When someone speaks of Dan Marino today, thoughts of greatness and record-breaking abilities are normally what come to mind. But some do not know that he slipped all the way to the end of the first-round in the 1983 NFL Draft due to a nasty rumor whose validity was never confirmed.
The class of quarterbacks available in the 1983 draft is still regarded as one of the best ever. It included a number of eventual Hall of Famers such as John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Marino.
Elway was the first quarterback off the board at number one to the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts. Todd Blackledge, Kelly, Tony Eason, and Ken O’Brien were the next four quarterbacks selected in the first round and Marino was still waiting for his name to be called.
He was regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects available that year, yet no team selecting in the early part of the draft felt he was worth taking a chance on.
Some thought his slide in the draft was due to the poor senior season he had at the University of Pittsburgh in 1982. Coming off a junior season in which he threw 37 touchdown passes, Marino tossed just 17 touchdowns and 23 interceptions as a senior.
But a rumor about Marino dabbling into some illegal drugs while at Pittsburgh may have contributed the most to teams passing on him.
The rumor was believable enough for the quarterback to remain without a team after 26 players had been drafted in the first round in 1983. Marino’s alleged drug use was said to have been started by someone from within the NFL to get him to fall in the draft and land with a talented team.
“It started off with just the idea that he was partying. Then it grew more sinister from that.”
Nothing about the quarterback and any sort of drug use was ever proven to be valid. But at a time when there was no internet or text messaging to find out information in a matter of hours, the damage had been done to Marino’s stock in the draft.
Though the allegations were never confirmed, we do have more damning evidence against these pro athletes:
In all honesty, the quarterback’s partying ways were likely more comparable to the average college student and nowhere near what football fans are used to hearing about with the Johnny Manziels and Rob Gronkowskis of the world today.
Perhaps the team that eventually selected him was actually who started this rumor? If so, that would have been the Miami Dolphins, who decided to go ahead and draft Marino with the 27th overall pick in 1982.
Three of the six quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the 1983 draft, including Marino, are now members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The other three, combined to throw a total of 202 less career touchdown passes than Marino did during his 17 years in the NFL.
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