Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast Season 2 Episode 1: Dan Marino

Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with disrupters and high performers in all walks of life. In Season 2, Episode 1, we spoke to Dan Marino, former football quarterback with the Miami Dolphins, who played in the NFL for 17 years.

Listen to the full episode above (scroll down for the transcript) and see more from this series below.

This interview has not been edited for length or clarity.


Mike Sarraille:
Welcome to the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Sarraille. Today we have a guest who needs no introduction. Dan Marino is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time—17 years with the Miami Dolphins and still holds dozens of records. I think when you retired, you held over 40 at that time. Is that correct?

Dan Marino:
Yeah. Mike, uh, well thank you for bringing up. That’s uh, that’s awesome. Yeah, I, uh, pretty much, you know, when I left, you know, nowadays guys are break gradually breaking all of them, but I had pretty much all of them and, uh, was very proud of that. And, um, then, then Brett Farve comes along and then you got Drew Brees and Tom Brady and Payton Manning, and they all start kind of picking away at my records, but that’s okay. It’s part of life sometimes, but, uh, man, I enjoyed it 17 years at a great time.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, I I’ll tell you what if the next generation isn’t breaking our records, then we failed. Uh, we failed them. Uh, I’m sure you laid the path, uh, to success for a lot of ’em and, and I, I think that holds true in any profession is the next generation comes in and does one better? Um, I wanna talk a little about football, but you’ve had a lot of time to reflect post-care, uh, and, and I’m sure you have a lot of valuable lessons for our, our, our listeners. Um, so mainly wanna talk about leadership, uh, and, and habits both on and off the, uh, the, uh, the, the football field first off. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment, uh, in your career, whether football or, or post career?

Dan Marino:
Well, I think, uh, to me, what you never, when you go on the league, you never believe you, you, you believe you’re gonna be successful, you have that confidence, but, you know, to be able to play 17 years and then, uh, get, you know, picked to go into the hall of fame, Canton, Ohio was, uh, that was special to have be able to do that in front of my dad, family and friends. And, and I remember going, my dad taking me to Canton when I was like eight years old. Uh, we drove from Pittsburgh over there just for the day with some other friends. And then, you know, you never imagined that years later when I was, you know, 40, 42 years old, I go into the Hall of Fame. So to me that’s a, uh, a huge accomplishment because it’s like it’s football heaven. And, uh, uh that’s, that was amazing.

Mike Sarraille:
You know, Dan, I always, uh, wondered cuz you were highly recruited out of high school, was the university of Pittsburgh, uh, that decision solely because of family to be close to them. Well,

Dan Marino:
I think, uh, yeah, that, and then, and, and go there. I grew up basically in the same neighborhood that the university is located. Uh, I could walk from my house to the 50 yard line stadium, um, you know, lot, a lot of kids that go to college don’t have that, you know, that kind of opportunity. Uh, so I was always really gonna go to pit, excuse me, they had a, uh, really good football team, you know, before I got there and, uh, some, some great players and, and, uh, that was special for me. And then besides that, you know, I was able to go to school all year round and then I could go home and, you know, my mother would do my laundry, so I didn’t have to worry about that and stuff. So, no, that was, it was, uh, no, it was special. Yeah. To go there,

Mike Sarraille:
Smart decision in a lot of ways, uh, during your football career who was most influential, cuz we, we are all the product of great coaches and mens. Uh, we never do it on our own. Uh, who was that men or coach that was there to cheer you on when you were victorious, but more importantly to pick you up, uh, when you were not.

Dan Marino:
So I will tell you that, uh, you know, I had some great coaches, Don Shula, you know, Jackie Sherrill, Jimmy Johnson, all those guys are incredible and incredible to me, uh, as a player and uh, as someone that was a good example, all of them, but I would say the best coach I ever had in my life was my dad. And what, you know, he accomplished his life, uh, for his family and being, you know, a truck driver working weekends as a landscaper and just the hard work that he put in for his family. The examples that, that I learned from him, uh, about understanding people and the relationships and in your life is, uh, was so important to me. But, you know, he was, he was, he was like a coach, but he wasn’t really a coach, you know, more of a life coach, but understood football and understood life.

Mike Sarraille:
What was the best advice he ever gave you? The one that stuck with you,

Dan Marino:
You know, uh, as far as relationships or, uh, concerned the, the best one is, um, I would say he always said treat people the way you want to be treated and life will be fine, you know, and, and, uh, understand that it could be, you know, the guy that’s coming to pick up your garbage or it could be, you know, the president of the United States, you treat ’em all how you want to be treated and, and, and you’ll be in good shape. I was thought that was very good. I always thought that was a pretty good one.

