NEW YORK—Dan Marino, the former Dolphins quarterback, former multiple NFL all-time record holder, and current co-host of HBO's Inside The NFL, was the host, producer, and head writer of the hour-long HBO special Mr. 278, which aired Monday and commemorates Brett Favre breaking the all-time record for interceptions.
"Join me in saluting Brett Favre for breaking the all-time interception record of 277 set by George Blanda—truly a milestone for the ages," Marino intoned during the opening montage, which featured Favre throwing some of his most memorable picks. "Some say records were made to be broken—personally, I've never believed that—but in any case the career interception mark was believed to be unreachable. It takes a player with an unusual combination of not knowing when to retire, not knowing when to stop trying to rack up the completions, and not knowing when to stop trying to throw touchdowns. And it seems that lucky player is everyone's big hero quarterback, Brett Favre."
"I once held all the major records, but I never came close on interceptions," Marino added. "Also, I want to make it clear that I still have the records for passing yards in a season and in a career, but I have to hand it to Brett: He is now the interception record holder. Congratulations there, buddy."
Marino began work on Mr. 278 late in the 2006 season, when it became apparent that Favre was on pace to break Blanda's interception record, as well as Marino's for touchdown passes, sometime in the 2007 season. When HBO producers balked at the idea of expanding their original planned 30-second supporting segment, Marino offered to work the show without pay and secured advertising commitments from NutriSystem, Papa John's Pizza, and Isotoner gloves.
"I played in the NFL for many good years, which is why I set records for attempts, completions, and total seasons with 3,000 yards passing," Marino's voice can be heard to say as an on-screen graphic displayed the dozens of defensive players who had intercepted a Favre pass. "I even set a record for consecutive 3,000-yard seasons. Brett Favre has broken all of those, largely since he decided not to retire yet. And now, he has one of the most memorable records of all: interceptions."
Marino then interviewed more than 30 current and former NFL players who had participated in Favre's record interception streak, including Brain Urlacher, Deion Sanders, Troy Vincent, and John Lynch. Marino devoted special attention to Sean Taylor, who was on the receiving end of Favre's record-breaking 278th interception, an ill-advised downfield sideline attempt thrown off the back foot, which Taylor neatly high-pointed.
Marino also interviewed players who had intercepted Favre passes in college, during Favre's high school career in Mississippi, and during Packers training camp. In one poignant segment, Marino tracked down advertising copywriter Leroy Holsapple, the man who may have first intercepted Favre when, as an 8-year-old, he picked off a wild toss across the middle of the field during a 1979 Pop Warner game.
"We've seen a lot of interceptions tonight," Marino said in conclusion as another painstakingly edited Favre interception montage, the ninth and last in the program, played behind him. "Were all of them were his fault? Maybe not—it's not for us to say. Am I jealous of his record? Maybe. I never considered myself to be all that concerned with statistics, and with my plus-168 TD-to-interception record, I'll never know what it's like to be "Mr. 278," the all-time interception king. Because the man who holds that record, perhaps forever, is Brett Favre."