Neither did the Dolphins' running game, which managed 25 yards. Marino set Super Bowl records for attempts (50) and completions (29), for 318 yards, but the 49ers won 38-16.

Marino's lone appearance in a Super Bowl pretty much time-capsuled his career. He was so damn good, so headstrong, so stubborn, so intimidating that he overwhelmed even Don Shula's better judgment.

Shula loved this kid so much he couldn't bring himself to give Marino any tough love. Any "I'm going to get us a good back and let him share the load" love.

Marino's offense sometimes scored too fast. Miami's defense sometimes spent far too much time on the field, especially in playoff games.

It took Michael Jordan seven years of postseason frustration to give in to something Marino never quite did. By 1991, coach Phil Jackson finally convinced Jordan that he needed to commit to getting his teammates involved early in every game. Jordan, of course, proceeded to win six NBA titles.

Elway didn't win his two Super Bowls until Mike Shanahan found a running back named Terrell Davis in the sixth round and convinced an aging Elway to let the kid share the load.

Marino's greatest victory came in a regular-season game. The 1985 Bears had the most overpowering defense ever. They rolled into the Orange Bowl 12-0 to face the 8-4 Dolphins. Two weeks earlier at Texas Stadium, the Bears had beaten a Cowboys team that would win the NFC East, 44-0.

But in the first half that night in Miami, rolling out more than he ever had, Marino converted on third-and-18, third-and-19, third-and-13 and third-and-7. Miami scored on its first five possessions to take a 31-10 halftime lead. Miami won 38-24.

Marino's greatness that night was more quality than quantity. He completed only 14 of 27, but for 270 yards and three TDs.

Yet after that night alone, Marino would have had my first-ballot Hall of Fame vote. There has never been anything quite like him, ring or no ring.

But could Walsh have harnessed Marino? I'll say they could have won one Super Bowl together, no more -- and that's only because I consider Walsh the greatest coach ever.

But Marino would have bucked Walsh's system, too. Like Shula, Walsh probably would have tried, often unsuccessfully, to reconfigure his attack around Marino's gunslinging strengths. Maybe in 1988, Walsh could have persuaded Marino to utilize Roger Craig at his 1,502-yard rushing peak. Maybe Craig could have run for 1,200 and still caught the 76 passes (for 535 yards) he did catch. Maybe Marino could have shaved the 4,434 yards he threw for that season in Miami down to Montana's 2,981 in '88.

Maybe, just once, Walsh could have pulled off that balancing act with Marino and they could have won it all together.

Remember, even as dominant a personality as Jimmy Johnson couldn't overpower Marino's temperament. After winning a national championship at the University of Miami and two Super Bowls in Dallas, Johnson took over the Dolphins in 1997. His biggest shock was that there was a man in South Florida much more powerful than him.



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