Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana was long considered the greatest quarterback of all time. His four Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVPs, the greatest/most clutch touchdown pass in conference title game history, and 40,551 passing yards form an impeccable resume. Then, Tom Brady came along and rewrote all the statistical record books on top of winning seven Super Bowls.
However, the greatest-vs.-best argument brings different criteria to the table. Greatest calls attention to career accolades whereas best highlights individual talent. The best conversation allows for people to make an argument that Aaron Rodgers was the more talented No. 12 of the 2010s and 2020s instead of Brady. Montana utilizes that conversation to declare another player from his time as the best ever: Pro Football Hall of Famer and Miami Dolphins icon Dan Marino.
“He had a quick release, I had to step into a lot of things to get enough [force] on the ball,” Montana said when providing his argument for Marino, via Men’s Health. “He had the perfect torque of his upper body and strength to deliver the ball quickly at a fast release with accuracy.”
Marino’s 1984 NFL MVP season stands out as such an outlier to any other prior to the 21st Century, providing credence to Montana’s claim. Marino threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns in the 1984 season, when a linebacker could clobber wide receivers going over the middle as well as pulverize quarterbacks after the football left their hand. He became the first player ever to throw for either 5,000 yards in a season or 45 or more passing touchdowns in a single season that year. His 48 touchdowns are still up there in the all-time, single-season record book tied for the fifth-most with Rodgers’ 2020 season.
“Put Marino into today’s game where he gets free release … and his receivers, holy cow, weren’t very big,” Montana said. “Now these guys are 6’4, 6’5. I think [Marino] is probably one of the most unsung heroes of the game. People don’t talk enough about him or realize the numbers that he put up during the times that he put them up.”
Marino retired with the most career passing yards (61,361) and passing touchdowns (420) of all time after 17 seasons from 1983-1999. His passing yards now rank as the eighth-most ever while his passing touchdowns stand as the seventh-most of all time.