Dan Marino's enshrinement speech transcript

Enshrinement Published on : 1/1/2005

2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony
August 7, 2005
Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium

DANIEL MARINO: Good afternoon.  I’ve always felt that I was truly blessed in so many ways.  But, most importantly, in the way that no one could ask for better examples of people than my parents.  There’s never been a situation that they didn’t know how to approach or how to act in.  They’ve always treated people with so much compassion and are so grateful for everything in their lives.  I think that all five of my brothers and sisters would agree that we were all so lucky to be raised by such wonderful people. 

My father has made a lot of smart decisions on the field but I believe his smartest decision he’s ever made was one he made off the field.  He chose my mom.  Together, they have shaped me and my family in such a meaningful and positive way.  And, so rarely do you find parents so willing to give you everything in return only their children’s happiness.  My parents will belong in me and my siblings’ personal Hall of Fame always for that. 

Daniel MarinoI’m often asked the question, ‘are you a football player?’  or ‘does your dad want you to play football or sports?’  It may seem to many people that that would be appropriate but my father has always supported me in whatever I chose to do.  Whether I was performing, whether Joey was golfing, whether Allie was horse riding, whether Michael was deejaying.  As, I’m sure he support Niki and Lia in whatever passion they choose to pursue. 

My father’s friends have always said to me repeatedly how proud he is of his children.  They tell me that he can’t seem to stop talking about us.  My father only asks us to work hard at what we do.  It seems odd to me that such a modest request can make my father so happy.  But, our passion for something seems to make him as eager and as happy as if he was waiting to go on the field.  For this, me and my siblings are all so very fortunate. 

Perhaps this can shed some light on the man off the field – the family man who has always been a loving father.  My father played quarterback for the Miami Dolphins from the years 1983 to 1999.  I don’t claim to be the biggest football fan in my household.  Aside from my dad, my brothers Joey and Michael have that honor.  Growing up watching my dad was difficult with a pre-teen attention span and even tougher with a pre-school attention span.  However, from that time I will never forget the scars on my arms from my mom’s fingernails when she squeezed them for dear life watching my dad on the field.  But now that I’m older I can appreciate more what my father did.

And, I sometimes watch my father’s old games on tape and I can’t put into words the experience of watching your father when he was young win a game.  When he yells, when he skips off the field, hugs his teammates and his coach, a look of competitive accomplishment on his face.  That look always made him stand out for me a little on the field.  I don’t think my father was ever out of the game.  If you watch him from the sideline, he watches every play with intensity.  Eager when the defense is keeping the opposing team from getting down the field.  And, if the Dolphins had a bad play, the cameras would have to cut away for the family audiences. 

My father is the most passionately competitive person I know.  If there’s one thing you can say about my father is that his competitive spirit matches his ability as a player. 

In the same way that my grandfather is my father’s hero, my father has always been my hero, and in the same way, I hope my children will look up to me one day.  But, it would be selfish of me to say that I’m the only one who looks upon my father as a hero.  My father has given so much to the community he lives in.  The time he has spent with the sick and terminally ill children; the Dan Marino Children’s Hospital, founded for children with neurological disorders; the Dan Marino Foundation that has worked with children’s charities in South Florida have, I’m sure, all earned him the status of hero with many other people.  Both my parents have given so much time to helping the community in which they live.  And my father’s hand reaches far beyond the community he lives in as well. 

My father was always committed to his team and his teammates.  Even if my father scored four touchdowns and failed to win, it was always to him, a lost game.  The Miami Dolphins were and still are my dad’s team.  More than that, they are in a way his extended family.  My father’s seventeen years was spent with one franchise, the franchise he loved.  And that seems to be so rare in professional sports today, I thought it was worth mentioning. 

I always felt that talent if nothing else is something that you don’t have control over.  My father was very lucky in that department.  But, it’s what you do with your talent that counts.  My father, when he played, worked his hardest and always played to the best of his abilities.  I think that’s all a coach could ask of a player, and furthermore all you could ask of a person. 

One thing, when I started writing this speech which I realized was that you have to start thinking very hard about how you feel about your father.  And, I realized how completely unselfish my father’s life has been.  His induction into the Hall of Fame is recognition of his abilities and career on the field.  But, I personally feel, it is also in recognition of father’s life in many ways.  A life that was never about him but about his team, his fans, his community, his friends, and his family. 

I’d like to introduce to you my father, my hero, and my friend.  Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Marino .

DAN MARINO: Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you so much.  Dan-o.  I’m so proud of you, son.  Thank you.

He did a great job. He literally wouldn’t let Claire or I know what he was going to say.  Thank you, son.  I’m very proud.

I want to thank and congratulate the families of NFL pioneers Benny FriedmanFritz Pollard and I enjoyed being with you this weekend, the families. Steve Young, congratulations on your induction. I've always admired your style of play. It’s an honor to be in the Class of 2005.

To Jim and Jill Kelly, they've been friends a lot of years. I can't imagine what you’re going through. Our prayers are with you.

