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Dolphins legend Dan Marino lists his greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time; one surprising name makes the cut

NFL legend Dan Marino recently offered his own list of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Marino, a regular on any list that includes the best to ever play at his position, didn’t include himself though added a name that might come as a surprise.   

Marino was specifically asked to name his Quarterback Mount Rushmore, but the former Miami Dolphins signal-caller offered five names instead of the customary four. 

“To me, [Joe] Montana and [John] Elway, Jim Kelly — those guys, all those guys,” Marino told Sports Illustrated before Super Bowl LVIII. “Patrick Mahomes, he’s going to be considered one of the best ever, too. You got Tom Brady, you got a lot of guys. So, there’s a lot to pick from there.”

Brady and Montana being part of Marino’s list shouldn’t surprise anyone. The two are largely considered to be among the best quarterbacks in NFL history, largely because of their success in Super Bowls. Brady has three more Super Bowl wins (seven) and twice as many Super Bowl starts (10) than any other quarterback. Montana was 4-0 in Super Bowls and was the first player to win Super Bowl MVP three times. 

Elway and Mahomes also shouldn’t be surprises. Elway’s five Super Bowl starts is second only to Brady. He lost his first three Super Bowls with inferior teams before ending his career with back-to-back titles with the Broncos. Elway was a versatile quarterback who made plays with his arm as well as with his legs. He also had a knack for engineering game-winning drives. 

Marino called Mahomes “a really special player” during a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports prior to the Super Bowl. Mahomes showed that again against the 49ers while joining Montana and Brady as the only players to win three Super Bowl MVP trophies. Mahomes also became one of just five starting quarterbacks with at least three Super Bowl wins. 

“He’s an amazing athlete, first of all,” Marino said when asked to compare his game with Mahomes. “I was a pretty good athelte, but not the kind of athlete that he is as far as how he runs the ball, makes throws from different levels, creates on his own. 

“For me, I was able to do that a little bit, but mostly, my stuff was from the pocket.”

Kelly’s inclusion, however, is a surprise. While he is a Hall of Famer, Kelly is often overlooked when the topic of all-time quarterbacks are discussed. That may stem from the fact that Kelly came up short in each of his four trips to the Super Bowl with the Bills. Kelly also had a relatively short NFL career (11 years) when compared to his contemporaries. 

Like Marino and Elway, Kelly is a member of the NFL’s famous 1983 quarterback class. That likely contributed to Kelly making Marino’s list, along with the fact that he was a great quarterback in his own right. Kelly ran Buffalo’s hurry-up offense to perfection while becoming the first quarterback to start in four consecutive Super Bowls. 

Three notable players who didn’t make the cut are Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning … and Marino himself; the former nine-time Pro Bowler refused to include his own name and said someone else would have to put him there. 

Unitas is unanimously considered the best quarterback during the NFL’s first half-century. Manning owned several NFL passing records at the time of his retirement. He capped off his career by becoming the first starting quarterback to win Super Bowls with multiple franchises. 

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