The world became familiar with Dan Marino through a cameo appearance in the 1990s movie Ace Ventura, Pet Detective – yet he is thought by many to be one of the greatest athletes never to win a championship in his sport.
Pittsburgh-born Marino was drafted in 1979 by the Kansas City Royals baseball team but chose instead to go to college and play American football, in which he was a high school All-American.
He played three seasons at quarterback for the University of Pittsburgh, losing only three games. His NFL draft status plummeted, however, owing to his lacklustre senior season; the Miami Dolphins took him with the 27th overall pick.
Once he got his chance in the team he started setting records immediately and was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Marino broke every passing record there was, despite never having an especially good supporting cast. In his second season, he led the Dolphins to the AFC Championship. At Super Bowl XIX in 1985, which would be Marino’s only appearance in the event, the Dolphins lost 38-16 to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.
Marino remained with the Dolphins until retiring in 2000, taking them to 10 play-offs in his 17 seasons.
What makes greatness is often a great rival. Marino had that in John Elway. Drafted first in Marino’s class, Elway won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, but his personal achievements and accolades did not match Marino’s. Elway had the benefit of playing with the running-back Terrell Davis as well as an exceptional receiving corps.
Who knows how much Marino (below), the greatest player never to win the big one, might have won with the right team?