Mike Sarraille:
That it’s the golden rule. Why would you treat anyone? Uh, otherwise, and I, you know, what really changes that when you have a daughter, especially how you treat women, it becomes even more poignant. Um, but you know, my, my old man is, uh, and he hates being called my old man. My dad is now in his, uh, his seventies just celebrated his, uh, 76th birthday. Uh, do you remember a time? You, you sat your old man down and said, Hey, I, I just want you to, to know you, you, you did good by your family and, and everything I have is, is because of you.

Dan Marino:
Yeah. You know, I, uh, I don’t remember the exact time, but I, he was always used to have discussions with him and talk to ’em about how, you know, he was so important in my life and, and the things he taught me and we always, you know, ended with, you know, I love you man. And, and, uh, looking forward to seeing you. And I was fortunate enough that when he retired, he came to Florida, was able to see a lot of my football games and lived close and see my kids grow up. And it was, uh, always this, this, it was excellent. It was important. It was great.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, you know, uh, a lot of players respected the hell out of you. I know a lot, you, you know, lot, you hear the, uh, the, the footage, a lot of Miami dolphins look to you as the leader, but who is that player that you respected the most, either on your team or that you played against during your career?

Dan Marino:
Well, I mean, when I first came in the league, uh, there was my backup quarterback actually was Don Strock. And he was in, you know, I don’t know a lot of people might not remember him, but he was in his 11th year and I was in my first. And he was, he became an extremely close friend and also an important player in my life and on those teams, because he was like, my coach, like, we didn’t even have a quarterback coach back then. Now they have two quarterback coaches, you know, every, every team, but he, he really, uh, taught me how to play the game, how to work the, the, you know, a lot of things that, uh, to me were so important when I was, you know, 21, 22 years old. Um, and then, you know, other guys like Dwight Stephenson who’s in the Hall of Fame was my center things he went through, but still, uh, you know, was able to go out and play and, and play that, you know, that probably the best center to ever play, but to play at that level. Uh, he did only do it for eight years and then get in the Hall of Fame. So he was special also

Mike Sarraille:
The, well, that must be a very, he must have had so little ego knowing that this young college quarterback is coming in and taking his job and to still to be a coach. And in somewhat of a mentor to him, sounds like, like an amazing individual.

Dan Marino:
Yeah. Don was, uh, he was, uh, yeah, exactly. He hit it right on the head. I mean, you know, he knew it was gonna probably be my job sooner or later, but, you know, the thing is, it’s a team, a team game, you’re all working together and he understood that he was in his 11th year and I was, you know, my first year and, and, uh, he wanted to help me, you know, he, uh, I, I felt like it was important to him and, and, and he did, and he really did help me

Mike Sarraille:
17 years in the league. That is insane. When that time came, were you ready to hang it up or was that one of the toughest decisions in your life?

Dan Marino:
You know, that, that was tough, Mike, because you always feel like you can still play and I felt like I could have played a couple more years. Um, but at the same time I had some injuries, you know, knees, uh, think in my neck and, and, uh, like I lost my feeling in my arm that last year for couldn’t play for like six weeks. And doctors said, if it happens again, it could be worse. You know, you, so your mind starts thinking about all those things. And I was like, well, I played 17 years. All one place had an incredible career, you know, had a, uh, uh, you know, just so many things to be happy for my NFL career. And I thought about going somewhere else, I thought about Minnesota or Pittsburgh. They were both teams that kind of came after me a little bit, but I thought being a dolphin for life and starting to spend some time with my family and, and not have to worry about the injuries anymore was a big part of my decision.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s, it’s amazing. When you think about it, I mean, you guys really do sacrifice your body for the love of the sport. I mean, that is, that is obsession. That is passion, um, which are usually the, uh, the same things. When you did transition, did you have a plan in place or, or was that, was that smooth or was that more difficult than you thought going from career, uh, you know, franchise football player to, uh, retiree in a sense?

Dan Marino:
Yes. Um, that’s a good question, cuz I get that a lot and, uh, it was tough, really tough because your body, especially when the summer came and it was time to get in shape for football camp and you know, your body and your mind is like, I, you know, I gotta get ready for football and then all of a sudden that’s not there. And it was like, almost like to the point where, you know, you want to go to the games and just sit there and, and, and, you know, just to be around it, be around the players, uh, the transition part at, besides that, you know, I started doing some television for HBO, so it kept me kind of involved a little bit and being a part of the game, but I actually, you know, doing TV was okay. So I got a little taste of that and ended up doing a lot more of that as, as years went on for CBS and HBO. But that, that was the, the transition. I don’t, I don’t know if you ever really transitioned because you played say, I’ve been, I was doing that since I was eight years old and then now I was 38 and now it’s not there anymore, which, uh, is tough. And a lot of guys struggle with that too, cuz it’s, uh, it’s not easy,

Mike Sarraille:
It’s it almost becomes part of your DNA and, and I would never equate my profession to, to what you guys did, but watching a lot of, uh, the career special operations guys get out. Yeah. It’s it’s uh, and I’m sure you miss running onto that field on Sunday. I’m sure that’s like no other, uh, feeling in the world.

