Mark was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and lived there until his family moved to Spokane in 1969. While in Spokane, he played football, baseball and basketball for Shadle Park High School. After high school Mark attended Washington State University. While at WSU Mark established himself as the number two all time passing and total offense leader. He also earned All-America honors in 1984 and 1985 and was named the top quarterback in the Pac-10 Conference in 1985. His collegiate career ended with Mark throwing two fourth quarter touchdown passes just 49 seconds apart to lead his Senior Bowl team to victory.
The NFL came calling, and Rypien was picked by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of the 1986 NFL draft. At Washington, he led the Redskins to the 1991 NFL championship and earned MVP honors in the 1992 Super Bowl. Additionally, Mark earned two trips to the Pro Bowl.