Dan MarinoTo the people of Canton ... wow, what can I say? The pride that you all take in this weekend, Hall of Fame weekend. I'm proud to be a part of it, and you can count on me coming back all the time.

Last January, when I was elected to the Hall of Fame, I challenged Dolphins fans to overrun Canton, Ohio. And you know what, we’ve taken it over!  Thank you. Thank you all of you, the 13 jersey up there, everybody up in the corner.  All of you, thank you so much.

I started playing football when I was 10 years old. That year my father and I took a short drive to a very special place, 90-minute drive from Pittsburgh to Canton, Ohio, where I spent the day with him at the Hall of Fame. To think now that 33 years later I'm actually here with my mother, my dad, my family, teammates, friends, being inducted into the Hall of Fame, it's overwhelming and an incredible honor.

And, it's also an honor to be up here with so many great Hall of Famers that include the great players and coaches that have made the game what it is today. It’s humbling and I’m proud to be part of this special club guys, thank you.

As a young man, God blessed me with a special talent to throw a football and I was very fortunate to grow up in an environment like the city of Pittsburgh in the neighborhood of Oakland, an area that was full of football tradition. My dream started right there on Parkview Avenue in Oakland and it stayed there for 21 years. There's not many players who can say they went to grade school, high school, college all in the same neighborhood, all within a short walk from the home that I grew up in. It was literally a 10-minute walk from my home to the 50-yard line of old Pitt Stadium.

I lived right across the street from a church when I was a kid and I still have vivid memories of playing football for St. Regis.  On the morning of games, going to church in full dress uniform. We’d have cleats, pads, helmets, everything. We were wearing everything and the coaches would lead us in prayer. We would say Hail Marys and Our Fathers in praying for victory and then we'd march down the street, cheerleaders, band playing, to play our game. And it didn't get much better than that. And you know what? We never lost.

I'd like to think that God was on my side, but then again it was a Catholic Church League and he was on everybody's side.

Central Catholic was my high school and it was a great place for an education. Where are you? I know there's a bunch of you here. Great place for an education and also it was a great place to play the game of football and many of my teammates I know are here and friends from high school. I thank you for coming to Canton.

I also want to mention my high school coach, Rich Erdelyi's here. Coach, you meant so much to us. I want to thank you for taking the pride and dedication and teaching us the game of football. Of course, Coach Erdelyi takes all the credit for my success. To this day, he still tells the story that when I went to Central that I was throwing left-handed and he actually taught me how to throw right. Problem is, I think he believes it after all these years. Thank you, coach.

From Central Catholic I went right down Fifth Avenue a few blocks to the University of Pittsburgh, where I had four great years. Pitt taught me how to compete at a high level. To tell you how talented our teams were, most weeks our practices were tougher and more demanding than any games we’d play on Saturday. I still say the 1980 team could've beat Georgia at 1 o'clock, Notre Dame at 4 o'clock and been national champs if we were only given the chance. And I have some friends over there, Rickey Jackson, Hugh Green, Jimbo Covert, they'd all attest to that.

To all my Pitt teammates, thanks for coming. Coach Jackie Sherrill, Foge Fazio. Coach Sherrill, I'll never forget your passion for the game and I'll also never forget the advice you gave me the summer of my freshman year. After coach Sherrill watched me throw for 15 minutes, he pulled me over, he said, 'Son, whatever you do, don't let anybody change your style or how you throw the football. You just keep throwing it like you're throwing it. Coach, thanks.

Then came the 1983 draft. I will say it was an interesting day. I've always been asked the question, 'Did it bother me that 26 teams passed on me in the first round?' and I would always answer 'No.' Well, I lied.

Today, I want to thank those 26 teams for passing on me. You gave me an opportunity to play for one of the greatest franchises in the NFL - the Miami Dolphins. And to be coached by the greatest coach ever - Don Shula .

Coach, other than my father, you’re the most significant influence on my football career. You pushed me and demanded my best. Coach, you were always a true professional and I want to thank you for the example that you set for me on the field, but also in the community. We didn't win a Super Bowl together and that’s something I will always regret not knowing what that feels like. But you and I have won more games together than any quarterback and coach in the history - the culmination - the history of the NFL. That’s something I'm very proud of.

Football is the ultimate team game and as you know no one gets to the Hall of Fame alone. And I'm honored that so many of my Dolphin teammates are here today. Many of you showed up and I thank you.

Dan Marino with bustAnd right from the start you've helped me. I remember my first start going back to 1983. It was against Buffalo and I was a rookie. To be honest, I was a little nervous.

And I stood on the sidelines I remember a veteran, a veteran safety coming up to me, Lyle Blackwood. He came up to me with a serious look and he shook my hand and he said, 'Dan, good luck today. And I don't want you to feel any pressure, but remember this one thing: If you play bad, we'll lose.' Now that's pressure on a rookie.

For 17 years, I was blessed to play with so many great players and coaches. Through all of the good times and bad, all of the wins and the losses, the one thing I could count on was that I could count on my teammates.

