1983 NFL Draft: Detailing Major Storylines Ahead of ESPN's '30 for 30' Special

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1983 NFL Draft: Detailing Major Storylines Ahead of ESPN's '30 for 30' Special
Jason Miller/Getty Images

ESPN's 30 for 30 continues to nail its selections of a plethora of underrated sports stories, focusing on the 1983 NFL draft in the documentary titled "From Elway to Marino."

The film, directed by NFL Films and Ken Rodgers, highlights two legendary quarterbacks in its title: John Elway of the Denver Broncos and Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins. Elway was selected with the No. 1 overall pick, and Marino was the last of six quarterbacks taken in the first round.

Let's take a look at some of the major storylines to bear in mind when the film premieres at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday evening.

Video Credit: ESPN

 

John Elway Requests Trade

Video Credit: ESPN

The ex-Stanford star did not want to play for the Baltimore Colts when he was selected with the top pick and demanded a trade.

As Mike Klis of the Denver Post points out, there was significant interest from a ton of teams near the top of the draft. A strong relationship between Colts owner Robert Irsay and his Broncos counterpart Edgar Kaiser was the key factor that landed Elway in Denver.

Elway's initial excuse to not play in Baltimore was that he wanted to remain on the West Coast, which prompted Terry Bradshaw to sound off as he prepared to play his last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers (h/t NFL on ESPN):

But Klis indicates that Elway denied this as the reason, stating his father had no desire for him to play under Irsay and head coach Frank Kush.

That wasn't the only element factoring into his complex equation, though. As an accomplished baseball prospect, Elway was recruited to sign with the New York Yankees by a scout named Gary Hughes.

It looked for a while as though Elway wouldn't get his trade wishes. He and his father, Jack, had set up a press conference to announce his intention to play professional baseball—eventually rocking the trademark Yankee pinstripes.

One of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL was that close to never even setting foot on the gridiron after his days with the Cardinal.


Quarterback Class of '83

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

This draft had an unprecedented—and since unmatched—six quarterbacks selected in the first round, as touched on before. Elway, Marino and Buffalo Bills star Jim Kelly all went to the Hall of Fame.

ESPN Stats & Info highlights just how successful this trio was:

All three were known for falling short in the big game, but Elway's two Super Bowls in his final two seasons remedied his reputation. The same can't be said for Marino and Kelly. The Dolphins' signal-caller is widely considered the best ever to not win a Lombardi Trophy.

Marino made it to pro football's biggest stage after his second NFL campaign, but never returned. Unfortunately for Kelly, he guided the Bills there four consecutive times, only to lose on each occasion.

New England Patriots QB Tony Eason also played in a Super Bowl, but faced the vaunted Chicago Bears 46 defense. He was pulled from the game having not completed any of his six passes and losing a fumble (h/t ESPN).

As exceptional as this class was in terms of landing star signal-callers, it was only Elway who could ultimately deliver his team to the promised land.

 

Other Future Hall of Famers

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Richard Dent (right), pictured with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, was the 203rd overall selection in the 1983 draft.

Eric Dickerson wound up setting the single-season record for rushing yards, which was nearly broken in 2012 by Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson.

Which non-QB was the best player from the draft class of 1983?

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The Los Angeles Rams chose Dickerson with the No. 2 overall pick, which gave the top of the draft board incredible star power. Longtime Tennessee Titan franchise cornerstone, offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, went seven slots later. He became a 14-time All-Pro selection, the most in the history of the game.

With the last choice in the first round at No. 29, the Washington Redskins went with Darrell Green, one of the fastest players ever. Green hailed from Texas A&M-Kingsville and was smaller in stature, but there was nothing diminutive about the cornerback's game, as he enjoyed an extremely successful 20-year career with the team that drafted him.

By far the biggest diamond in the rough of all, though, was Richard Dent.

The defensive end was taken in the eighth round by the Chicago Bears. Bear in mind, there were fewer teams back then, but an eighth round no longer even exists.

Dent wound up with 137.5 career sacks, including 17 in his third year in the pros when the Bears won their last Super Bowl.

So there were plenty of more stars to this draft class than those who played the game's most important position at a high level. However, quarterbacks will always be the main storyline—and for viewers of this program, that shouldn't be a bad thing at all.

It's easy to have that position be the focus, but in the case of this crop of franchise studs under center, it is unavoidable.

Note: Statistics obtained from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.

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