Bob Kuechenberg, the Miami Dolphins' affluent All-Pro guard, says that if the relenting fates grant Dan Marino an exemption from injury he will "set every quarter-backing record there is to set" in the NFL before he's done. Marino "has it all," continues Kuechenberg. "The height, the gun, the incomparable quick release, the exceptional control, the great attitude. He's also in the right place at the right time, working for the right man." Kuechenberg says all this knowing that the time Marino has done in the NFL consists of one—count 'em, one—full season as a Dolphin.
If the above assessment sounds excessive, appreciate where it's coming from. Appreciate that Kuechenberg drives a Rolls-Royce and lives like a duke on Star Island in Miami Beach, because for 14 years he has been a star island himself in the Miami line, doing business within arm's length of some of the great quarter-backing in football. Though his father had himself shot from cannons for a living, Kuechenberg doesn't shoot his mouth off for his. When Kuechenberg talks, even D.F Shula listens.
So listen up. "We were playing the Jets in Shea," Kuechenberg says, "and I was on the sideline, taking a breather. We were inside their 30 and Marino had the ball, trying to look downfield with this defensive lineman in his face. I was standing next to Don Shula, and I blinked my eyes, and from the ball being in front of him with a guy in his face, it was in the end zone to [tight end] Joe Rose. In the blink of an eye! I thought, 'Did I really see that?' I glanced at Shula. He had the same look."
The football world got more than a blinking eyeful of Marino in 1983. As a rookie he beat David Woodley, fresh from a Super Bowl season with the Dolphins, right off the Miami roster. (Woodley lost the job in the fifth game and was traded to the Steelers in February.) Marino then led the AFC in passing (2,210 yards, 20 touchdowns) and took the Dolphins to the playoffs and himself to the Pro Bowl, all unprecedented achievements for an NFL novitiate. In March he was named the team's Most Valuable Player and—need you ask?—the league's Rookie of the Year.
When Shula drafted Marino in May 1983, he was advised by Pittsburgh sportswriter Pat Livingston that in "Danny," as Marino is called by those admiring men and adoring ladies who get to know him, he would have a quarterback with "the touch of a Sammy Baugh, the release of a Norm Van Brocklin, the arm of a Terry Bradshaw, the..." etc., etc. No reluctant dragon, Pat. Reckless praise doesn't pour so freely from Shula. He got through the 1983 season without conceding much more than how "amazing" it was that "Danny" (ahem) got sacked only 10 times and threw just six interceptions in 306 pass plays, and despite his inexperience was "never indecisive," even in the face of man-eating red-dogs and the best secondary schemes and ploys money could buy.
But when Shula was asked what Marino would have to do to improve in 1984, he practically bristled. "Maintain, you mean," he said. It was the Shula equivalent of a standing ovation.
Wally English, who coached the Dolphin quarterbacks in 1981-82 after coaching Marino for two years at Pitt and is now the head coach at Tulane, says Marino is simply "the best dropback passer" he ever saw. Two of Marino's teammates, defensive back Glenn Blackwood and wide receiver Nat Moore, compare him with Joe Namath and make it sound as if Namath should be flattered. They talk about the invaluable extra time Marino's hair-trigger release gives pass catchers to get open, and about his vast potential for "the big play." Big play is right, says quarterback Don Strock, the Dolphins' bullpen ace. Strock doesn't call Marino Danny. He calls him Touchdown. Foge Fazio, Marino's coach his last year at Pitt, says, "What we had to face after he left was whether there would be football after Danny."
Enough. What we are clearly up to in these first weighty paragraphs is the tying together, elephant fashion, of a train of thought that could carry us to the conclusion that Daniel Constantine Marino, 22, is on the verge of being the best quarterback in all of professional football this 1984 season. It's a tempting proposition, but first we must decide if he's the best quarterback in all of Miami.
We're not being funny. We're being dead serious. For Miami, lucky it, also happens to be where Bernie Kosar does his quarterbacking. Kosar plays for the Miami Hurricanes, the champions of college football. If you know anything about the Hurricane passing game under Howard Schnellenberger the last five years, and what Kosar did with it in 1983, you know we're talking about an ascending rocket every bit as spectacular as Marino. In some respects, Kosar is more spectacular. To wit: While Marino was barely out of college when he did his wondrous things in '83, Kosar was barely out of short pants, a redshirt freshman at Miami, not yet 20 years old.
One of the axioms of college football is that passing teams don't win national championships. Pitt almost did, with Marino and a cast of all-stars in 1981. Miami did, with a jangling medley of ragtags and raw talent and the sensational Kosar. Anyone who saw Kosar's husking of unbeaten, top-ranked Nebraska in January's Orange Bowl game—he passed for a bowl-record 300 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-30 upset—would agree that if nothing else, no freshman quarterback ever showed more aplomb under such pressure.
Aplomb? Schnellenberger says that Kosar went into that game "like a confident prizefighter who couldn't wait to get in the ring." When it was over, Kosar admits, he wandered around the Miami locker room "trying to look surprised." He wasn't surprised. "We did exactly what we were supposed to do," he says. "I knew we'd beat Nebraska. I was more surprised that we [came from nine points behind to] beat Florida State."
Earlier this summer, as he cleaned out his office shortly after accepting an offer to become coach and general manager of the USFL's Miami-bound Washington Federals, Schnellenberger was asked roughly the same question Shula was asked about Marino: What does Kosar need in 1984? "He needs a big man in this chair," he said, indicating the one new coach Jimmy Johnson now occupies at Miami, "because he's going to be so big himself." Kosar, Schnellenberger continued, "is the best on the [college] scene, an All-America if there ever was one. He may have been the best last year, too." Could he play in the pros right now? "Let me put it this way. There are quarterbacks who are playing in the pros who aren't as good as Bernie."
Kosar was hardly a red-hot prospect coming out of high school. Although raised in Boardman, Ohio, he didn't get a serious look from either Pitt or Ohio State, which are only 170 and 68 miles, respectively, from his home. What accelerated Kosar's development was exposure to Schnellenberger's passing attack, an advanced blend of intricately timed patterns and early-warning recognitions ("keys") of defensive alignments. Schnellenberger began to refine his passing game as offensive coordinator under Bear Bryant at Alabama. Schnellenberger coached Namath, Steve Sloan and Kenny Stabler at 'Bama, and he later installed that attack for the Dolphins as Shula's offensive coordinator in the early '70s. As a result, the Hurricanes' passing game is virtually identical to the Dolphins'—Johnson, whose specialty is defense, has said he plans to leave Schnellenberger's offense intact—even in nomenclature. The only noticeable difference is that the Dolphins throw more to the short side of the field, to take advantage of the room the pro leagues grant themselves by setting the hash marks farther from the sidelines.
Kosar says he "didn't realize how good" the Hurricane offense was until "I saw what other teams do. We do so much more. And this spring we were doing even more than we did last year."
While he was redshirted, Kosar got technical help from Earl Morrall, the 21-year NFL veteran who was a Hurricane assistant, and private strategy lessons from quarterback coach Marc Trestman, who volunteered his services after hours. Trestman found Kosar's aptitude for the game's finer points to be "awesome. He's just smarter than anybody else, that's all."
And when the editing on Kosar was complete, what did Schnellenberger have? A quarterback, he says, who was better at making the Miami offense hum as a freshman than Jim Kelly, Miami's No. 1 quarterback from 1979 until he separated his shoulder early in the '82 season, was as a senior. But not just better than Kelly, who as a Houston Gambler was the year's USFL MVP—"better than Namath at seeing the big picture. Better than Sloan or Stabler at the same stage, or even Bert Jones" when Jones came into the NFL with the Baltimore Colts in 1973 and Schnellenberger was his head coach.
The Miami offense is based loosely on the concept that if you send three receivers into a zone, "flooding" it, the defense can't possibly cover all of them with two men. Good receivers can beat one-on-one coverage. Even under duress, a good quarterback will read where the defense has left itself vulnerable and find the right receiver—not necessarily the most convenient one or the first one he sees open, a crucial difference. The best quarterbacks do this 75% of the time.
Miami had—and still has—the receivers, including the brilliant Eddie Brown, and Kosar found them 220 times in 1983 (breaking the school single-season completion record held by George Mira) for 17 touchdowns (breaking the record held by Kelly). And get this, says Schnellenberger, "Nine out of 10 times he threw to the right man. That's not 75 percent; that's 90 percent, and that is amazing." Under the circumstances, says Schnellenberger, "nobody in the country could stop us."
Morrall says he never saw a young man pick up the subtleties of the prostyle passing game so quickly—which, of course, is exactly what the Dolphins say about Marino. Six of Kosar's 17 touchdown passes came when he read blitz and threw to the receiver that such a tactic invariably must leave uncovered. Schnellenberger estimates that Kosar successfully checked off at the line of scrimmage on all but 8% of the plays in which he was blitzed. He's so adroit at making a defense pay for tipping off its intentions that in practice, says assistant athletic director Harold Allen, "we had to tell him, 'Now Bernie, no matter what you see, don't check off. Run the play we give you.' He can't stand not taking advantage of everything he sees. He's like a spider."
Obviously we aren't talking "typical" here. Typical would be to say, with some justification, that any comparison between a professional and a collegian is inappropriate, that there's a disparity in the caliber of the competition, the sophistication of defenses, and so forth. Apples and oranges. Even though Kosar's 2,629 passing yards in '83 exceeded by some 1,000 the yardage Marino threw for in either of his first two seasons at Pitt, if you had to choose between the two right now, you'd naturally give the nod to Marino, for no other reason than he has a head start and plays at the higher level.
Mercifully, no choice is necessary, except for those twice-blessed Miami fans who might have to budget their entertainment dollar. You pays your money and you takes your choice. But if it doesn't matter for now who's better, it does matter that we're talking about two atypical quarterbacks, two exceptional born-to-be quarterbacks who are amazingly alike and yet remarkably different, and who'll make football that much better this fall. And that's more than just significant. It's downright fun.
The similarities between the two are uncanny. To begin with, both are very tall—Kosar a shade over 6'5", Marino 6'4"—and exceptionally bright. Marino had a 3.0 average at Pitt and graduated with a B.S. in communications. Kosar has a 3.4 in economics and finance, takes honors courses and is a full year ahead of his class at Miami. By next fall, his junior season, he may well be enrolled in the Miami law school. He's also talking about applying for a Rhodes scholarship.
Both quarterbacks come from the same football-rich territory around Pittsburgh that laps into Ohio and has produced a number of outstanding signal-callers, including Namath (Beaver Falls, Pa.) and Kelly (East Brady, Pa.), and from solid Catholic family backgrounds with strong father figures. Both are "juniors." As the elder Bernie Kosar says, "I used to be Bernie Kosar. Now I'm Bernie Kosar's dad."
Both have sunbursts of curly hair, although Marino's is caramel-colored and thick as macaroni, and Kosar's is dark and tight. Marino worries about losing his because his father is almost bald. As a boy, says Kosar's mother, Geri, he went through a period when he "brushed it by the hour, trying to straighten it out." He now makes the best of it, especially in Miami where, together with eyes as dark as a raccoon's and a name you can't quite pin down, it gives him a handsome ethnic look that attracts invitations for appearances from the area's active Jewish community. "When they find out he's a Czechoslovakian Catholic, they're usually disappointed," says former Miami publicist Ron Steiner. "But we've had a lot of 'em say, 'Send him anyway. He looks.' "
Both are inspirational, eminently likable leaders who extract great outpourings of loyalty from their teammates. After Marino's first day of practice at Pittsburgh, Hugh Green, the All-America defensive end, went to Fazio, then a Panther assistant, and announced, "He's our quarterback!" One of Kosar's offensive linemen, Alvin Ward, said he was "prepared to die" for Bernie, and Kosar has no reason to doubt the claim. The Miami line often gives him eight to 10 seconds to throw, twice the normal allotment.
Similarly, too, both won their spurs early in 1983 in losing causes. In Marino's first start, against Buffalo in the sixth game, Miami fell behind 14-0. But then Marino rallied the Dolphins with a 14-for-20, 268-yard, three-touchdown second-half passing barrage that put Miami ahead 35-28 with three minutes to play. The Dolphins lost in overtime, but from the second quarter on, Marino could be seen slapping helmets and shouting encouragement. After the game, Shula was smiling. Shula doesn't usually smile when he loses, unless he knows something. In Marino's next eight starts the Dolphins won six times.
Kosar prevailed over the incumbent Miami quarterback, sophomore Kyle Vanderwende; and another whiz kid from his own class, Vinny Testaverde, to earn the starting job against Florida in the season opener. Before 74,000 screaming, hostile Gator fans in Gainesville, Kosar got hammered 28-3. But he also completed 25 passes, tying Mira's single-game completion record. Once when Kosar was knocked dizzy, he came to the sideline seething: "Those s.o.b.'s aren't going to put me out of this game! Where's the smelling salts?" Says Schnellenberger, "It's easy to show poise when you win. It's tougher when you're getting your rear end kicked in front of 74,000 fanatics. We came out of that game a lot more confident than we went in." Miami then won 11 in a row.
And, perhaps most appealingly, both Marino and Kosar have been armed with such healthy outlooks on life by their involved parents that they carry into games an almost supernatural equanimity. It's a detached kind of intensity, if that's not a contradiction in terms. Generals have that kind of detachment. So do revivalists and some of your better politicians.
Kosar's father is an industrial engineer who became an air compressor salesman when U.S. Steel closed its operations in Youngstown in 1980. He refused to move his family from suburban Boardman. Bernie I is a big, affable man with bursting good humor that bespeaks his ability to cope—"I probably should've been a salesman in the first place," he says—and what he calls an "if it feels good, do it" kind of love for sports. The father always kept the sprawling Kosar backyard mowed to the roots to accommodate the daily "blood-and-guts" pickup games, and he fed his sons a steady diet of coachly bromides: "Don't be afraid to fail.... History is made by people who get up one more time than they get knocked down," etc. Bernie II and Brian, 16, his brother, prefer the one about feeling
Bernie I, however, pushed academics and "other interests," too, and refused to let Bernie II play organized football until the seventh grade. He said it was "ridiculous" to be rigidly structured too early, because if it didn't get you hurt, it could still "burn you out." Consequently, Bernie II has no trouble with his priorities, except for finding time for all of them. He says he has "no plans for a pro career," not because he might not want one but because he knows a lot could happen between now and then. "All you need," he says, "is for one of these..."—and he points to his knee, which God didn't make for football—and shrugs.
All of which isn't to say that Kosar lacks commitment. He just spreads it around. If anything, his zeal is relentless. According to Trestman, in quarterback meetings Kosar carries every tactical problem "one step further" and won't abide incomplete answers. But fear of failing isn't what drives him; it's the desire to achieve, a subtle difference. After his second day in first grade, Bernie ran home and announced he wasn't going back. "They still haven't taught me how to read," he said, pouting. His mother, a registered nurse, says that in the years that followed it wasn't uncommon on school days to find him studying at the breakfast table at 6 a.m.
For a living, Marino's father drives a newspaper truck in Pittsburgh. He never had much money, but he had time for his children, and when people ask Danny II who his hero is—or, for that matter, who the coach was who molded him—he points to his dad. He says it wasn't that the old man was a great athlete, or knew that much about x's and o's, and "he never really pushed me to play anything." But every day after school "he was there to throw the football, or to hit me ground balls—two or three hundred ground balls in a row, if I wanted. He loved it and so did I. He had one rule: 'Play because you enjoy it, not because I want you to. If you don't want to play, that's O.K. We'll do something else.' "
Danny I impressed on Danny II that losing isn't life-or-death, that the pressure of games "is nothing" in the scheme of things. He says, "Pressure is having six kids, and half of them sick, and you've been laid off at the mill. That's pressure. So if you lose, don't worry about it." Marino never lost much (only five times in 47 games in college), but his 9-3 senior year was a disappointment to Pitt fans primed for a national championship. When, as Fazio says, "We didn't win every game by 40 points, and he threw a few more interceptions [23 in all] than he might have," the critics swarmed.
At Pitt Stadium, three years of unremitting cheers curdled into boos. The media batted around innuendos of drug use—rumors that reached Shula, who checked them out with Fazio before the draft. Fazio had already found them unsubstantiated. "Nobody in the media asked me, but I'd of told them," says Marino. "The answer was 'no.' But we weren't doing as well as we should have, and they had to blame something."
Under duress, says Fazio, Marino tried "to do it all himself, and sometimes when you do that you force passes and get intercepted. It becomes an ego thing. But it wasn't Danny's fault at all, and the criticism went from bad to worse. He had every reason to be bitter over it, especially when five quarterbacks went ahead of him in the first round of the [NFL] draft. But Danny never got down. He said he looked forward to going to Miami. You had to think, 'What a wonderful foundation this kid has, to be that strong.' "
Danny I says the turmoil of that senior season at Pitt was "the best thing that ever happened" to Danny II. "He learned once and for all that you could lose and it wouldn't kill you." Shortly after signing with Miami for an estimated $2 million over four years, Marino had a $4,500 satellite dish erected in his family's backyard so that Danny I, his wife, Ronnie, and their two daughters could watch all the Dolphin games. He wanted to give them more, but his father drew the line. "We don't need anything," Danny I said. On agreeing to endorse a line of athletic shoes, Danny II made the manufacturer put a clause in the contract stating that for every touchdown he scores, or TD pass he throws, three pairs of shoes will be sent free to children of out-of-work mill hands.
As for the differences between Marino and Kosar, they're just as intriguing. First, as physical specimens they may soar to impressive heights, but their scaffolding is notably unequal. Marino has a body Fisher only wishes it could make. He enhances it with weights but carries his 214 pounds easily, like the natural athlete he is. In casual dress he leans to sleeveless shirts (his biceps bulge) and is a vision of svelte in ads for a fancy Miami haberdasher. His suits fit like gloves, and his blue eyes flash. He has star quality.
Kosar, on the other hand, looks as if he's put together out of pickup sticks, and when he moves it appears that the sticks will tumble in all directions. He lifts weights, too, but still weighs only 209, and he's the first to admit there's nothing permanent-looking about him. He describes himself as "klutzy," with two left feet that get him no place in a hurry and two arms that make small circles when he scrambles. He tells Trestman he has to have a good year, "because I'm not handsome like you, and the girls will never get too excited about this body."
Actually, neither Marino nor Kosar lacks confidence. They brim with it. It just comes in markedly different styles. Marino likes attention. While still in college he was quoted as saying that he didn't think anybody at any level could pass any better than he, and he admits he "still felt that way coming into the NFL. Maybe that's wrong, but it's the way I felt. I don't think I'm cocky. I just think with experience you come to expect things of yourself."
In a highlight film of his career that was shown at a testimonial dinner for him last year, Marino appears on camera, full frame, with a few earnest opening remarks about how he'd like to be remembered as a team man who worked as hard as he could, and as a team leader, etc. He finishes the statement, but the camera is still rolling when he turns to someone off the set, grins gorgeously and says, "How's that?" Watching his performance on a tape replay, he grins again at that part. Later on, the tape shows the spectacular 33-yard touchdown pass to Panther tight end John Brown that beat Georgia in the last minute of the 1982 Sugar Bowl. "Nice catch," says Marino. Then a deliberate pause, and another big grin. "Nice throw, too."
Kosar, by contrast, shuns attention. At the Hurricanes' Orange Bowl victory parade, the players rode in open cars, wearing their game jerseys. Kosar wore a pullover and dark glasses, as if trying to avoid recognition, a futile gesture. He dons the same disguise, adding a cap that he pulls low over his eyes, when he goes out with friends.
Yet, when discussing the Nebraska game, Kosar says he wanted the Cornhuskers to make the two-point conversion that would have put them ahead 32-31 with 48 seconds to go. He says their missing it clouded the issue unnecessarily, and he'd have preferred to clear it up right away. "There was plenty of time for us to at least get into position for a field goal," he says. "We would have done it, too, the way we were moving the ball. Forty-eight seconds was more than enough time. It would've been fun."
Although Kosar tries doggedly to put football into perspective, the game is Marino's true love, and he puts it first. He passed up a free trip to Italy in July because he didn't want to report late to the Dolphins' training camp. "I can go to Italy another time," he says. Kosar passed up an invitation to talk about Miami's Orange Bowl victory the next day on Good Morning America because he thought 6:30 a.m. was meant for other things. His roommate, Paul Bertucelli, one of Kosar's bodyguards at tackle, says you can't get him to rehash a game "unless you do it right afterward. He's always looking ahead to something else."
The dark side of these personality traits is that in enjoying his prominence Marino sometimes seems boastful, and by only tolerating his prominence, Kosar sometimes appears aloof, or even snooty. A few weeks after the Nebraska victory, Kosar only begrudgingly gave PM Magazine a brief interview, because, according to Steiner, "He didn't want to reveal too much of himself. Bernie won't even watch football on television because he can't see what he wants to see [the defensive secondary reacting to the pass patterns], so why bother?"
Kosar analyzes almost everything—the stock market, The Wall Street Journal, politics, even the words of the songs of his favorite rock group, the Who ("They tell you a lot about life and stuff," he says). In June, when Miami was searching for a replacement for Schnellenberger, Kosar spent a good deal of time "trying to separate the facts from the b.s." He found it "all very interesting, seeing people maneuvering other people." He turns down many requests for appearances, but he accepted one in particular because a magician was going to introduce him by having him come out of a puff of smoke. He went, and watched. "Now I know how they do it," he told Steiner afterward.
In almost every respect, Marino's candor is charming; he makes you glad to know him. But he goes over the line just often enough to make people who care about him cringe. Pitt publicist Jim O'Brien lectured him on a recent flight from Miami to Pittsburgh when Marino kept putting his sneakered feet in the aisle against the flight attendant's wishes. "She warned him three times," recalls O'Brien. "And then, when the man behind him complained that Danny's seat was leaning back too far and interfering with his lunch, Marino said, 'If I put it up, it'll interfere with my sleep.' It was a small thing, but that's the side of Danny that can be misinterpreted."
That side springs from his being from the "neighborhoods," from the row houses of the tough, well-integrated Oakland district of inner-city Pittsburgh. In Oakland the American flag flies from every third house, the Blessed Mother hangs in replica on every second door, and on Memorial Day the barbecue smoke from the tiny backyards mingles democratically and the porches teem with beer drinkers. Billy Conn grew up in Oakland, and Willie Stargell lived next door to Marino's flinty grandmother on Frazier Street when he first came to Pittsburgh. As a kid, Marino played catch with Stargell in the streets and down at Frazier Field, where the football field is 80 yards long.
It's a neighborhood of horselaughs, heavy-handed digs and no sacred cows, Marino, included. He likes Oakland because they "treat me the same, no matter what," and if Miami was a good thing for him, Oakland—Pittsburgh, actually—nourishes him still. "What Danny is is a 'Pittsburgh guy,' " says O'Brien, who's one himself. "A Pittsburgh guy is a shot and a beer guy. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty. He walks with a certain air, but he's not a put-on." He says "you'ns" or "youse" to address more than one person because, logically, there is no plural for "you" in English. "He's a guy who'd rather be with his buddies than a beautiful girl," says O'Brien, "and in Dan's case, he's a guy who didn't get his driver's license until he was 18. The neighborhood was where he wanted to be and you didn't need wheels to be there."
Marino now drives a Corvette—a gold one last year, a blue one now—but for all his self-assurance he has acclimatized himself to Miami less convincingly than Kosar, the introspective Ohio boy from out where the sidewalk ends. Kosar now sports a year-round tan. Marino, still pale, recently gave up his apartment on the beach in Fort Lauderdale to move inland, nearer the Dolphin camp. "I didn't like the beach," he says. Last April he went to a Club Med in the Bahamas, but after a day packed up and headed back to Pittsburgh. Fazio was having his annual leukemia benefit golf tournament at the Pittsfield Club. "Danny said he couldn't make it," says Fazio, "but I looked up and there he was. He said, 'Club Med's not for me.' "
Marino is building a house just north of Miami, having endorsed a development that will give him a $100,000 discount. He says it'll be "great" for having the folks down. In May, Billy Sabo, one of his childhood buddies, moved in for the summer, "or for as long as I can stand him." Sabo—animated, fast-talking, delightfully irreverent—says he's there because Danny "can't get a girl." He says they used to fight all the time as kids, especially on the public golf course at Schenley Park, "where Danny was always teeing up in the rough." Marino laughs. He enjoys Sabo. He calls it "bringing Oakland to Miami."
Considering everything, what has really been brought to Miami is a two-man concentration of quarterbacking talent that may well be unprecedented, and is certainly impossible to ignore. Because if we know one thing about quarterbacks, among all the things we do not know, it is that the best ones find a way to win. More than anything else, says Kuechenberg, "Marino is a winner."
And, says Schnellenberger, so is Kosar, on whom he impressed his own favorite bromide: "You do whatever it takes to win. If somebody says, 'What do I need to do?' you say, 'Whatever it takes.' " Kosar went to Schnellenberger's office "to talk" before the coach made his decision to leave the Hurricanes for the USFL. When presented the terms of the offer, Kosar told Schnellenberger they were too good to turn down. He says it wasn't a matter of encouraging his coach to leave, it was a "practical consideration." After all, he says, "we'll win without him. We'll do what it takes." Schnellenberger agrees.
In May, Kosar (left) and Marino spoke at a Miami Herald annual banquet for the premier high school athletes in Dade County.
Especially for a 20-year-old, Kosar, who passed for 2,629 yards in '83, has an uncanny ability to read defenses and find the right receiver.
The first rookie to lead the AFC in passing, Marino, who threw for 2,210 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, has a hair-trigger release.
Marino looks up to his dad; Brian and Bernie look up to their 9'6" "dunking" hoop.
Shula will be happy if Marino can just "maintain"—that is, play as well as he did last year.
Kosar, who covets privacy, doesn't like to reveal much more about himself than his name.
Marino should've teed it up—as he used to do in the rough.
A finance and economics major who's a year ahead of his class academically, Kosar may be in Miami's law school by his junior season.