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The Steelers infamously passed on Dan Marino in the 1983 draft and selected Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabriel Rivera at No. 21 overall. It was a massive mistake by the Steelers, as Marino was right in their own backyard at Pitt and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Rivera didn't end up panning out either as he unfortunately was paralyzed in a car wreck during his rookie season. Driving while drunk, Rivera crossed into another lane and collided with another vehicle.
The Steelers picked Rivera over Marino because Chuck Noll wanted to rebuild from the defensive side as the team had done a decade earlier with Joe Greene. There were also unfounded rumors that Marino had a drug problem at Pitt, which caused him to fall to No. 27 with the Dolphins.
According to Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, Bill Cowher tried to talk Marino out of retiring to play for the Steelers in 2000. The Steelers ended up signing Kent Graham, who was benched after going 0-3 to start the season.
Bouchette noted that the Steelers were not happy with Kordell Stewart's play in 1999 after he threw 10 interceptions against six touchdowns and had a passer rating of 64.9 in a 6-10 campaign. Marino was 38 at the time and was coming off a season where he had a 12-17 touchdown-interception ratio. The Dolphins also got blown out 62-7 by the Jaguars in the divisional round game, which was Marino's final game.
It would have been something else if Marino played one last year with his hometown team after the Steelers passed on him in 1983. The Steelers went 9-7 in 2000, and with Marino on the downside of his career, it's unlikely that he would have turned them into a Super Bowl-caliber team. It still would have been interesting, however.
With not drafting Marino in 1983, it wasn't until the Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger at 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft that they replaced Terry Bradshaw. It was a 21-year span where the Steelers had the likes of Mark Malone, David Woodley, Scott Campbell, Steve Bono, Bubby Brister, Todd Blackledge, Neil O'Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Jim Miller, Stewart, Graham and Tommy Maddox start at quarterback. Let's hope it doesn't take 21 years for the Steelers to find Roethlisberger's replacement.
On this day in 2000, Marino announced his retirement.