Jeff Gravley

'Elway to Marino' and the Panthers draft

Posted April 24, 2013

If you haven't seen ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary 'Elway to Marino' find a way to watch it. While John Elway and Dan Marino were the key subjects, the most valuable player of the doc is the agent of the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Marvin Demoff. 

The 1983 draft was incredibly deep at quarterback. Elway, Marino, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brien and Todd Blackledge were all first round picks. Marvin Demoff kept meticulous, hand-written notes from the meetings he had with teams interested in Elway and Marino. In several parts of the documentary, you see Demoff scanning and reading his notes aloud.

We found out that the Raiders would have traded Howie Long to the Bears in a three-team trade for the rights to Elway. San Francisco coach Bill Walsh considered trading Joe Montana to the Colts for Elway, one year after Montana and the Niners won the Super Bowl.

Elway didn't want to play for Colts coach Frank Kush and threatened to play baseball for the Yankees if Baltimore picked him as the overall number one selection. Colts rookie GM Ernie Accorsi wanted five draft picks for the top pick and held strong through phone calls from many teams. When the first pick was announced it was John Elway to the Baltimore Colts.

Colts owner Robert Irsay was contacted directly by Broncos owner Edgar Kaiser who pulled off the trade giving up a backup quarterback, a draft pick and the 4th pick of the 1983 draft Chris Hinton for John Elway. Accorsi was so furious and he resigned immediately. 

So Marvin Demoff was able to see Elway get his wish but it was a painful draft for Demoff and Dan Marino. After Elway was picked, the quarterback selections were, in order, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brien and finally at number 27, Dan Marino by the Dolphins. He was selected just ahead of the final pick in the first round, Darrell Green, who went on to a Hall of Fame career in Washington.

Needless to say, things worked out well for Marino, Kelly and Elway who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 1983 draft even led to a very successful career for Colts GM Ernie Accorsi, who called the shots in Cleveland from 1985-1992 and joined the NY Giants in 1994. Accorsi was the 10-year architect of the Giants 2008 Super Bowl win and his fingerprints were on the 2012 Lombardi Trophy.

Most recently, Accorsi has been a consultant for the Carolina Panthers. He listed one of his former Giants co-workers, Dave Gettleman, among the 5 candidates for Jerry Richardson to hire as the new general manager in Charlotte. Whether Gettleman was Accorsi's first choice, he was Jerry Richardson's selection.

Watching Accorsi in the 'Elway to Marino' documentary talk about his first draft as a GM, I wonder what Gettleman will be like in his first draft? There is no Elway or Marino in this draft but the Panthers what will the Panthers do with the 14th pick in the first and 44th in the second? They may make calls and take calls with those picks as bait only to wind up keeping both to get what Gettleman has said, two starters.

The Panthers rookie GM has said this draft isn't about what he does but what the organization does. I have to believe with the amount of time he spent in the trenches of New York, Gettleman has a wealth of knowledge to use. How willing will he be to deal and how firm will he be with other teams talking trades?

We don't have access to those answers but it will come out in the play of the prospects that the Panthers pick. 



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  • StunGunn Apr 26, 2013

    View quoted thread

    You nailed it: the Panthers have stayed the same, while other teams have improved with the draft and trades. I'm not sure they'll be able to better their 7-9 record, and if that happens, good bye Rivera and a lot of players.

  • Hammerhead Apr 25, 2013

    View quoted thread

    At least. Shoot, they might have even caught the Giants, who have 11 NFL Championships.

  • Toddler10-21 Apr 25, 2013

    sburks our Steelers would probably have nine super bowls instead of a league leading six.

  • sburks1906 Apr 25, 2013

    Excellent "30 for 30" piece. I still cannot believe my Steelers passed on Dan Marino. Makes me think "what if?"...

  • VT1994Hokie Apr 25, 2013

    Solid article. Brought back some memories. Just hoping that the Panthers can make it right.

  • Smilester Apr 25, 2013

    The cap is easily manipulated. That is why the Panthers went from $16 million over last month to almost $6 million under now. The Panthers were a few defensive plays away from being 11-5 & being in the playoffs. I hope they can trade back. If the can find a starting caliber DT, CB & S out of this draft they will be pretty good this year. Their main problem is the rest of the division has improved & they have basically stayed the same.

  • NotUrTypicalAmerican Apr 25, 2013

    It's not going to work out for the next two years either. The Panties are in cap trouble. You guys have only enough to sign your draft picks and to do any more than that you'll have to let some vets go. 13 million tied up in running backs? lol

  • StunGunn Apr 24, 2013

    I recorded the 30 for 30, but haven't seen it yet. After reading your piece, Jeff, I'm so glad I did record it. I've never been an Elway fan - he always seemed to have a bit of attitude. Things that go on behind the scenes must be fascinating. I remember when Eli Manning refused to go to the Chargers, probably on the advice of his father. I held a grudge against Manning for that, but let it go when Philip Rivers began to thrive in San Diego. It all worked out for the best - back in '83 as well as when Manning and Rivers were drafted many years later.

    I'm a Panthers fan, so I hope they use their picks wisely. It sure did work out the last two years!

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