Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sir Dan Doesn't Need Crown to Be Great

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sir Dan Doesn't Need Crown to Be Great

Article excerpt

The big man sat in a golf cart, wind blowing, mind searching for words to put the day's hot topic in perspective.

The big man? Jaguars offensive tackle Leon Searcy. The topic? What else has anyone around the NFL wanted to discuss lately?

The tragedy, injustice and heartbreak that is the story of Dan Marino.

Poor Marino, the sentiment goes. No Super Bowl victory. No crowning moment. And what's worst, we in the media would have you believe, no ring.

I wondered, though, about the validity of the sentiment, if retiring ringless really tainted a career. So, Tuesday, after a charity event at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, a day after Marino retired as Dolphins quarterback, I asked Searcy about the whole ring-obsession thing.

Did players really believe a career incomplete with no ring? Or is it a product of the media, an easy story made familiar every time a great player nears the end of a career without one?

Searcy, among the most quotable and thoughtful Jaguars, gave the question serious thought, then said, "Here's what it is, OK? You can have a great career, but winning that championship, it's like being knighted.

"Getting that ring, it's like now you're Sir Leon, Sir Whoever. That's what the ring does."

Of the "tainted-career" theory, he said, "It doesn't taint your career, but the possibility of the ring is what keeps you going."

In that last statement is where the story of Marino should be found. Not that he has no ring. Football is the ultimate team game and to judge Marino on ringlessness is to commit the unfair act of judging a person on something beyond his control.

Here's how to judge Marino fairly: In how he performed in the quest for that ring, and the extent to which it drove him.

Glance at recent history for the absurdity of the ring argument.

John Elway, until 1997, was considered one of the best quarterbacks ever, but rarely THE best. The best comeback quarterback, maybe, but Marino was the consensus choice as the best of his era, and many considered him the best ever. …

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