Like he did on the football field, NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino covered lots of ground quickly during his Friday keynote at ASI Orlando, recalling his early life in Pittsburgh, his greatest sports moments, his charity and business work, and even his career in movies.
Video: Interview with Dan Marino
“The best advice I can give you is have passion for something, that’s really the key to success,” Marino said. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”
Before he found the glitz and glamour of South Beach, Marino grew up in the working-class Steel City. His dad was a truck driver and his mom was a school crossing guard. “Seeing my dad work nights and my mom wake up early and go out there in the cold, that definitely showed me what work ethic was,” Marino said.
Despite starring at Central Catholic High School and collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh, Marino slipped to the end of the first round of the NFL draft in 1983. “I had teams tell me they were going to pick me in the top five,” Marino said. “I would’ve been motivated regardless, but it was something I thought about throughout my career.”
Drafted by Don Shula’s Dolphins, Marino went on to become one of the most prolific passers ever. He won the NFL’s MVP award in only his second season, was selected to nine Pro Bowls and broke scores of NFL records – 11 of which are still active. Of course, the one achievement Marino never realized was winning a Super Bowl. “It’s the one feeling – winning a championship – that I didn’t get,” he said. “But I got to play 17 years, and a lot of guys only get to play two, so I wouldn’t trade that career.”
See a Facebook gallery from Dan Marino's keynote!
For most of Friday’s keynote, Marino took questions from the ASI audience. Marino’s wit was on full display. Asked who the best current QB is, Marino said: “I’d go with Aaron Rodgers. Tom Brady’s pretty good, too, especially when the balls are deflated a little bit.” Asked about appearing in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective alongside Jim Carrey, Marino joked: “I take full credit for his career. If it weren’t for me, nobody would know who the hell he is.”
Marino touched on serious topics, too, including his son Michael’s autism. Marino and his wife, Claire, opened a foundation in 1992 that’s distributed more than $20 million to help children with neurodevelopment disabilities. “Michael’s done really well. He has an apartment, he has a girlfriend. As an athlete, it’s important to give back to the community. I think all of us can help in our own way.”
Finally, Marino talked about his transition from pro athlete to businessman. Marino is a currently a part-owner of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, has started a winery called Passing Time and appears in ads for weight-loss product Nutrisystem. “I’ve had some successes and some things that didn’t work out so well. But for me it’s all been about relationships – and that goes for sports, business and life.”