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Marino to Roethlisberger: Enjoy the moment

Associated Press

New York — He was a kid when he made it to the Super Bowl, his right arm gunning the Miami Dolphins all the way to California for a date with the San Francisco 49ers.

Dan Marino figured every year would end with the big game, even after the Dolphins lost 38-16 in the 1985 Super Bowl. He was only 23. He had plenty of time.

Year after year passed. There were no more Super Bowl appearances.

Now here comes Ben Roethlisberger, hoping to become the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl when his Steelers play Seattle on Feb. 5. Marino had those hopes once, now he has a few words of wisdom for Big Ben: Enjoy the moment.

"My advice would be to have fun with it," Marino said Wednesday during a break in taping for HBO's "Inside the NFL." "Don't take it for granted. After I lost that game, I felt, 'OK we lost the Super Bowl, but we'll be back next year, we'll have more opportunities.'

"But I never got back."

Marino spent 17 seasons in the league and is still the youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl at 23 years, 127 days old. Roethlisberger will be 23 years, 340 days old on game day, the second-youngest to make it.

The memories of the game are hazy for Marino, inducted into the Hall of Fame last year. He was coming off a record-setting 1984 season in which he was the NFL Most Valuable Player and threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdown passes.

Everything started well enough against San Francisco. The Dolphins had a 10-7 lead heading into the second quarter. Then everything unraveled. Joe Montana took apart the Dolphins defense, and the 49ers dominated.

With no running game, Marino put everything on his shoulders. It hardly mattered. He finished 29-of-50 for 318 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

"I remember when the game was over, I wished it was like a baseball playoff series: If we could play again tomorrow I think we'd win," Marino said.

Then again, there are many things he wants to forget.

"It's hard for me to remember back," Marino said. "If we would have won the game, I would remember a lot more of my Super Bowl experience. The fact that we lost, sometimes you don't necessarily want to remember all of it."

Roethlisberger has a better supporting cast. The Steelers are a running team primarily, a luxury Marino never had when he was with the Dolphins. Plus, the Pittsburgh defense is much better than the one Marino had in the Super Bowl.

Marino also believes all the playoff success Roethlisberger has had will help take the pressure off him in the big game.

"First of all, the quarterback position — you get in the Super Bowl and you get a lot of the attention because of that. The fact that he is so young and he's already played in five playoff games, two AFC championship games ... I think he'll handle it fine," Marino said.

Though Marino has to try and stay neutral, he has a soft spot for Pittsburgh. Marino grew up there and played at the University of Pittsburgh before the Dolphins drafted him in the first round in 1983.

"I grew up watching Joe Greene and Franco (Harris) and (Terry) Bradshaw and Chuck Noll. It's my hometown, it's where I grew up, I have a lot of friends and people there," Marino said. "You'd like to see them do well but I want to see a good football game."

How does he believe that will unfold? Marino expects the Steelers to employ the same game plan they used in making it to the Super Bowl: having Roethlisberger come out throwing. He also believes the Seahawks need to establish Shaun Alexander early to take the pressure off Matt Hasselbeck.

But one thing is clear: the Steelers appear to have found their star quarterback. Only time will tell whether he makes it to more Super Bowls than Marino.

"The Steelers, they got lucky to be able to get a guy who's going to be a franchise quarterback for them for the next 10 or 15 years," Marino said. "That's what you need in this league to be consistent and have a chance to win championships."

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