I want to thank all the linemen, you guys for protecting me. All of the receivers for the tough catches. All the coaches for helping me be the best player I could possibly be. I will cherish those Sundays that we lined up together. And to every Dolphin player that I’ve ever stepped on the field with, thank you for sacrifice and your dedication. I know in my heart that I would not be here without you.  All of you, every player, every coach, I share in my induction into the Hall of Fame and I share in this bust.  I mean that. 

I wish I could thank all of you individually, but I would like to mention a few. Two guys - Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. Yeah. (applause) Yeah, you deserve it.

In 1984, we set a standard for throwing the football that teams are still trying to match today. And the one thing I remember most about Duper and Clayton is their competitive spirit and their attitude that they were the best. Every time they would come back to the huddle, they would always insist that they were open and that they always wanted the ball. And they constantly reminded me that they were making me a star. Thank you guys.  Hopefully, I’ll see you here some day because you guys deserve it.

To my fellow Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson , who is right back here. Dwight, it was a privilege to take snaps from the best center to ever play the game of football.

And to my main man Don Strock, sitting right here. My kids call him Uncle Don. As a quarterback I couldn't have had a better teammate to learn from or a better friend. Coach Shula, “Stroker” and I have something to confess. We use to have special hand signals that we would use that if we didn't like the play that you called, well, coach, we’d just change it.  But coach, I tell you, it was Don's idea.

I was one of the fortunate few to spend his entire career in one place, one team, and play for two great owners. I want to thank the late Joe Robbie and the Robbie family for bringing me to Miami.

I want to thank Wayne and Marti Huizenga. Wayne, you were a great boss but also you were a very special friend. Thank you for your commitment to the Dolphins, but also for your commitment to the community in sports in South Florida.

There are so many in the Dolphin organization who’ve helped me over my career. The trainers, equipment staff, community relations, the PR department and also one man, who stood for class in the entire franchise, former president Eddie Jones. Eddie, I would like to thank you for your commitment to the Dolphins and I want to thank all of you in the Dolphins organization for helping me on and off the field. You’re all a special part of my career.

This is a proud day, not only for me but for the entire Marino family and I'm blessed that you're all here. But there’s one lady who's missing, great grandma Marino. Grandma was a true Dolphin fan, she was a true sports fan. What I loved about grandma was, she always said I never threw an interception that was my fault. And I believe grandma, I think she was right. She was a great lady and a tough lady and we wish she was here. My two sisters are here, Cindi and Debbie. All the games you went to supporting me and cheering me on. It seems like you always put me first and I'm glad you're here with your families.

To my mother and dad, we've come a long way from Parkview Avenue. Mom and dad, I still can't figure out why they called it Parkview Avenue because there wasn't a park and there wasn't no view. But I can tell you that a son couldn't ask for better parents. Mom, thank you for your dedication to Cindi, Debbie and me. We were lucky we got to be raised in such a healthy and loving environment. You're the the best and I love you.

My dad, you're my hero. You're my role model, you're the best coach I've ever had. You taught me how to throw a football, you taught me about hard work, howto be positive.

I'll always remember the times that we'd just sit and talk about football and about life. You taught me how to treat people the way you want to be treated. You would always say that you didn't deserve anything in life; you only deserve what you earn. My only hope is that Claire and I could pass on those important values to our children. Thank you, dad. My dad would always tell me that no one does it better. Well, let me say that no one is better than you.

To Claire and the kids, you guys are my true Hall of Famers. You guys are my whole life, you mean everything to me. Win or lose, no matter what the situation, the kids and Claire are always there with smiles, hugs and kisses. Dano, Michael, Joey, Allie, Niki, Lia. I love you guys.

Claire, we've had 21 years together. You've been my best friend. You've been an incredible mom. I can't imagine where I'd be without you. There's nothing better than going through life with your best friend right next to you along the way. Claire, you've been my best friend. Thank you for making my life complete and kids, making my life complete.

Looking back on my career I've accomplished many things. But what I cherish more than any record that I hold, any fouth-quarter comeback, any win that I was involved in, what I cherish more is the relationships that I've made, the people I've worked with, the teammates I lined up beside, the opponents that I've competed against. But the friends and family, that's what I cherish most.

My son and I talked about what I was going to talk about in my speech and we want back and forth. He said, 'Dad, you need to tell everyone what you miss most about the game.' To tell you all what I miss most is for 17 years, running out of the tunnel knowing I was the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins and playing in front of the greatest fans in the world. That's what I miss most.

I'm going to start licking my fingers a little bit because you know what happens when I lick my fingers. Of course in the end, every quarterback wants one more thing. He wants one more Sunday in front of his fans with a football in his hand with one last chance to go deep. And I'm going deep.

Clayton, turn around and go deep right there. Go. You gotta run, man. He was much quicker in his younger days, you know what I'm saying? Much quicker.

Thank you, Mark. Thank you, Dolphins fans for coming. I'll remember this day the rest of my life.

Claire, kids, mom, dad, thank you.