Shutdown Corner - NFL

It must be a bittersweet time of year for guys like Tony Mandarich, Ryan Leaf, Andre Ware, and Todd Marinovich. The bitter part is that people are calling, wanting to get a cautionary story about what it's like to be an NFL draft bust. The sweet part is, hey, at least the phone's ringing.

Esquire magazine picked Todd Marinovich for their brutal profile (some, but not a lot, of naughty language in there). It's not brutal because of the way Esquire handles the story, it's brutal because the story of Todd Marinovich is so brutal. I guess you could call it the story of a draft bust, but really, it's the story of what happens when a guy just can't shake the worst kind of drug habit. Here's a snippet from the portion dealing with Todd's brief NFL career:

The fifteenth week of the season, Todd made his first trip to New Orleans. After a long night of rum drinks in the Quarter, he ended up in bed with two stewardesses; he barely made it back for the pregame meal. The Superdome held seventy thousand screaming fans. "The noise was deafening. My head. I was in hell," Todd remembers now. "I was barely able to make it through warm-ups. I was sweating profusely, trying not to vomit."

Midway through the game, the Raiders' first-string quarterback, Jay Schroeder, was hit simultaneously from both sides, injuring an ankle. "Coach Shell looks at me, like, Are you ready to go?" Todd recalls. "I shook him off like a pitcher on the mound. I was like, Are you [expletive]ing kidding me?"

And another, this one with the Arena league:

Todd returned to football for the last time in the spring of 2000 — a mercurial stint with the Los Angeles Avengers in the Arena Football League. His first year, he tied the record for most touchdowns in a single game despite undergoing severe heroin withdrawal; after [expletive]ting his pants during warm-ups, he came out and threw ten touchdowns to win a game against the Houston Thunderbears. That same year, at age thirty-one, he was named to the all-rookie team. The next season, he became L.A.'s franchise player. The day he picked up his signing bonus, he was busted buying heroin. With him in the truck was $30,000 cash in an envelope. Toward the end of the season, he was ejected from successive games for throwing a clipboard and a hand towel at officials. Finally, he was suspended from the team.

"At that point, heroin became my full-time job," Todd says.

It's a fascinating story and profile of Marinovich, who still doesn't seem to know exactly what happened to him. He's got kind of a Wade Aikman gig at the moment, teaching young quarterbacks, and is hopefully on the way to doing some more coaching.

I hope there's a happy ending, somewhere along the line. If you've got a few minutes today, it's an article worth perusing.

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