Dan Marino:
Yeah. I mean, and also, I mean, I know you just mentioned that the respect I have for all the special op guys and the people that protect our country, I mean, it’s, it’s overwhelming. It’s, it’s incredible. And uh, yeah. So you always yearn, I guess, for that action and then go on on the field or do whatever it may do do to that you love. So it’s, it’s hard to, uh, it’s hard to, to, I don’t know, give it up, I guess that’s the thing. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
To let go. All right. Success and failure, uh, both vitally important to any career. Uh what’d you learn more from success or failure?

Dan Marino:
I think, uh, well it’s a combination, but I guess the failure part, because you learn, you know, you learn from the failures that you make in your life and decisions you make in your life and hopefully you, you don’t make them again. That’s what you learn from. So you can be more successful the next time. I mean, so they go hand in hand. So it would be to me, probably a yeah. And I, I, I think that’s something I probably got from my dad too. He says, he’d always say, don’t be afraid to fail. You know, you’re trying to succeed, but if you fail, it’s okay, cuz you learn from it and then you’re gonna succeed and succeed the next time. Which I always thought was pretty cool.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. That’s that’s great advice. Well, we already talked about your, your greatest accomplishment, which was the, the aggregate effort of getting you into the hall of fame. What do you consider to be your biggest failure while leading the Miami Dolphins as their quarterback?

Dan Marino:
Wow. That’s an easy one. That’s an easy one. Not, you know, not getting to the Super Bowl again. After I got to the super bowl my second year, which I was, you know, the youngest quarterback, I think I still am the youngest quarterback to starting a super bowl and lose and then not get back, you know, the rest of my career and not with that, not know what that feeling is like to win that championship. Now break all the records, all the other things win a ton of games, but don’t know what, that, that just that last game on Sunday, that championship and, and you win. What does that feel? And what does that feel like?

Mike Sarraille:
It, it’s amazing for a man that’s accomplished all that, that, that would still, that’s still there. And in quite selfishly, I grew up in Palo Alto, California. I still remember that at the age of seven, uh, watching that well, couldn’t make it into the stadium cuz I was too young. Uh, my dad and my brother had tickets, so I had to watch it on TV, but we remember that super bowl, uh, as vividly as possible. Cause I think that was the, the one and last time that it was ever held at, uh, Stanford stadium, but

Dan Marino:
Oh yeah, no, it was like the home game for the 49ers.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh yeah. He totally had a whole field advantage. So what are those, uh, one to three, uh, tenants, those non-negotiables those things that you credit, uh, that have led to the majority of your success drive discipline? What, what are the things that you, you now preach to your kids or young players?

Dan Marino:
Sorry, one second. Yeah. Okay. Um, I, I’m sorry, Mike, can you, I

Mike Sarraille:
Ask that question? No problem at all. Uh, what are those one to three? Non-negotiables those tenants that you’ve lived by that have have driven you to most of the success in life? What, what are those things you, you preach to your, your children or young players, uh, coming into the league now?

Dan Marino:
Oh, I would think, uh, you know, as far as athletics concerned, um, it’s uh, to make sure you feel that you’ve done enough and worked hard enough to be successful and not to look back and say, well, I wish I would’ve worked harder. I wish I would’ve studied a little harder to be successful and, and kind of leave it, uh, on the field, I guess, uh, in every way. But just to make sure that you work, like if it’s working out, if it’s, you know, if it’s the mental part of the game, then it’s the physical part of the game to make sure you’ve established yourself and felt good about everything and how you prepared up to that point when you get, you know, your test, which would be a game or, you know, anything like that. I think that’s one of the big things and, and, you know, in life, I guess it’s, you know, what my dad said is, you know, treating people the way you wanna be treated and, and always learning from relationships and learning from the experiences that you have with other people and kind of looking forward to, uh, just being able to, I don’t know, what’s the word, bring that along and part of your life and part of your kids’ lives.

Dan Marino:
Uh, those, those are things that I think to me are, are extremely important.

