Marino argument takes a hit
Posted on Fri, Sep. 21, 2007
By GREG COTEmailto:gcote@MiamiHerald.com
Dan Marino only rises in stature in our corner of the world. His legend grows and the memory of him sweetens with every passing year and every failed attempt to replace him.
Nationally, though, Marino's place in NFL history slips by degrees.
The Dolphins' great No. 13 sees his legacy worked over by the ever-growing emphasis on winning Super Bowls as a bottom line for measuring quarterbacks.
By the ascension of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady from present-day stars to an unquestioned place among the all-time greats.
And by Brett Favre surpassing Marino's record of 420 touchdown passes. Others wore the rings but Marino had the records; that is changing. Favre is at 417. Marino's signature record will change hands within weeks, if not in two days.
None of this makes Marino any less important or beloved around Greater Miami, but it may be time to acknowledge that few in football outside of Dolfans argue anymore for Marino as the greatest QB ever.
Heck, Ron Jaworski on ESPN the other day didn't even have Marino in his top eight. That's being ring-obsessed. But it reflects a school of thought gaining steam.
Marino won't fall from the greatest-ever conversation, but increasingly he is the token non-champion mentioned only for the prolific stats.
Historically I'd place Marino with Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas and not be picky about the order, with Steve Young fourth. I don't buy the notion rings alone put a man above Marino.
But what once distilled as Montana-or-Marino has changed.
I think Manning, Brady and Favre all have leapfrogged Marino in national regard in the past year, and I can't argue that each probably should.
With good health Super Manning will someday own all the records Favre is taking from Marino, his ring last season balancing the ledger.
Brady, with three championships and a great shot this year at a fourth by age 30, is poised to surpass Montana in the greatest-winner/ultimate-champ category.
Favre has won more games than any QB. He has won a Super Bowl -- and it takes but one to chase those ghosts. Now, soon: the TD mark.
''I really didn't think anybody could get to it,'' Marino admitted this week. ``But I thought if one guy would, it would be Brett.''
That's because no football man has combined excellence and durability like Favre. Sunday marks his record 240th straight start, his most impressive achievement.
''To me my legacy is more than records,'' Favre said Wednesday on a conference call. ``I hope it's the way I played and the durability, the reliability.''
Favre calls winning the most games the record most meaningful to him. He says winning a Super Bowl is his shining moment. He hopes the consecutive-games mark most shapes his legacy.
Which tells you a lot: That the career TD mark he's about to own -- the one record that most defined Marino -- will rank only fourth in what's special to Favre.