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ESPN Films 30 for 30: Elway to Marino Review

Before I get into my blog, I apologize for not having a regular blog. Without going into details, life has been throwing some curve-balls at me, and I just have not had the time. I believe that things are calming down, so I can blog more frequently and regularly. I want to thank my editor, Eric Gargiulo for his patience.

Now, let’s get to the blog. To my fellow NFL fans, tonight, April 25th, is the first round of the three day event we all look forward to, the NFL draft. We get to see which prospects get picked to start their NFL careers, and we also get to see which teams trade to move up or down in the draft.

I love the NFL Draft, especially the first round, which is tonight, April 25th, as I write this. There is a lot of drama and intrigue. I tend to go back and forth between NFL Network and ESPN as far as coverage. Of course, there is coverage on social media also. I do hope that the main networks stop the practice of “tipping” the picks. What I mean is that when “X” team makes the pick, or is about to, the networks show the likely pick on the phone with the head coach or owner. I mean, I like being surprised.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what the 2013 draft class does on the field, and what legacy they leave.

[adinserter block=”1″]That brings me to my blog. On Tuesday, April 23, 2013, ESPN aired from ESPN FILMS and NFL FILMS as part of their “30 for 30” series, “Elway to Marino,” which discussed the famous 1983 draft class where six QBs went in the first round. The film discussed Dan Marino’s fall to #28 to the Miami Dolphins, and John Elway’s refusal to play for the Baltimore Colts.

I will be giving a review of the film, and then I will be making my own personal comments, so I hope my readers will enjoy it.


I thought the film was fantastic. I highly recommend sports fans to watch it, not just NFL fans. This was a great analysis of wheeling and dealing on the part of the the other teams who really wanted John Elway. It also was great showing the ineptness and dysfunction of the Baltimore Colts. Elway, Marino, and former Colts General Manager Ernie Accorsi were interviewed for this film to offer their insights.

The film is told with the help of Marvin Demoff, who represented both Marino and Elway. Demoff had notes on the entire transaction of each QB. I thought that was great. His notes revealed some very interesting revelations. One of which was that 49ers coach, Bill Walsh offered to trade Joe Montana to the Colts for Elway. That revelation was pretty shocking to me, being a huge Montana fan.

Marvin Demoff starts off by revealing that he was a lawyer, but then got into the business of representing athletes. He started by representing Dan Marino, QB out of the University of Pittsburgh. He then started to represent the highly touted QB from Stanford, John Elway. Both men didn’t mind that they were represented by the same agent.

Holding the first pick in the 1983 Draft was the Baltimore Colts. John Elway was being promoted by the media as the #1 pick in the draft. Elway’s father, Jack was his high school coach. The Elways balked at the idea of John Elway playing for the Colts. Their reason was that the Colts head coach at the time, Frank Kush was not a coach that John would want to play for, as Kush was a strict disciplinarian. The Elways were not fond of the Colts Organization whose Owner Bob Irsay had just fired the GM, and hired Ernie Accorsi immediately as Accorsi was the Vice- GM.

A couple of months before the draft, the Elways and Irsay and other Colts officials met, and there was an agreement made where John Elway would not be drafted by the team, and Elway would be traded.. The Elways’ excuse was that John was from California, and did not want to play for a cold weather team. In his interview, John said it backfired on them because it gave him (John) the image of “sunshine boy, blond haired, California kid.”

As for Marino, his issue was that there were teams that were more interested in what he did on and off campus, than what he did on the campus gridiron. One team even interviewed his teammate as to whether there were any drugs in the room. In his interview, he said he realized he had a bad year.

Up to the draft, viewers get to hear what Ernie Accorsi wanted for Elway, and it was pretty steep. The Colts wanted ‘3 #1s and 2 #2s. Many teams, including the Patriots and the Cowboys tried to make deals, but Irsay, who jumped in the middle of things, said no.

At the draft itself, when it was time to pick, the Colts Accorsi picked Elway right away, about a minute after the Colts were “on the clock.” Obviously, that gave none of the teams any chance during the 15 minute period to make any deal. Elway was the “property” of the Colts. During the first round, the Colts did have a chance to trade Elway’s rights if the price was right.

The film then shows which prospect got picked by which team, and such. The film goes back to Marino’s plight, as he watches several other QBs go before him. In his interview, Marino discusses how he thought he thought he would be going to this team, or how he was surprised that so and so went to that team, as the picks went on.

