It’s there. It’s always there. The Elway vs Marino discussion. I’ve been in hundreds of them, and they always end in tears. And for the Elway proponent it always comes down to the rings. “Elway’s got the rings,” they say, guzzling a Coors and zipping up their North Face jackets.
I can’t deny that Elway won two Super Bowls. I have Googled and re-Googled, and it always comes up as a historical fact. But be sure to note, when involved in such a debate, that Elway wouldn’t have been hoisting that trophy if it weren’t for a sixth-rounder named Terrell Davis.
In 1994 Leonard Russell was Denver’s starting back, which certainly left much to be desired. Davis assumed the job, hitting the NFL gridiron with a vengeance. He remains the lowest drafted player to ever crack 1,000 yards in his rookie season. In seven seasons with the Broncos he would log an insane 8,887 total yards and 65 touchdowns. He would carry the Broncos, including Elway, to a pair of Lombardis.
Such a hero never emerged for Danny Boy. It’s a sad list of names. Sammie Smith, Lorenzo Hampton, Karim Abdul Jabbar, Cecil Collins, Mark Higgs…
Marino did what he did with opposing defenses knowing all we could do was pass. They never had to respect our ground game, and could drop more guys into coverage. That he was still nearly unstoppable is proof of his Godlike mastery of football, and his superhuman powers.