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MARINO LOSES NO. 1 RANKING AMONG NFL QUARTERBACKS

SHARE MARINO LOSES NO. 1 RANKING AMONG NFL QUARTERBACKS

For those Miami Dolphins fans silly enough to put stock in the NFL's quarterback-rating system, this is going to be bad news.

Dan Marino is no longer No. 1.Marino, rated tops among the all-time NFL passers for the past several seasons, has fallen to No. 2. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, which compiles statistics for the NFL, Marino has fallen behind the 49ers' Joe Montana. Montana has a 92.0 rating to Marino's 91.5. Going into last season, Marino had a 94.1-92.5 lead, but a subpar season - in particular 23 interceptions - cost him the top spot.

More bad news for Dolphin fans: Bob Griese is no longer in the top 20. He has dropped five notches to 25th.

The saving grace is this: The quarterback rating system, a formula that takes into account touchdown passes, interceptions, completion percentage and yards per attempt, in all probability is the silliest statistic in major-league sports. It's so complex that you have to have a computer to figure it out, and it says absolutely nothing.

For instance: Seattle's Dave Krieg is the fourth-rated passer of all time; former Colt Johnny Unitas is only 20th. The Jets' Ken O'Brien is fifth; former Viking and Giant Fran Tarkenton is 17th. The Patriots' Tony Eason is 14th; former Packer Bart Starr is 15th.

As for Griese, he can relax in good company. Other quarterbacks not in the top 20 include Terry Bradshaw, Sammy Baugh, Joe Namath, Norm Van Brocklin, Ken Stabler, Bob Waterfield, Otto Graham, John Elway, Bobby Layne, Sid Luckman and Y.A. Tittle.

Part of the reason the system values present-day quarterbacks over those from the past is that the game has opened up, with more freedom for offensive linemen and more restrictions on defensive backs. Part is that the declining years of a retired player are included.

And part of it is that it's a bad formula.

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The Denver Broncos finally have found a way, other than losing Super Bowls, to alienate their rabid fans. They have signed former Cowboys kicker Rafael Septien, who in 1987 pleaded guilty to indecency with a 10-year-old girl.

How many times do you have to test positive for that before the NFL bans you for life?

The flip side of the controversy is that incumbent kicker Rich Karlis set up Denver's Family Tree, a group that works with abused children.

When Septien tried out for the Dolphins last year (he wasn't offered a job), more than a few players raised eyebrows. With Denver, even the owner is doing the same.

"I have to pull a Pontius Pilate on this one," said owner Pat Bowlen, washing his hands of the problem. "You want to provide him with the opportunity, but he'd probably be better off in another community."

Oh, yeah? Which one?

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Mark Gastineau, the defensive end who won't go away, still wants to return next year after retiring during the 1988 season. The Vikings, Chargers and Seahawks seem the most interested, with the Raiders also a possibility.

Gastineau, whose contract with the Jets for next year would pay him $877,000, was offended when one report said he was down to 230 pounds. So he called a New York writer, met him for lunch and brought a scale that showed he weighed 262.

Fine. Anyone want a defensive end who can't play the run and who is likely to walk out on his teammates at any time?

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Call the series "The Untackleables." Cowboys running back Herschel Walker went through an introductory training session with the FBI last week. Walker, who majored in criminal justice and third downs at Georgia, has expressed an interest in becoming an FBI agent.