When Brees breaks Marino's record, is an asterisk warranted?

  • By Simon Samano NFL.com
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Barring some unforeseen circumstance, Saints quarterback Drew Brees (and possibly three others) will break Dan Marino's NFL single-season record of 5,084 passing yards.

Completely obliterate it, actually.

Impressive? Absolutely. As impressive? Not so much, as so eloquently explained by CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, who had the audacity to suggest an asterisk be placed next to Brees' name in the NFL record book after Marino's 27-year-old record falls.

"Like Marino, Brees is using pinpoint accuracy to shred defenses," Freeman writes. "Unlike Marino, Brees is doing it with liberal rules that leave defenses playing with one hand tied behind their back. In effect, Brees' record will be severely watered down. So much so, that it almost deserves an asterisk."

A statement like that might cause a voodoo spell to be cast upon Freeman down in New Orleans. Outside of The Big Easy, though, and definitely in Miami, some will understand his point of view.

Freeman goes on to write that the 1980s are vastly different than today's NFL, making Marino's record more astonishing.

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For better or worse, the NFL rules have drastically changed. Players can't hit quarterbacks like they used to; defenders can't touch receivers beyond 5 yards; and there's little reason for receivers to fear going over the middle, thanks to the league's crackdown on hitting "defenseless receivers."

All of it has created the pass-happy NFL we know today. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Brees, who needs 305 yards for the record, will break Marino's mark while averaging six more pass attempts per game (Brees currently has 41 to Marino's 35) and with a better completion percentage (Brees currently is at 71.5 to Marino's 64.2).

So is Brees' soon-to-be record worthy of an asterisk? It's hard to go that far, but the point has been taken.