Mike Sarraille:
It, it’s amazing that you, you, you talk about preparation. Uh, I know, uh, there’s a phrase fortune favors the bold, I actually believe fortune favors the prepared and that a lot of battles in our space are one before you even step onto the battlefield. I’m sure that holds true for football. If you put the work in, uh, if you put the time in studying your opponent, the, the, the victory is already secured

Dan Marino:
And it seems like it, uh, becomes easier actually. Yeah. You know, you know, when you’re that prepared and you’re ready to roll that, that, that, it’s, it’s, it’s part, it’s almost like it’s a perfection, which how, how you want it to work.

Mike Sarraille:
Dan, one more question, and then I wanna get to, to what’s next for you and your passion projects that you’re working on. So we, we asked this last question when all is said and done, and that time comes for Dan Marino. How are you gonna look back on your life and evaluate whether you’ve lived a life of impact and purpose?

Dan Marino:
Wow, good question though. That’s a deep one. Um, I would look back on it and say that I made an impact, uh, on other people’s lives in a positive way, especially, you know, in, uh, my pursuit of helping children with autism, cuz my son Michael was, was born autistic and, and it’s been a long time now he’s 30 years, but I’ve always felt like I wanted to help people in a different way. The ones that couldn’t get the help, the things they needed that had developmental disabilities. Like my son, Michael cuz he had great opportunities because I was in a position to help him. And uh, I think that’s something that, you know, I’ll look back on and I’ll, you know, and right now even, you know, look back on and I’m extremely proud of, you know, and that, and then the other thing is just that, you know, I love the game. I love people, the relationships, the relationships I’ve built up over the years. I think I’ve people look at me and say, Hey, you know what? He was, he was a good man and a good guy.

Mike Sarraille:
So we have a motto here with you everyday warrior concept it’s uh, get stuff done, make stuff happen due to all again tomorrow, what is next for Danita? What are the passion projects that you’re working on right now?

Dan Marino:
Well, one is what I just talked about was the foundation and uh, continuing to do that and build that as much as I can. And the other, uh, is, you know, I, I got both of my knees done, so two knee replacements and I put some weight on and, and uh, I started to, uh, work for Nutrisystem, which I’ve done work with them, you know, for years but of late, you know, I, I put some weight on and now I I’ve taken it off. But uh, I think it’s really for men and helping them understand that you have to be in shape and the fact that Nutrisystem can help you through, uh, the, the diet plan that they do. And, and, uh, it has been something that, uh, to me really, uh, you see people that’ll come up to me and say, Hey, you know, I got on the program, the Nutrisystem quote, the system and it makes it easy for men because basically the guy doesn’t want to work that hard at it, except if it gets there, you know, you get it in your front door, the meals are, you know, five, six meals a day and they take all the planning out of it.

Dan Marino:
You know, it’s just, it’s planned for you, right? Yeah. So, and, and if you do it, you lose the weight, you feel good about yourself, your body feels better. And that’s something that, uh, I always felt good about when people come up to me and they say, you know, my husband, a wife, or would say, you know, been on Nutrisystem, he lost a bunch of weight. He feels better about his life. And uh, to me that’s pretty cool.

Mike Sarraille:
That is pretty, uh, pretty cool. And I know with the rise in obesity, uh, Hey, we all want to be the best version of ourselves. Uh, is it as simple as people go into nutrisystem.com? Is that the best way to it?

Dan Marino:
Yeah, it would be Nutrisystem for men.com and, uh, you can get a special deal if you go on here. Uh, soon as far as the price of the food, if you go online and order some of it

Mike Sarraille:
And, and your work with autism, if anyone wants to make a donation, where, where, where can they make a donation there? If, if that’s a club,

Dan Marino:
I think it would be do, uh, Dan Marino, uh, foundation.com. Um, what’d you say?

Mike Sarraille:
Dot org.

Dan Marino:
Org. Oh yeah. Dot org. I’m sorry. Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
Dan, Dan Danino foundation.org.

Dan Marino:
Yeah. I got corrected from the side over here. Yeah. That’s it. And the foundation and, you know, I, I, I feel like we’ve made a big impact and I, I appreciate it.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, sir, I, I can’t thank you enough for joining us. That was, uh, definitely a lot of nuggets of wisdom there for, for, uh, both our listeners and myself and, uh, to speak to a legend that I watched growing up. Um, this has been, uh, special for me. So again, thank you from myself and all the listeners and men’s journal as well.

Dan Marino:
Well, thank you, Mike. I appreciate it. And thank you for what you’ve done in your life. So that’s awesome.

Mike Sarraille:
Appreciate it. All right, guys. Thank you, Dan. And for all the listeners, thank you for joining the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast, we will see you again.

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