There were some head scratchers. The Kansas City Chiefs took QB Todd Blackledge with the 7th pick. The guy was just alright. People also thought the Pittsburgh Steelers would take the hometown hero, Dan Marino, but the Steelers stuck to building the team through the defense and took Gabe Rivera. The New York Jets needed a QB, but took Ken O’Brien.

In the meantime, as the draft progressed, as teams tried their best to convince the Colts to accept their offers for Elway’s rights, Bob Irsay kept refusing, so the teams picked whomever they felt fit their team..

As for the two main characters, Marino eventually slid all the way down to the 28th pick, and wound up being the face of the franchise for the Miami Dolphins. As for Elway, no deal, and Demoff wrote in his diary that the Elways were crushed.

On the day of that first round of that draft, John Elway made an announcement. He had decided to play for the New York Yankees, as he had been playing in their farm system.. He decided to play baseball, rather than play for the Colts.

Viewers then are told the story about how Elway gets a call a couple of days after the draft, and is told to get dressed, and get packed as he has to go to Denver, because Bob Irsay made a deal to trade him to the Broncos. Elways states in the interview that he sneaked out of the house, got on the plane, and then landed in Denver, and finally signed papers. The deal was made. John Elway was a Denver Bronco.

Isray traded Elway away for a song. For Elways’ rights, Denver had to give up quarterback Mark Hermann, the rights to offensive tackle Chris Hinton and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft, which ended up being guard Ron Solt. Ernie Accorsi was furious, and he said that he resigned immediately as he did not want to be part of it.

The film concludes with the other teams facing the consequences of their choices. For example, Gabe Rivera only played 6 games for the Steelers while QB Terry Bradshaw suffered a career ending injury. The Jets Ken O’Brien was just alright, even though he had an 8-7 record against Marino. The Patriots QB Tony Eason led them to Super Bowl XX, but he wasn’t tough enough to last in the NFL, as he was very frail.

The Bills did get the great Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, who at first balked at playing there, and played in the USFL. After the USFL closed, Kelly did report to the Bills, and led them to four straight SB appearances, the only QB to do that in NFL history.

During the end credits, both Elway and Marino talk about what they are doing in retirement.

Overall, this was an excellent film which I’d highly recommend.


I just want to quickly comment on the main characters. To me, the draft is kind of like a yearling sale. Horse buyers are spending hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions on a thoroughbred yearling that they don’t know if it can run. It was the same thing with the draft. Teams are spending MILLIONS on players who have yet to play a down in the NFL. Heaven forbid they screw up, especially at the QB position.

That being said, I can understand why Marino fell so far, especially with the drug use rumors. Of course, sometimes teams need to look into rumors themselves instead of believing what everyone is saying. I mean, yes, Rivera looked promising to the Steelers, but he went out drinking and driving, and never played again. I just would have gone ahead and picked Marino. Bradshaw was on his way out anyway. Nevertheless, Dan Marino had a Hall of Fame career with Miami. He lead the Dolphins to one Super Bowl appearance, but got destroyed by the 49ers. who were led by Joe Montana.

As for Elway, I don’t usually like power plays to get what you want, but considering that the following year, the Irsay’s moved the team out of [adinserter block=”2″]Baltimore in the dark like cowards, I think the Elway family had a good grasp of what kind of people the Irsays were like, and what kind of organization the Colts were.

Therefore, I cannot really blame John for refusing to play for them. It was all for the best anyway, as Elway became a legend in Denver, and took the team to 5 Super Bowl appearances, winning 2. Like Marino, Elway is also a Hall of Famer.

As for Bob Irsay, I found the guy to be a stubborn jerk. I don’t know if it were because of pride or ego, but I could not understand why if other teams were offering him the moon for Elway, he refused to consider them. I also got the impression that Irsay wanted to hold on to Elway’s rights just because he could. I also got the impression that Irsay wanted to do things his way, or the highway.

What really turned me off was after turning down all those offers, Irsay trades Elway to the Broncos for peanuts, behind Colts GM Accorsi’s back. Was it a power play? I just thought that was a cowardly move, and I just didn’t like Irsay at all.

Well, that was my review, and my personal commentary on the film. I hope you enjoyed it.

Terri Bey currently blogs for about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for Terri can be found here at Facebook- and at Twitter-

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Terri Bey currently blogs for about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for Terri can be found here at Facebook- and at Twitter-


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