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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who Dat? Drew Dat! In a Landslide….

There have been five single season passing performances, by four men, in NFL history in which a quarterback has passed for 5,000 or more yards in a single season: Dan Marino (1984), Drew Brees (2008), Drew Brees (2011), Tom Brady (2011), and Matthew Stafford (2011). Prior to this season, Hall of Famer Dan Marino’s record of 5,084 yards passing stood for 27 years. It was then eclipsed twice in six days, with Brady surpassing the milestone in Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills.

In one season, three quarterbacks surpassed the 5,000 passing yard milestone, which had only been surpassed twice in the prior 91 years of NFL football. Dan Marino’s record stood for over a quarter century and two players, albeit future Hall of Famers themselves, broke the record in the same season.

The game has changed very favorably toward the passing game over the last three decades. However, Drew Brees did not just break the record, but shattered it by roughly 400 yards. He’s crossed the 5,000 yard plateau not once, but twice, coming just 16 yards short of Marino in 2008. Drew Brees is the reigning high-octane passing king of NFL quarterbacks, with all due respect to the achievements of Brady, Stafford, and Eli Manning (who was just short of 5,000 yards in 2011).


This is not going to be a piece singing the praises of Drew Brees and modern quarterbacks, though such a comparative piece is forthcoming. Today, I thought it could be interesting and fun to take a look at how the sports world has changed since Dan Marino’s ground breaking 1984 season, en route to an AFC Championship and an appearance in Super Bowl XIX for him and the Miami Dolphins.


NFL’s leading passer

1984: Dan Marino
2011: Drew Brees

What has changed: If a defender dove at Marino’s knees, he’d get a high five from his teammates. If a defender dives at Brees knees, the referee will pelt him with a penalty flag.

What is the same: Both guys are winners. Both guys also have monosyllabic first names starting with “D” (if you count Marino’s name as “Dan” and not “Daniel”), but that’s not quite as relevant.

The night Drew Brees broke the record, Saints coach Sean Payton reportedly said, "Dan Marino was a bad mother (shut yo' mouth)!" I couldn't agree more.

Defending Super Bowl Champion

1984: Los Angeles Raiders
2011: Green Bay Packers

What has changed: There are no NFL teams in Los Angeles, for starters. In addition, Raiders owner Al Davis is no longer with us.

The NFL has evolved into the “No Fun League”. The teams often celebrated touchdowns with several offensive players meeting in the end zone, often punctuated with a dance.. Today, if Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers does much more than his “Discount Double Check”, his kicker can expect to tee off from the 20 yard line on the ensuing kickoff.

What is the same: Brett Favre isn’t with the Packers.

Also in 1984, as is today, it was still completely inappropriate for Brett Favre to make Jenn Sterger the object of his post game perspirations. I'm sure it was illegal, too. 2


Most Valuable Player

1984: Larry Bird
2011: Derrick Rose

What has changed: There hasn’t been an American white guy to win the MVP since Bird. That, and, in 1984, there was no Derrick Rose (born 1988)…at all.

What’s the same: There is no more Larry Bird in the NBA, but the “Larry Bird Rule” is alive and well!

Another thing that has changed, for the better: look at those shorts! 3

NBA Champion

1984: Boston Celtics
2011: Dallas Mavericks

What has changed: The Mavericks were rubbed out by the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs in 1984. The Mavericks swept the Lakers in the second round of the 2011 playoffs.

The Heatles? Fughettaboutit! There wasn’t even a team called the Miami Heat! LeBron James wasn’t even born the night that the Celtics won the NBA title in 1984.

What is the same: In 1984, David Stern was in charge of the NBA. David Stern is still in charge of the NBA, with an iron fist.

LeBron circa late 1984. 4
NCAA Basketball

NCAA Champion (Men’s)

1984: Georgetown Hoyas
2011: Connecticut Huskies

What has changed: Today, there is a little arc around both ends of the court starting and ending at opposite ends of each baseline. If a shot is made from behind that line, the team making the basket scores three points. Also, teams are required to shoot the ball before a little clock on the back of the backboard reaches zero or else lose possession of the ball.

What is the same: In 1984, the Georgetown Head Coach was named John Thompson. Today, the Georgetown Head Coach is named John Thompson.

This was how most NCAA courts looked before 1986. 5

Major League Baseball

World Series Champion

1984: Detroit Tigers
2011: St. Louis Cardinals

What has changed: There are 30 MLB teams today instead of 26. There were double the playoff teams this year as there were in 1984. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson is no longer with us.

What is the same: Just about everything else. There aren’t a whole lot of changes in baseball…ever. Most bad calls stood because there was no instant replay available to correct them. Today the same is true.

Games often ran long, in part, because there was no pitching clock, as there is in college baseball today. Today, there is still no pitching clock. Baseball and technology haven’t meshed well over the years.

Fans have been screaming but MLB Commissioner Bud Selig isn't listening. He is supposed to be retiring after the 2012 season. I will help him pack! 6 

Batting Champion

1984: Tony Gwynn
2011: Miguel Cabrera

What has changed: Have you looked at Tony Gwynn? Ever? You can go to sleep at night knowing that the batting champ did not have any help from steroids! Actually, have you looked at Miguel Cabrera? He’s probably steroid-free, too.

Nobody is ever going to accuse the elder Gwynn of juicing. 7
What has not changed: In 1984 Tony Gwynn’s goal is to help his team win the National League West. Today, one of the goals of Tony Gwynn (Junior) is to help his team (the Dodgers in this case) win the N.L. West. As late as 2010, I could have said, “Tony Gwynn plays for the San Diego Padres” and left it at that. Darn free agency…!

NO-BO-DY! He kind of looks like what the Notorious B.I.G. would look like today. 8
Some other things have stayed the same. In 1984, Pete Rose was not eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Today, he is still not eligible for the Hall of Fame!

♫ "Never gonna get it; never gonna get it! Ne-ver gonna get it never gonna get it. ... Never gonna get it; ever get it! Ooo!" ♪♪ 9
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1) Image from; source of quote: WWL 870 radio, New Orleans.
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