MIAMI — Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino is changing a botched play called in a huddle with his attorneys.
One day after being the biggest and most recognizable name on a new concussion lawsuit against the NFL, the former Miami Dolphins quarterback issued a statement saying he is withdrawing from the suit.
“Within the last year I authorized a claim to be filed on my behalf just in case I needed future medical coverage to protect me and my family in the event I later suffered from the effects of head trauma,” Marino’s statement reads.
“In so doing I did not realize I would be automatically listed as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NFL. I have made the decision it is not necessary for me to be part of any claims or this lawsuit and therefore I am withdrawing as a plaintiff effective immediately.
“I am sympathetic to other players who are seeking relief who may have suffered head injuries. I also disclaim any references in the form complaint of current head injuries.”
It should be noted this twist comes amid a backlash on social media and elsewhere that questioned Marino’s motives and timing for filing the suit.
The filing happened only three months after Marino was fired by CBS Sports, which is a broadcast partner with the NFL.
Other high-profile former quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Boomer Esiason have declined to join the thousands of plaintiffs in any concussion suit against the NFL while they have continued to work with various NFL broadcast partners.
The idea that Marino would initially be part of this suit also raised questions about his potential for joining the Dolphins in some future front-office capacity.
Though a Dolphins source said no such obstacle existed as a result of the suit and an NFL spokesman dismissed the idea the league would dissuade the Dolphins from hiring Marino while he was in litigation against the league, Marino stepping away from the suit offers a clearer avenue for him to someday rejoin the team.
Marino, 52, has been in talks with the team about a role in Miami dating to 2013. He met with owner Stephen Ross as recently as April to discuss a position with the club. The sides have not agreed what such a role would entail and though Marino remains part of the “Dolphins family” there is no certainty he will definitely land a job with the team anytime soon.
The news that Marino had joined 14 other players in a concussion lawsuit against the NFL, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, was greeted with cheers in some sectors and disappointment in others.
“It’s great for him because he’s like all the rest of us who had concussions,” former Dolphins receiver Mark Duper said Tuesday. “I joined the first suit because I had four concussions in my career.”
Duper said he now suffers from bouts with anger, depression and memory loss as a result of his concussions. He even asked The Herald to text his phone as a reminder he had done an interview for this story.
But it does not escape some sectors that players suing the NFL after knowingly playing a violent game and being paid handsomely for it could be construed as double dipping.
Even Marino in a 2013 interview with Yahoo.com said he knowingly played accepting the possibility of injury and concussions.
The NFL and an initial pool of concussion litigants agreed on a $765 million settlement but that settlement was rejected by a judge as being too small for the vast pool of players involved.
Before Tuesday’s news that Marino was withdrawing his name, Esiason said on his New York-based radio talk show he wasn’t surprised Marino joined the litigation. “All it takes is one lawyer to sit you down and say, ‘Listen, I can get you this amount of money. And look what’s happening, look at the amount that was thrown out and how much more is going to be added to that amount.’
“I mean, it’s unfortunate that Dan’s name was thrown out there … There’s a new cottage industry that’s been developed by lawyers all across the country recognizing that, wow, if they threw out $765 million, what number would they be happy with? And if we can join in to a major settlement, guess who’s going to get paid? The lawyers. There’s a large incentive for lawyers to try to get guys like Dan Marino or myself involved to use our name to try to, you know, put forth their claims.”
The fact is Marino and any other past player who might have sustained damage from concussions were already part of the settlement with the NFL unless they opted out of the class action. Marino can in the future secure benefits if he develops cognitive impairment that entitles him to payment.
Marino suffered two known concussions during his 17-year career. The most famous one happened in September 1992 in a game against Seattle.
Marino left that game in the fourth quarter after being “knocked dizzy” by a hit. He was out of the game for a total of one pass play.
Marino returned to the game and threw the eventual winning touchdown to Fred Banks. But afterward he could not recall having thrown the pass.
“He couldn’t even remember who won the game,” Bobby Monica, the Dolphins’ equipment manager from 1980-93 and a Marino confidant said Tuesday.
“I remember when we got on the plane I used to sit with him on the plane. So I turn to him and tell him, ‘You got that $500?’ He looked at me and asked me what I was talking about. I told him, ‘I lent you $500 last week.’ And he said ‘Oh, yeah, yeah.’ “
Monica was merely kidding. He hadn’t lent Marino that money.
“But he was starting to reach in his pocket,” Monica joked.
Monica says neither he nor anyone could rightly estimate how many concussions Marino sustained because the player never liked telling trainers when he was hurt.
“The trainer would come him and ask, ‘You OK? And he’d say, ‘Yeah, I’m alright,’ “ Monica recalled. “He was one of the toughest guys in the league. People don’t realize. He was one of the toughest guys ever.”