Former Raiders QB remains mired in depressing football afterlife

Todd Marinovich was selected in the 1991 NFL draft by Raiders owner Al Davis against the advice of his scouts

  • 4 Oct 1992: Quarterback Todd Marinovich of the Los Angeles Raiders looks to pass the ball during a game against the New York Giants at the Los Angeles Memorial Stadium in os Angeles, California. The Cowboys won the game, 13-10Mandatory Credit: Ken Levin

  • 17 Nov 1990: Quarterback Todd Marinovich of the USC Trojans celebrates during the Trojans 45-42 victory over the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Wade /Allsport

  • Todd Marinovich, 47. COURTESY OF THE IRVINE POLICE DEPARTMENT

  • 17 Aug 1991: Quarterback Todd Marinovich of the Los Angeles Raiders stands on the sideline during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won the game 13-10.

  • Todd Marinovich, the troubled former football star talks about his recent struggles with drug addiction and run-ins with the law and his road to recovery in Irvine, California, on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Todd Marinovich, the troubled former football star talks about his recent struggles with drug addiction and run-ins with the law and his road to recovery in Irvine, California, on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Double-fisting paint cans, Todd Marinovich works on a mural on the side of the Gem Theatre in Garden Grove Friday afternoon. ///ADDITIONAL INFO: smith.0930.kjs — Photo by KEVIN SULLIVAN / Orange County Register — 9/26/14 Todd Marinovich, the former Orange County high school, USC and NFL quarterback whose career was derailed by drug addiction, is painting a mural on the side of the Gem Theatre in Garden Grove. 9/26/14

  • Todd Marinovich, the former Orange County high school, USC and NFL quarterback whose career was derailed by drug addiction, looks over the mural he is painting on the side of the Gem Theatre in Garden Grove Friday afternoon. ///ADDITIONAL INFO: smith.0930.kjs — Photo by KEVIN SULLIVAN / Orange County Register — 9/26/14 Todd Marinovich, the former Orange County high school, USC and NFL quarterback whose career was derailed by drug addiction, is painting a mural on the side of the Gem Theatre in Garden Grove. 9/26/14

  • ORG XMIT: USC quarterback Todd Marinovich, left, is pursued by Michigan defender T.J. Osman, #94, during the 1990 Rose Bowl game.

  • Todd Marinovich is interviewed while he played for the USC Trojans. (File photo by Bruce Chambers, Orange County Register)

  • ORG XMIT: Michigan defender Mike Teeter, #91, pursues USC quarterback Todd Marinovich.

  • Todd Marinovich, the troubled former football star talks about his recent struggles with drug addiction and run-ins with the law and his road to recovery in Irvine, California, on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Todd Marinovich, the troubled former football star talks about his recent struggles with drug addiction and run-ins with the law and his road to recovery in Irvine, California, on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Todd Marinovich is seen during his Raider days. (File photo by Chas Metivier, Orange County Register)

  • Former USC and Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich of Newport Beach holds daughter Coski, while wife Alix and son Baron enjoy sunset at Balboa Pier in this October 2012. Todd Marinovich was arrested Sunday after being found naked in an Irvine backyard with marijuana and another drug.(CINDY YAMANAKA, REGISTER FILE PHOTO)

  • Former USC and Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich, in an undated photo, has been arrested after being found naked with marijuana in a stranger’s backyard in Irvine.(ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER FILE PHOTO)

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The head-shaking saga of the Marinovich family is reaching its concluding chapters. And it’s predictably depressing.

A short primer: Marv Marinovich, a two-way lineman at USC in the early 1960s who played one game for the Oakland Raiders in 1965, set about building son Todd into the ultimate athlete, a perfectly engineered quarterback. A trainer (Marv worked for the Raiders after his cameo as a player), he combined his vast expertise and radical practices and turned Todd into what some called a robo QB.

Todd Marinovich. (COURTESY OF THE IRVINE POLICE DEPARTMENT)

In an attempt to create the consummate environment in which to incubate his young athlete, Marv controlled Todd to the granular level, down to what to eat and when. Sweets and fast food were not on the menu.

Todd was a starter for his high school team — as a freshman. He started at USC and was picked by the Raiders in the first round of the 1991 NFL draft (team owner Al Davis disregarded the advice of his scouts to select Brett Favre, according to the book “Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield“). Todd played eight games before substance abuse torpedoed his NFL career.

Present day: The Jan. 11 edition of Sports Illustrated checks in with a 6,400-word update. It’s hardly uplifting.

According to SI, Marv Marinovich, 79, lives in Mission Viejo and is wracked with Alzheimer’s. Traci, his oldest child, drops ’round every couple weeks, shows him old family photos, makes him smoothies.

Writes author Michael Rosenberg:

“She does not want to be here. It’s not just because he is a shadow of a man now. She remembers the man he was. All he seemed to care about was Todd. He neglected his daughter on a good day and insulted her on a bad one.”

Rosenberg reports that “Marv’s disease affected Todd (now 49) in a most unexpected way: As Marv’s memories disappeared, some of Todd’s came back.”

It’s ugly stuff. Marv knocking the teeth out of a bystander watching a basketball game at a community center. Marv smacking Todd in the face as they drive home from a practice or a game. (Marv, co-captain of USC’s 1962 national championship team, was ejected from the 1963 Rose Bowl for fighting.)

There is a revelation to be shared. For years it was assumed that Todd was in lockstep with his dad, forsaking candy and chips and doing whatever he was told. According to the book, Todd once was made to take his own, sugar-free cake to a friend’s birthday party. A compassionate parent at the event slipped Todd some of the good stuff.

Todd’s lust for junk food was also sated by his grandparents, and friends at school willing to trade “fruit for Cheetos.”

Todd began making some of his own decisions about the time he enrolled at USC. One of those decisions was to smoke dope and party hard. He played two seasons for the Trojans, completing 61.6 percent of his passes for 5,001 yards. Davis gave him a $2.25 million contract. “The culmination of his precise and carefully planned athletic career,” Rosenberg writes, “and he felt empty.”

The ensuing three decades (give or take), have been a blur of disturbing memories, bad acts, regrets, recriminations, periodic efforts to get clean and the inevitable  relapses.

It’s a long story that never seems to change. And it’s getting older.

“The end,” Rosenberg writes, “shrinks us all.”

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