It’s been 20 years since Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino hung up his cleats for good but his impact is still felt throughout the world of football.
Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes has often been compared to Marino, both for his accomplishments at such an early juncture in his career and his downfield passing game.
Marino spoke to Yahoo Sports Canada ahead of Super Bowl LIV to give his thoughts on this Sunday’s matchup, a reflection on his own career, and the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Yahoo Sports Canada: Patrick Mahomes just joined an exclusive club with just you and Kurt Warner in it. Do you know what that club is?
Dan Marino: Let me know what the exclusive club is!
YSC: The exclusive club is for players who have won the MVP and taken their team to the Super Bowl in their first three seasons. I know that you’ve called Patrick Mahomes the best player in the NFL before. What has impressed you so much about him?
Marino: His style of play and just being a young guy. Patrick Mahomes, he’s the type of quarterback that has done things a lot of other guys haven’t done at that young age. That’s what impresses me the most. Just listening to Andy Reid and some of the people that work there in Kansas City, the type of player he is and how he works and the things he does that a lot of people don’t see, like watching the extra film, being a leader. All the things that you do as a young quarterback that gives you the respect and the leadership that you have to have.
YSC: A lot of people have compared Mahomes to you because he’s excelled at any early age. What type of advice would you give to Mahomes about sustaining this level of play throughout his career?
Marino: I don’t think he needs my advice but my advice would be just to continue to love the game the way he loves it.
Giving advice to Patrick Mahomes about his sustaining his level of play is easy: just love the game. Keep doing what you’re doing.
He has all the talent in the world. You enjoy watching him because he throws from all different arm angles, makes throws a lot of people can’t make. For me, I enjoy watching him, because not only what he does on the field, obviously, but apparently his work ethic and what he does off the field as far as in meetings and just learning the game and loving the game of football.
YSC: You threw 48 touchdown passes in 1984. If we had to adjust for era, that’s like 70 nowadays. What have you seen in the changes, in the modern era of football that’s excited you? Are there any quarterbacks other than Mahomes who excite you on Sundays?
Marino: The changes in the game, especially in the passing game. I threw 48 touchdowns quite a few years ago and a lot of guys are getting to those numbers now.
I think it really is, the way the rules have changed. They make it a little safer for the quarterbacks who can stand in there, can’t hit a quarterback in the head or in the legs. The way the rules are on defensive backs have changed it a lot. And it’s become more of a passing game because of the short throws too, the bubble screens, the quick screens, all those things normally would be running plays years ago. Now, they’re pass plays and that’s how they’re putting up these big numbers.
YSC: This might be a bit of a sore spot and I apologize but the 1984 49ers, 35 years after the fact, are now widely considered one of the greatest teams of all-time. Can you take any consolation or solace in knowing that your Super Bowl loss is to one of the all-time great teams?
Marino: So, losing to the 49ers and them being one of the all-time great teams, to me, it’s still upsetting that we lost to them because that was my only opportunity. They had a great football team, Montana and that group really did a good job that day. Defensively, they were a very tough defense, they were No. 1 in the league that year and we were No. 1 in scoring. It just didn’t work out that day but I do appreciate the type of team that they were.
YSC: You stopped playing before the rise of fantasy football. What are your general thoughts on fantasy football and wouldn’t it have driven you crazy as a quarterback when fans ask ‘why aren’t you performing for my team’ type of culture these days?
Marino: Fantasy football, I think is great for the game. It’s great for fans. The main reason is because you can follow games that you might not be interested in otherwise. I think it makes the game itself better because you get more younger fans that love fantasy football.
I believe I used to be in some of the fantasy stuff way back when, when it first got started. The rules have changed with fantasy football, but I think it’s great for the game.
YSC: The world of sports lost a legend in Kobe Bryant. I was wondering, what were your impressions of him, did you ever meet him?
Marino: Yesterday was tough. I’ve met Kobe a couple of times. Not long, had a little bit of conversations with him. But just respected his style of play and what he was and it’s just hard. Not only just Kobe and his daughter, but the other people that were on that plane, their families, and how it affects all of them. It’s just devastating. I’ve always loved his style of play, the player that he was, enjoyed his career as a Laker.
I played my whole career, 17 years in Miami, and Kobe played his whole career in L.A. And I think it’s great for the community and it’s great for the individual and it’s what makes this so sad, because he was so loved in Los Angeles, and the fans and what he did there and what he was able to accomplish with all the championships. It’s a tough one, and it’s a tough one for all those families. And I’m sure all the L.A. fans loved the fact that he was a Laker.
YSC: I can only imagine. A lot of people have drawn comparisons between you and Kobe because you both recovered from some pretty horrific Achilles injuries and still came back at a pretty high level. What would you say about that type of resilience and playing at that legendary level that’s been expected of you?
Marino: I think it’s a mindset. Coming back from injuries like an Achilles, Kobe did that and I did it too. It’s a mindset of just knowing that you have to adjust, and make it work. That’s what great athletes do. Tiger Woods did it before where he had to adjust his game because of injuries. You just make it work that way the best way you can. And it’s being mentally tough getting through those type of injuries.
YSC: The Chiefs have this vertical passing game with Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman. Do you see any similarities between that team and you with Mark ‘Super’ Duper and Mark Clayton with that downfield passing game at all?
Marino: Yeah, I do see some similarities because Duper and Clayton, similarities with the Kansas City Chiefs and Mahomes, our offense in ‘84, I thought was outstanding because it started with those two guys and they were young and they could roll. I do see some similarities because that’s what they’re doing, the Kansas City Chiefs. They’re not just necessarily throwing a bunch of bubble screens and little slants and all that, they’re going down the field and we were a team that did that too.
YSC: What are your general impressions of the 49ers?
Marino: They’re a really solid football team. They’re a team that deserves to be there.
They’re a really good football team and they’ve come a long way in a couple of years. (Jimmy) Garoppolo, I think, is a solid young quarterback. When they had to call him this year to step up and throw for a lot of yards, and win games when other guys were hurt, he was able do that.
I think for them, they’ve got a running game and they can rush the passer and that’s going to be the challenge for the Kansas City Chiefs. If the defensive line of the 49ers can get pressure on Mahomes with four, just five, and they can do it — they’ve done that before — it’ll give them a great chance of winning the football game. But I do like Kansas City in this game.
YSC: You like Kansas City! I was going to ask for your Super Bowl prediction, so who do you think wins Super Bowl MVP?
Marino: Who’s going to win the MVP?
YSC: You said the Chiefs are going to win the Super Bowl, so -
Marino: If the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, it’ll be Mahomes winning the MVP.
YSC: OK. And if the 49ers win the Super Bowl?
Marino: So, we don’t know yet because if they run the ball they’ve been running it, it could be (Raheem) Mostert. Or if not — usually it’s the quarterback, if the team wins, if they have a good game. So I would say, it would be Garoppolo, then.
YSC: You are arguably the greatest athlete in the history of the city of Miami. With the Super Bowl being in Miami, do you feel like it has some weighted or added importance to you this year?
Marino: Does the Super Bowl have special importance being in Miami? Yes, it does, because I live in South Florida. I think it’s great for our community having the Super Bowl there, South Beach, the beach, people love coming there, it’s an international city. The importance to me, is having Super Bowls just for our community. I think it’s outstanding. I’m looking forward to it and it’ll be a lot of fun.
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