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Marino, Elway meet tonight

MIAMI -- If you think about it, it's not so bad that some of the steam will be gone from tonight's showdown between the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins at Pro Player Stadium.

Two of the most prolific quarterbacks in league history, John Elway and Dan Marino, the gems of the celebrated quarterback-rich 1983 draft, will be playing against each other for only the second time in their 16-year careers.

Isn't that special?

While the Broncos' loss to the New York Giants last week spoiled their bid to become the first team to go undefeated since the '72 Dolphins, the NFL is not wasting the opportunity to showcase two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.

Yes, it's kind of weird, Marino said of the one-time meeting between he and Elway. It is almost impossible but it has happened and so it is really unusual. I'm looking forward to the game, I really am. I just think it's kind of weird that it hasn't happened for so long.

Maybe it is weird. Maybe it was arranged this way. If it was, then that's good. A game featuring two future Hall of Famers such as these shouldn't be played on a regular basis. This way, the game will be cherished and their greatness can be appreciated a whole lot more.

But the unfortunate thing about this matchup -- other than the fact it could be the last time they meet -- is Marino doesn't have the supporting cast that helped him outshine Elway during the early part of their careers, including their first meeting, in which Marino went crazy, completing 25 of 43 for 390 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-26 victory at Denver on Sept. 29, 1985.

The Dolphins' wide receivers will never be confused with Mark Duper or Mark Clayton. That's partly why Marino has struggled to reach the big game. A suspect running game is another reason.

Though Elway had been to the Super Bowl three times, losing each time, he has been surrounded by a gang of great players the past couple of years. That helped him and the Broncos win it all in January by defeating the Packers.

Elway feels for Marino.

I know he gets tired of answering those questions, Elway said. And no matter what he does, that is going to be the thing that everybody goes back to because that is what happened to me after we lost our last Super Bowl in 1989. People, no matter what you do, numbers-wise or anything else, it still goes back as a quarterback to how many Super Bowls you've won and I know how he feels.

I think that by us winning it last year, I no longer have to answer all those questions. That is a big burden and to remove that asterisk behind my name being on a team that won a Super Bowl, was bigger than I thought.