The old canard is that winning a championship is the apex of American sports. Players that finish their careers without winning one–like John Stockton and Karl Malone in basketball–somehow have something missing no matter how many superlatives they achieved in their career. Recent Hall of Fame inductee Dan Marino begs to differ–he says that the Hall of Fame trumps a Super Bowl championship.
Marino was about as good as it gets at quarterback during his NFL career. He was a nine time Pro Bowler and finished with too many NFL records to count. He still holds a dozen or so with a number more tied with others. But he never won a Super Bowl. In fact, he only played in one Super Bowl–his Miami Dolphins lost 38–16 to Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIX. The mainstream sports media ‘take’ on Marino was that despite all of the records and personal accolades that his legacy was somehow ‘tainted’ due to the lack of a Super Bowl ring.
Apparently he doesn’t think so–at a recent appearance on behalf of the Pro Football Hall of Fame someone asked Marino if he’d trade his Hall of Fame membership for a Super Bowl ring. Marino quickly and emphatically answered ‘No’.
Marino may be genuine in his response or it could be self serving. Other players have been asked the same question with various responses. LaDainian Tomlinson said that the Hall of Fame was bigger than the Super Bowl. That may have something to do with the fact that he never won a Super Bowl but will very likely end up in the Hall of Fame. Tedy Bruschi said otherwise, suggesting that winning a Super Bowl was a bigger deal. Of course Buschi is a long shot for the Hall of Fame but does have three Super Bowl rings.
As with so much else in sports there are no absolutes. As much as the sports media and the ‘mainstream’ fan wants to think there are, there are no hard and fast rules about what is and isn’t in sports. That’s what makes it so entertaining.