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Dan Marino is all that stands between Patrick Mahomes and another touchdown record

More than 30 years later, Dan Marino remains the best of the best.

Syndication: USATODAY H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY, USA TODAY via Imagn Content Services, LLC

It’s said that quarterback is the most crucial position in professional sports. That narrative has only ballooned as the league endured an offensive revolution over the last 20 years.

After years of relentlessly tough and physical defenses, the NFL began shifting towards a product focused on finesse, big-time plays, and airing out the football. Defenses aren’t allowed to be as physical as they once were, opening the gates for a new wave of quarterbacks to take the league by storm and re-write the passing statistics throughout the history books.

NFL Network’s James Palmer shared a stat on Tuesday, noting that Patrick Mahomes is 46 touchdowns away from reaching the most touchdown passes in a player’s first six seasons.

Ahead of Mahomes, however, is a perfect example of how there isn’t a rule change — or opposing defense — that can stand in the way of Dan Marino’s greatness.

Marino tossed an average of 32 touchdown passes across his first six years in the league, which was more than 30 years ago. Marino exceeded 40 touchdowns twice in that time, including 48 in his sophomore season.

Mahomes, meanwhile, threw an eye-popping 50 touchdowns in 2018 and followed it up with totals of 26, 38, and 37. For Mahomes to exceed Marino, he’d need to throw nine more touchdowns than he did a season ago — without Pro Bowl receiver Tyreek Hill on the roster, who was traded to Miami this offseason.

Mahomes needs to surpass 45 touchdowns in 2023, something he’s done just once in his career, to capture the top spot.

Not to take anything away from Mahomes and the success he has had, but it can be argued that he and Marino played in two completely leagues. It’s hard to imagine Marino’s stats being any better than they were, but one has to wonder how the 1984 MVP would have done in a league that encourages throwing the football.

We won’t ever know the answer to that, but it hasn’t stopped the product of Pittsburgh from reminding the world time and time again that it didn’t necessarily matter which era he played in, he’ll remain one of the best to ever do it.

That just adds a bit more magic to the legacy of Dan Marino.