From Parkview Avenue to Canton

The next John Elway. The next Michael Jordan. The next Wayne Gretzky. No matter what the sport or the time, the next greatest athlete will forever be labeled as the greatest thing to come before him.

Admittingly, their may be another Jordan, Elway or Gretzky in the future, but one man has somehow surpassed comparisons to quarterbacks to come.

And that's probably because no one will ever come close to being the man he became.

A hero to so many and forever enshrined in the hearts of even more, Marino will never be forgotten on or off the field.

Unlike the superstars of today, you could seemingly touch Marino and his story. In essence, the 6-foot-2, gunslinger was just a kid with a ball and a talent.

Trained on the streets of Pennsylvania, Marino was a household phenom since his high school days, where he shattered state high school passing records. After a highly contested recruiting battle, Marino landed at hometown Pitt, where he led the university to national prominance in the early 80's and thus making him a legend to the surrounding area.

"My dream started right there on Parkview Avenue in Oakland, and I stayed there for 21 years," Marino said. "Not many people can say they went to the same grade school, high school and college, all in the same neighborhood."

The NFL's all-time leader in passing yards (61,361), touchdown passes (420), attempts (8,358) and completions (4,967), and just one victory from tying John Elway's career victory total, Marino's legacy continues on each passing year.

Already etched in Pittsburgh folklore, Monday, he etched his name into new company.

After 17 years of re-writing history books as a Miami Dolphin and a college career that brought Pitt into the national forefront, Marino was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"Individually, I get the honor of being inducted in the Hall of Fame," Marino explained, "but that's what gets me so emotional, when you look into the crowd and you see fellow teammates, coaches ... mom and dad, my wife and kids, all the people who were close to me and involved with me with everything you did on a daily basis through your career. When it's all done, football is a team game. It's not tennis, it's not golf. You have to rely on other people."

Unlike many quarterbacks that are considered the next 'big thing,' Marino was it - and fast. He threw 48 touchdowns in his second season in the NFL, a league record that stood until last season, when Peyton Manning threw 49.

He landed in the Super Bowl, in a year that made him resemble superman. But those who followed #13, knew he was anything but.

Perhaps that's why it's so hard to ever draw a comparison. There is just simply one, Marino.


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