Tony Mandarich

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Tony Mandarich
No. 77, 79
Offensive tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1966-09-23) September 23, 1966 (age 48)
Place of birth: Oakville, Ontario
Height: 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) Weight: 330 lb (150 kg)
Career information
College: Michigan State
NFL Draft: 1989 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Debuted in 1989 for the Green Bay Packers
Last played in 1998 for the Indianapolis Colts
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played 86
Games started 47
Fumble recoveries 2
Stats at NFL.com

Ante Josip "Tony" Mandarich (born September 23, 1966) is a former football offensive lineman of the NFL. He was the first round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1989, second overall behind quarterback Troy Aikman, and ahead of the third selection, running back Barry Sanders, the fourth selection, linebacker Derrick Thomas, and the fifth selection, cornerback Deion Sanders. Mandarich is the only player of those five not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is tied with Charles Rogers and Clint Jones as the second highest drafted Michigan State player ever (behind Bubba Smith). He is also the highest-drafted Canadian-born player in NFL history. In 1989, Sports Illustrated called him "the best offensive line prospect ever",[1] but he is now considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history.[2]

Football career[edit]

Mandarich played his senior year of high school football at Theodore Roosevelt High School (Kent, Ohio). Recruited to Michigan State University by defensive back coach Nick Saban, Mandarich played in the 1988 Rose Bowl, was named as a First-team All-American, an Outland Award finalist and a two-time Big Ten Lineman of the Year. Upon his entry into the 1989 NFL Draft, both scouts and media (most notably Sports Illustrated, which did a cover story on him, nicknaming him "The Incredible Bulk")[2] began trumpeting Mandarich as the best offensive line prospect ever, touting his "measurables", "He weighed 330, ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, did a standing long jump of 10' 3", leaped vertically 30" and bench-pressed 225 pounds an unheard-of 39 times". He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice and was also a colorful character, illustrated by such instances as challenging then–Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson to a fight, missing scheduled public appearances due to being drunk or hungover, his well-documented love of the band Guns N' Roses (he had a dog named Axl and also a tattoo of the cross-design from the cover of Appetite for Destruction on his arm), and referring to Green Bay as "a village".[2]

1989 NFL Draft[edit]

Going into the 1989 draft, Mandarich was considered the best prospect for an offensive linemen ever and a top 5 pick. Unheard of for an offensive lineman, Mandarich was selected 2nd overall by the Green Bay Packers.

Drafted as an offensive tackle, Mandarich never lived up to the very high expectations set for him. After a lengthy holdout, which was not settled until one week before the regular season kickoff, he spent most of his first year on the special teams unit. He was also known for having attitude issues. He was quoted "I am not like other players, I am Tony Mandarich, and they have to understand that. If they don't like it, that is just the way I am and they are going to learn to like it."[2] After three seasons of lackluster performance on a four-year contract, Mandarich was cut in 1992 by the Packers citing a non-football injury.[2] Mandarich is often referred to as one of the top 5 bust NFL draft picks of all time, having been drafted second overall and ahead of such to-be NFL stars as Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders, Steve Atwater, Eric Metcalf, and Andre Rison. The September 28, 1992, cover of Sports Illustrated featuring Mandarich labelled him "The NFL's Incredible Bust." [3]

The question of steroid use has been discussed as a possible factor in Mandarich's spectacular failure. Mandarich did not admit his steroid use until 2008. Until then, he publicly blamed his work ethic—in a 2003 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article: "I wanted to create as much hype as I could for many different reasons—exposure, negotiation leverage, you name it. And it all worked, except the performance wasn't there when it was time to play football."

After getting cut by the Packers, he went to Traverse City, Michigan for two years addicted to drugs and alcohol.[2] His family checked him into a rehabilitation clinic on March 23, 1995 and he became sober.[2] Mandarich returned to football for three years between 1996 and 1998 with the Indianapolis Colts. He had a more successful, if not particularly noteworthy, career with the Colts, and even started all 16 games during the 1997 season before retiring from football in 1998 due to a shoulder injury.

Post-football career[edit]

After his career was over, he moved back to Canada; he owned a golf course and remarried his wife Char in 2004.[2] From September 2004 until September 2005, Mandarich served as an NFL analyst for The Score TV sports network in Canada. He quit in October 2005 and moved to Arizona.[2]

He now runs a photography studio; he began doing nature photography as a hobby in 1990.[2] Mandarich has expanded his business, named Mandarich Media Group, to include photography, video production, web design, search engine optimization, and Internet marketing.[2]

In September 2008, Mandarich admitted to using steroids at Michigan State and faking a drug test before the 1988 Rose Bowl. Mandarich has denied using steroids while in the NFL but has admitted to an addiction to alcohol and painkillers while playing for the Packers.[4]

Tony had an older brother, John, who was instrumental in his development as an athlete, including sponsoring his younger brother's transfer to an American high school before Tony's senior year. John made his own reputation in professional football in the Canadian Football League. John Mandarich's early death from skin cancer is documented in Tony's memoir.

In the March 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated, he tells about his use and addiction and about his new book called My Dirty Little Secrets—Steroids, Alcohol & God.[2] In that book, Mandarich ascribes his underwhelming performance with the Green Bay Packers to his painkiller addiction, which buffeted his drive and work ethic. His addiction was such that he kept syringes in his athletic supporter to have his narcotics supply close at hand. Mandarich goes on to describe his traumatic and triumphant stint in rehabilitation, and his subsequent return to the NFL. "I didn't write the book for forgiveness," Mandarich said. "I wrote the book for explanation and for, hopefully, helping somebody see the light that there is hope for addiction or alcoholism and that you can change and save your life."[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Most Popular". CNN. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Weber, Jim. "Tony Mandarich is enjoying life behind the camera". 22 April 2011. Yahoo!. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  3. ^ John Biever/SI. "Tony Mandarich - OT, No. 2 overall, Green Bay Packers, 1989 - Top Draft Busts of the Modern Era - Photos - SI.com". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  4. ^ "NFL bust Mandarich says he used steroids at Michigan State but he was one of the greatest linemen ever - NFL - ESPN". ESPN. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 

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