The former Miami Dolphins quarterback has been admired for his Hall of Fame playing career and for his off-field accomplishments, which include creating a foundation to help autistic children and their families.
But 13 years after completing his last NFL pass, Marino finds himself in an embarrassing situation.
The New York Post on Thursday reported Marino, 51, fathered a child out of wedlock in 2005 with a then-35-year-old CBS production assistant and paid her millions to keep quiet.
Few local news items this week figured to be as stunning as learning a Miami anti-aging clinic allegedly sold performance-enhancing drugs to star athletes.
Then came the Marino bombshell.
To his credit, he quickly released a statement admitting his transgression.
"This is a personal and private matter," Marino said in the statement. "I take full responsibility both personally and financially for my actions now as I did then. We mutually agreed to keep our arrangement private to protect all parties involved."
Marino is right when he says, "it's a personal matter." Unfortunately for him and other famous people, personal matters of celebrities become public matters in today's TMZ world.
To say the Marino news item was shocking is a bit strong. Call me jaded or cynical, but little shocks me anymore. At most, I'll admit to being surprised.
As for being disappointed, that's a feeling likely shared by two groups of individuals: Marino's family and fans who had the star placed on a pedestal.
Such fans shouldn't blame the ex-QB for failing them -- they should blame themselves for creating, in their minds, an unrealistic role model.
Look, Marino is not the first athlete or celebrity to father a love child.
One of the more famous such controversies involved former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey, who was nicknamed "Mr. Clean" when he played in the 1970s and ‘80s. There even was talk that a U.S. Senate seat could be in Garvey's post-career life.
Then in '89, two women announced almost simultaneously that they were bearing Garvey's children – this, as the divorced Garvey was about to marry a third woman.
There have been other affairs, out-of-wedlock children and sex scandals. Such things can happen when wealthy, famous athletes constantly have opportunities thrown their way.
What Marino admitted to doing doesn't necessarily make him a bad person. It makes him a person who made a mistake.
Marino and his family apparently had learned to deal with the situation long before it become public.
As for fans who revered Marino for his playing career and his helping others, they should continue to do so. They just should understand their hero is not perfect. He's human.