30-Year Phiniversary: The Debut of Dan Marino

The day was September 19th. The year was 1983. The opponent was the Los Angeles Raiders and the scene was Monday Night Football. It was a day that would change the Miami Dolphins franchise forever and for the better.

The Dolphins did not win that humid, September night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but what they did witness was the debut of the greatest quarterback ever to take snaps for their franchise.

After Greg Pruitt's five-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave the Raiders a 27-0 lead, Dolphins head coach Don Shula decided that it was time to sit starting quarterback David Woodley. Woodley had helped lead Miami to the Super Bowl the previous season and was having far from a terrible night going 10-for-18 passing with 144 yards and an interception. But nevertheless, Shula decided that it was time to give the rookie from Pittsburgh a chance.

Dan Marino, a draft pick taken by Miami late in the first round, walked onto the field for the first time and while he was unable to rally the Dolphins from a 27-point hole, the sense that Miami had something special came immediately.

Marino finished the night 11-for-17 for only 90 yards passing, but led two scoring drives against a Los Angeles defense that had shut Miami out for three quarters. Marino's first career touchdown toss went to tight end Joe Rose from six yards out to make it 27-7.

Later in the quarter, Marino added a second touchdown pass, this one to a player he would end up playing the next 10 years with, wide receiver Mark Duper.

The Dolphins fell to 2-1 on the season that night losing 27-14, but the Marino era in Miami had arrived. Marino went on to finish his rookie season with 2,210 yards and 20 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions and the rest was history.

With Marino at the helm, Miami had just one losing season over his 17-year career. Marino finished his NFL career with 61,361 yards passing and 420 touchdowns, both were league records at the time of his retirement following the 1999 season. Today, the stadium where the Miami Dolphins play their home games sits on Dan Marino Boulevard with a statue of the great number 13 just outside of it.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook! Also, follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson