NFL legend Dan Marino offers words of wisdom for Jets' Aaron Rodgers

Dan Marino once tore his Achilles before playing five more NFL seasons. He has some wisdom and perspective to offer New York Jets QB Aaron Rodgers.

Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins
Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins / RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Marino spent 17 historic seasons in the NFL, all with the Miami Dolphins. He won MVP in 1984 — his sophomore campaign — and ended his career with nine Pro Bowl appearances. His prolific production in a far less QB-friendly era paved the way for today's best players. Every elite QB owes a debt to Marino.

One could draw parallels between between Marino and New York Jets QB Aaron Rodgers. Both are arguably the greatest arm talents of their generation, blessed with inhuman strength and pinpoint accuracy. Marino holds the individual season passing record between the two (5,084), but Rogders has more seasons (10) with over 4,000 passing yards than Marino (6).

Like Marino, Rodgers spent an uncommonly long period of time with the same team. He was in Green Bay for 18 years, carving out his own niche in the Packers' franchise lore. Rodgers eventually left for the Jets this summer, but like Marino, he will forever be synonymous with a single franchise.

And now, there's a more somber connection between Rodgers and the Hall of Famer out of Pittsburgh. Marino tore his Achilles in 1993. Rodgers tore his Achilles on Monday night, four snaps into his Jets tenure. Suddenly, the most anticipated debut in a decade was kaput and Rodgers' career entered an unfortunate limbo.

Marino recently appeared on FanSided's 'Stacking the Box' podcast to discuss Rodgers, his own Achilles experience, and more while promoting his new PepsiCo 'Unretirement' campaign. You can watch the full interview with Marino below.

Dan Marino offers words of wisdom about Achilles injury to Jets' Aaron Rodgers

'Stacking the Box' host Sterling Holmes first sets the stage. Marino is one of the greatest of his generation, a true football singularity who changed how the QB position was perceived. Between 1983 and 1999, few were better at slinging the pigskin.

When Holmes asks Marino if his MVP season in 1984 would be replicated or even expanded upon in today's NFL, where defenders aren't allowed so much leniency on the contact front, Marino doesn't really hesitate.

"I don't have to prove it now, so I'll say yeah, [I could have passed for] 6,000 yards," he says. "No problem."

Those are bold words. The NFL record for single-season passing yardage belongs to Peyton Manning, who tossed 5,477 yards in 2013, his first season with the Denver Broncos. Marino held the record for a while, though, and he still stands as one of only seven players all-time to reach the 5,000-yard mark (Jameis Winston, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger also inhabit the exclusive club).

"We were doing things differently and we did things when the rules were different," Marino opines. "That's what made it special... what we were doing, what we did then, we would do it now."

Then, Holmes' questions turn to a less comfortable topic — but one that's all too relevant. Marino's Achilles injury was a difficult blow to the legendary QB, and it resulted in him playing the last five years of his career on a bad knee. Still, he was productive in the years following his injury and he offered sage words of wisdom to Aaron Rodgers.

"When it happens, it's frustrating. I'm sure Aaron Rodgers went through a lot this offseason to get ready and play and be part of the Jets... It's devastating. It was devastating for me."

Rodgers faces a long road to recovery. The 39-year-old has already been ruled out for the remainder of the 2023 season, leading many to question how much longer his historic career will last. Marino, however, wants to assure Rodgers and the NFL fandom that he can make it back.

"You can come back and you can be very good," Marino emphasizes. "Aaron, if he wants to, will work very hard to come back and play again. He's been a special player, it's a shame because there was a lot of buildup for him this year... [I just want] to let him know that it's possible to come back and continue a great career."

One has to imagine Rodgers will take his time to process the gravity of such a severe injury so late in his career. Rodgers waited several years for his chance to lead a title contender outside the confines of Green Bay, but the football gods have cruelly snatched it away in mere moments. For now, at least. But we know Rodgers loves football and we know he's capable of remarkable comebacks. He missed seven games in 2013 and nine games in 2017, both due to a fractured collarbone. This Achilles injury, however, is a whole new beast.

"The rehab is the biggest part," warns Marino. "It's very tedious... a slow process."

But, that tedium can yield major rewards. If Rodgers wants to push his NFL career into his 40s, the Jets will welcome him back with open arms. He is a future Hall of Famer who deserves a proper swan song. NFL fans the world over — and especially Dan Marino — will surely hope for a swift and prolific return.

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