Marino, S. Young awarded Hall of Fame passes

2 quarterbacks headline Class of 2005

Friedman, Pollard also gain entry

Pro Football

February 06, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dan Marino and Steve Young, two of the greatest quarterbacks in recent NFL history, sat side by side, and for the first time, discussed their careers as Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, dishing out a number of jokes at each other's expense along the way.

While both displayed total control on the field, the duo used humor to ease their emotion over being the headliners in the Class of 2005, which also includes quarterback Benny Friedman, considered the first great passer, and running back/coach Fritz Pollard, a pioneer of professional football.

Friedman and Pollard were nominated by the senior committee and received at least 80 percent of the final vote from the selection panel that includes 39 writers and broadcasters. Baltimore native George Young, a five-time NFL Executive of the Year winner, did not make it past the original 15 finalists.

Marino, who played 17 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, and Steve Young, who spent 13 years with the San Francisco 49ers, both made it in their first year of eligibility, virtual sure bets because of their revolutionary play.

Marino is the most prolific passer in league history, throwing for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns.

A nine-time Pro Bowl player, Marino is also the only player to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season (5,084 in 1984) and has more career completions (4,967) and attempts (8,358) than any other quarterback.

He led the Dolphins to a Super Bowl 20 years ago - a season looked upon as one of the greatest in NFL history when he threw a then-record 48 touchdowns and was the league's Most Valuable Player - but lost his only appearance in the championship game.

"This is an incredible honor, and it's humbling," Marino said. "To have an opportunity to go into the Hall of Fame, it's humbling considering there are only 28 quarterbacks ever inducted."

Marino did it with marksman-like precision, firing lasers from the pocket, often where only his receivers could catch it.

Young, who played his first two NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was a different sort. Young, the first-left handed quarterback to enter the Hall of Fame in the modern era, threw for 33,124 yards but also ran for 4,239.

While Marino started as a rookie, Young toiled as a backup for five of his first six seasons in the NFL, fighting an image that he was nothing more than a scrambler before finally unseating Joe Montana in 1992. He went on to be a seven-time Pro Bowl player and a two-time league MVP.

"I came in the league, and people who moved around, scramblers, were called mad scramblers," Young said. "That's because nobody thought they could be efficient in the pocket, that they could actually overcome what they thought was a deficiency - their proclivity to head out of the pocket too early and do something else on their own."

Young shredded that idea by shredding defenses in the mid-1990s, the climax coming in a record-setting, six-touchdown performance in a 49-26 Super Bowl win over the San Diego Chargers 10 years ago.

"I've had a unique road, starting with being left-handed," Young said. "I had a college coach who said he never wanted to coach a lefty quarterback. There is nothing easy about getting here, and I'm grateful."

Sitting on a podium and accepting the nomination also proved emotionally challenging for both, but especially so for Marino. Marino, who had his entire family, coach Don Shula and receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper in attendance, appeared to get choked up early while talking about his past, and he got so twisted trying to pronounce one word he asked Young for help.

"This is pretty special," Marino said.

Marino and Young both paid homage to Friedman, who paved the way for the modern quarterback. Friedman threw for 20 touchdowns in 1929, then a league record. In his eight seasons, Friedman led the league in touchdowns passes four times.

Pollard, who also played eight seasons starting in 1919, was the first black head coach in the NFL in 1921.

"We stand on their backs, there is no question about that," Young said.

Two players who made the final six - New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson and Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin - did not get the required 80 percent vote. It was Irvin's first year of eligibility.

2005 Hall of Fame class

Dan Marino

Quarterback, 6-4, 218

NFL career

1983-1999, Miami Dolphins.

Highlights

Earned starting role early in rookie season (1983).

Guided the Dolphins to 12-4 record and AFC East title and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

Named to nine Pro Bowls.

In 1984 led Dolphins to 14-2 record and division crown.

In 1984, he became first player to pass for 5,000 yards in a season (5,084).

His 48 touchdown passes in a season (broken this season by Indianapolis' Peyton Manning) obliterated previous mark (36).

By season's end, set six league records and named NFL's MVP.

In 1984, earned only trip to Super Bowl.

In his career, completed 4,967 of 8,358 passes for 61,343 yards and 420 touchdowns.

Steve Young

Quarterback, 6-2, 205

NFL career

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