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  Cast Him In Bronze: Marino Made Good
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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“Once in great, great while, a 10 year old comes along to play with the philharmonic orchestra, and once in a great, great while a Dan Marino comes along to throw the football. You can’t explain why. You just watch in amazement.”

-- Sid Gillman


I'll always remember that summer day in 1983. The heat was sweltering, the humidity heavy; a typical Miami summer afternoon.



My Dad and I were headed for St. Thomas University, at the time the practice facility for the Miami Dolphins. The air conditioner in my Dad's car was broken so we had the windows open, the hot wind blowing in the car as we zoomed down the expressway.


The famed Killer B defense was the strength of the team. “WoodStrock”, the quarterback tandem of David Woodley and Don Strock, wasn’t an ideal situation but it was good enough to get them to Super Bowl XVII just a few months earlier.


Now the Dolphins had drafted a guy from the University of Pittsburgh, someone named Dan Marino.


Woodley’s maddeningly inconsistent play and Strock’s talent for relief pitching had left the Dolphins still searching for a franchise QB to replace Bob Griese.


We were obviously curious to see if Marino would be the one.


Parking was quite a ways from the beat up wooden bleachers where the fans were allowed to take in the action. The stands were unshielded in the blazing sun and the smell of Coppertone permeated the air. I lugged a cooler along as there were no concession stands.


We sipped Cokes and scanned the field, looking for the target of our curiosity.


Suddenly, a tall curly-haired kid wearing an orange #13 jersey came trotting out of the cement block field house and onto the field. Everyone looked at him.


He was a lot bigger than Griese. And, after going through passing drills with the receivers, it was obvious that his arm was stronger. Clearly, this was a fast ball pitcher.


Don Shula blew his whistle and the Dolphins came together to scrimmage each other. During the 11-on-11 exercise, we all watched (enjoyed!) an incredible passing exhibition.


At times the defense, the famed Killer B defense, seemed powerless to stop it.


After practice was over we headed back to the car, amazed at what we had just seen. We marveled at the velocity of the throws and the sheer speed of his release.


There was no question that this kid could play. Only his own rookie mistakes had spoiled the rhythm of his work.


We knew then that the Dolphins had something special. We just didn’t know how special.


For those who watched Dan Marino’s career, from his first training camp through his final season, this weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies serve as a moment of pride, of tribute, of happiness for the recognition of the greatest player in team history, of the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.


For Marino, it is the satisfying culmination of a brilliant NFL career. It is an opportunity to say “thank you” to so many who helped him get to where he is today, in football and in life.


I won't lay out all of the records and accomplishments here. Marino’s profile occupies a large chunk of the team's media guide, so voluminous are his achievements.


Suffice it to say that Marino owns every single important NFL career passing record. All of them. As a leader of men, he made those around him better. An NFL Most Valuable Player (1984), the teams he quarterbacked had only one losing season in 18. One. Year after year he elevated his team to heights that they would not have otherwise been able to achieve or, in some years, deserve.


Off the field, his charitable and community efforts made him an indelible part of the fabric of South Florida and the NFL. He won the NFL Man of the Year award in 1998, primarily for his work in creating the Dan Marino Center at Miami Children’s Hospital. His work with organizations like Make-A-Wish has become legendary.


In a sports world full of jerks, it’s terrific to see a good guy finish on top. Really, underneath all the trappings and bling, Dan Marino is just a regular family guy. He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. Perhaps in the end it was his humanity that truly endeared himself to people.


Now Marino’s career comes full circle, from that first training camp in Miami in 1983 to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.


There can be no doubt: Dan Marino made good. He delivered.


Congratulations, Dan. Well done. Thanks for giving your best on the field.


Most of all, thanks for doing it the right way.




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