Dan Marino put up huge passing numbers during his 17-year NFL career, and if he was still playing today, he thinks he could put up even bigger numbers. The former Dolphins quarterback even suggested that he might be able to smash Peyton Manning's single-season passing record.
"The best part about this is, I'm retired and I don't have to prove it, so yes, we'd throw for 6,000 yards," Marino said.
On one hand, that number is so high that it's almost absurd, but if anyone could pull it off, it's definitely Marino, who was easily the most prolific quarterback of his era.
To give you an idea of Marino's passing ability, just consider this: He set the single-season passing record with 5,084 yards in 1984 and it took 24 YEARS before anyone hit 5,000 yards again (Drew Brees in 2008) and it took 27 YEARS before anyone broke his record (Brees did that when he threw for 5,476 in 2011).
The current single-season record belongs to Manning, who threw for 5,477 yards in 2013 to top Brees' record by 1 yard.
Despite playing in an era where passing was much more difficult, Marino still has the 12th-highest single-season total for passing and the fifth-highest single-season total for touchdown passes (He threw 48 in 1984). Marino's eye-popping numbers are likely a big reason why Joe Montana.
"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."
There are several reasons why current quarterbacks are putting up bigger numbers today and Marino mentioned several of those reasons when talking to Clark.
"You can't hit the quarterback the way you used to," Marino said. "You can't take a shot to the head, you can't [get hit in the] knees and that's a good thing. When I played, you were allowed to do that, players could take shots at you."
Despite taking a beating over 17 years, Marino only missed 25 games in his career.
Another reason quarterbacks have more success throwing the ball now is because the NFL has changed its rules to favor receivers.
"They used to be able to touch you down the field even after 5 yards, even though that was the rule, they were more physical," Marino said.
The biggest rule change came in 2004 when the NFL decided it was going to start emphasizing illegal contact by corners, defensive holdings and look closer at possible pass interference plays. Not surprisingly, offensive production started to shoot up shortly after those rules were implemented.
There have been 15 instances in NFL history where a QB has thrown for at least 5,000 yards in a season and 14 of those have come since 2004 (Marino is the only one who did it before that).
There have also only been 11 instances where a QB has thrown for at least 43 touchdown passes in a season. Nine of those have come since 2004 and you can probably guess who's responsible for both seasons that happened prior to 2004. Yup. Marino.
Although Marino thinks he could put up some big numbers, he does admit that playing in the modern NFL is a lot harder because defenses are offering more complicated looks. Marino said things were pretty basic on defense when he entered the NFL as a rookie in 1983.
"When I first came in, it was pretty standard what you were doing [on defense]," Marino said. "It changed a little bit, but not that much. Now, it's changed a lot more. As a quarterback, you have to be a lot more discipline with your protections and everything that you do."
Marino credited Dick LeBeau with changing the defensive game. LeBeau created a fire zone blitz during his time as a defensive coordinator with the Bengals (1984-1991) and then perfected it once he moved on to Pittsburgh in the 1990s. Marino's career spanned from 1983 to 1999.
"I will say that defenses during the middle of my career and toward the end, they got a little more complex," Marino said. "Guys do a lot more things now as far as blitzing and changing personnel and all that than I did early in my career. Later in my career I had to deal with it."
Although Marino played at a time when it wasn't easy to throw the ball, he still managed to finish his career with 61,361 passing yards and 420 touchdown passes. Both numbers still rank in the top eight in their respective categories in NFL history.
Marino actually celebrated his 62nd birthday on Sept. 15 and if you want to read a few more facts about the Dolphins legend,.