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Marino will be inducted Aug. 7

DAVIE, Fla. -- Hall of Fame-bound Dan Marino says he retired
five years ago only after rejecting an offer to play for his
hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

When his 17-year career with the Miami Dolphins ended with the
1999 season, Marino turned down a well-publicized offer from the
Minnesota Vikings. On Thursday, Marino said he also was approached
by other teams, including the Steelers and coach Bill Cowher.

"I had a chance to go to Pittsburgh," Marino said. "I don't
think anybody knew that. ... Cowher called me about playing, but I
had to make a decision within a couple of days, because he already
had a guy that he was going to sign."

Instead, the Pittsburgh native -- 38 years old and hampered by
injuries -- decided against playing in 2000.

"At the time, I just kept thinking back to how my body felt the
year before," he said. "And to me there was something special
about playing 17 years in one place. Although I was pretty close to
doing it, it just didn't feel right. I probably could have played
another year, no doubt."

The most prolific passer in NFL history, Marino will be inducted
Aug. 7 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Don Shula paid tribute during a telephone conference call
Wednesday -- and in the process took a shot at his successor as
Dolphins coach, Jimmy Johnson. Shula, unable to contain his disdain
for Johnson, bristled when asked if Marino benefited from having
only two coaches.

"You mean he had one coach," Shula said. "Look at the
numbers. They speak for themselves."

During 13 years with Shula, Marino averaged 28 touchdown passes
per season, and Miami had a winning percentage of .614, plus six
playoff victories. Throwing less often in his four years under
Johnson, Marino averaged 17 touchdown passes per season, and Miami
had a winning percentage of .563, plus two playoff wins.

In the wake of Shula's remark, Marino was asked if things would
have been different had he played his entire career under the Hall
of Fame coach.

"How did I know that was going to come up?" Marino said with a
chuckle. "Would it have been different? Who knows? Coach Shula was
an incredible influence on my career and a guy I respect very much,
and I'm real excited that he's going to be there [in Canton] in two
weeks."