahead of Marino on the list are, likewise, legends of the game. The top spot belongs to the quarterback who beat Marino in Super Bowl XIX, Joe Montana from the San Francisco 49ers. Just behind Montana is New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who was an All-Pro First Team selection in nine of the ten seasons in the 1980s, only missing out on the 1987 selection (in a "down" season in which he "only" recorded 12 sacks - in 12 games), and is one of just two defensive players to ever be named league MVP. Third on the list is another 49ers player, with safety Ronnie Lott taking the position, a four-time Super Bowl champion, eight time First Team All-Pro, and ten time Pro Bowler.
Unfortunately, the Dolphins, despite all of the accolades for and statistics from Marino's right arm, were never able to close the deal on a Lombardi Trophy during the 1980s. Where would Marino rank if he had that ring? Sadly, it's something we will never know.