Would you consider 1983 to be an eventful year? Michael Jackson’s Thriller began its chart assault en route to becoming the best selling album of all time. Tom Cruise starred as the man of the house in Risky Business. This year also included a duo of quarterbacks taken in the 1983 NFL Draft who went by the names of John Elway and Dan Marino. Both of these players would go onto rewrite the record books and change the position of quarterback forever. Their careers would go in different paths though.
John Elway was a top notch player at Stanford. The west coast is where he grew up, complete with a laidback and carefree attitude. Football wasn’t his only talent. He declined a contract to play baseball for the New York Yankees. Taken first overall in the draft by the Baltimore Colts, he was unhappy with his new home ultimately refusing to play for the Colts. As a result, a trade occurred sending him to the Denver Broncos. Upon his arrival in Denver, the Broncos didn’t have an instant media darling on their hands. You could consider him the Denver Broncos’ whipping boy. The fans would turn on him in an instant. By all means, he wasn’t blessed with a powerful arm and a pure understanding on how to be in the NFL’s top echelon of quarterbacks. What he lacked in a powerful arm and pure passing ability, he made up for it in mobility, athleticism and leadership. Marino was more feared any day of the week because of his powerful arm and release. Elway would put fear in his opponents’ eyes more with his overall athletic ability and leadership ability. In my opinion, John Elway was one of the best running quarterbacks ever to strap on cleats. He was more likeable also because of his easy going nature and the level of toughness he possessed. Between Dan and John, John would come out on top though in what all NFL players strive for in their career, a Super Bowl ring. Two of these rings to be exact. The best ring Dan Marino could ever earn besides a hall of fame ring is an AFC title ring. Other records that go in Elway’s favor are: most comebacks by a quarterback ever (47), most wins by a starting quarterbacks ever (148) and 7 consecutive seasons of 3,000 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. Not a bad career if I would say so myself.
Dan Marino played on the opposite end of the country at the University of Pittsburgh. A Pittsburgh kind of guy through and through, he wasn’t afraid to share his opinions and his lack of patience with people who questioned him. Taken 27th in the 1983 NFL draft upon swirling rumors of drug abuse, his reputation was in question. Being called the heart of the Dolphins for his 16 year career put Elway’s franchise stature to shame. He was an instant star whereas Elway took a few years to develop his craft. In only his second season, Dan threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns. Pretty amazing statistics for a second year player who was still blossoming . That second season also included a trip to the Super Bowl which happened to be a loss. Any day of the week, Dan Marino was more accurate, had better release and timing and an overall better pure quarterback. A mobile quarterback with a running ability was not his strongpoint though. He was tougher to sack and able to read a defense better than Elway though. His passing numbers always were the better of these two year in and year out. You could also find him in the league leaders for every passing category where Elway’s numbers were more of the average sort. Dan’s likeability with his peers lessened because of his hot temper and his willingness to lash out at his teammates. Dan Marino never got that elusive championship ring but did manage to get almost every single passing record including 1st all time for most passing yards and 1st all time for most touchdowns thrown. One final thing always eluded Dan which John had to his advantage finally in the tail end of his career which was a running game. This running game known as Terrell Davis helped John win two Super Bowls. A legitimate running game would not come to Miami until 2 years after Dan Marino retired. Maybe he should’ve played a couple extra years to get that running game to help him get a shiny Super Bowl ring.
As much as these two quarterbacks were different, they both ended their careers as legends. Their combined numbers eclipse 100,000 yards passing and their names are ranked 1 and 2 for all time passing yards and wins for a quarterback. Both of these superstars are enshrined in Canton, Ohio in the National Football League Hall of Fame. Both also came from the Quarterback Class of 1983 which also included Jim Kelly, a fellow hall of famer. Even though people may call John Elway “Bucky” because of his buckteeth, I still think he is the best damn quarterback ever to play in the National Football League. Not bad for a California Boy who gave up the opportunity to play baseball with the Bronx Bombers in the house that Ruth built.