You’d think Dan Marino would care about his legacy more.
Right now, he’s known by even the most casual fans of football as one of the all-time great quarterbacks, but most of those even most casual of fans would also be able to tell you that, somehow, he never won a Super Bowl. When John Elway snuck his in right near the end, it left Dan Marino and Warren Moon in that purgatorial “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” zone that doesn’t feel good for anyone.
But this week, he had the chance to make sure a much larger accomplishment was synonymous with his name: he could have been the one to force the NFL to do something about concussions and how it treats its more-debilitated-by-the-day former players.
Four days ago, news sites and various forms of social media were inundated with the news that Daniel Constantine Marino Jr. was one of 15 former players who filed a lawsuit against the NFL in federal court, joining more than 4,800 others who have alleged the NFL misled players about the long-term dangers of concussions; while not specifying any medical problems suffered by the plaintiffs, it did seek unspecific damages and medical monitoring.
And this was a big deal. This was Dan Freaking Marino.
Everyone knows Dan Marino. He was America’s favorite underdog for a few good years, he’s made the front of a Wheaties box, he’s always hawking Nutrisystem diet plans during mid-game commercials, hell he was even the main hostage in Ace Ventura (sorry Snowflake). But more importantly, he was in our face every Sunday, malaising his way through various analyses on CBS’ NFL Today.
He could have made this an issue that was as inescapable as Shannon Sharpe’s endearing lisp.
It’s easy to dismiss the staggering number of 4,500 former athletes suing the league the same way all big numbers get lost in the wash, and even Junior Seau, a perennial Pro Bowler, has had his tragic death filed away in a dark, out-of-the-way cabinet, but if Dan Marino, in all his elegance, decided to take a stand and lead this charge, he’d be a hero. He could have made his legacy about something bigger than a “silly” Super Bowl.
But unfortunately, as millions of NFL fans who know that change needs to come to save the sport flittered around excitedly, Dan Marino changed his mind.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinelreports that Marino intends to withdraw his name from the lawsuit, with Marino’s team citing that he did not realize joining the lawsuit would list him as a plaintiff (thus leading to those huge national headlines we talked about earlier):
“Within the last year I authorized a claim to be filed on my behalf just in case I needed future medical coverage to protect me and my family in the event I later suffered from the effects of head trauma. In so doing I did not realize I would be automatically listed as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NFL. I have made the decision it is not necessary for me to be part of any claims or this lawsuit and therefore I am withdrawing as a plaintiff effective immediately. I sympathetic to other players who are seeking relief who may have suffered head injuries. I also disclaim any references in the form complaint of current head injuries.”
You see, even though his peers are claiming they can’t remember their kid’s childhoods, Dan is totally fine right now, and since he is, “it is not necessary for [him] to be a part of any claims.” And just in case anyone was unclear, he made sure to point out that he disclaims “any references in the form complaint of current head injuries.”
However, even though he is now not only stepping down from leading this necessary movement but abandoning it entirely, he does point out that he is “sympathetic to other players who are seeking relief who may have suffered head injuries” because it seems like there are some pretty bad repercussions. That’s got to count for something, right?
It doesn’t seem fair to get angry at Marino for not wanting to take on this daunting task though, and there are already rumors that he is being primed for an executive role with the Dolphins which would make things a little awkward if he had gone forward with this, but it would have been pretty amazing to see him take on one last uphill fight. Maybe this is one of those “not mad, only disappointed” kind of things parents use so effectively.
It’s just a little heartbreaking to see Dan Marino not come through in the clutch yet again.