John Matuszak: Wikis


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John Matuszak
Defensive end
Jersey #(s)
78, 79, 72
Born October 25, 1950(1950-10-25)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died June 17, 1989 (aged 38)
Career information
Year(s) 19731981
NFL Draft 1973 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
College Tampa
Professional teams
Career stats
Games played-started 123-78
Fumble recoveries 7
Touchdowns 1
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

John Daniel "Tooz" Matuszak (October 25, 1950 – June 17, 1989) was an American football defensive lineman in the National Football League who later became an actor. He was the first draft pick of 1973 and played most of his career with the Oakland Raiders until he retired after winning his second Super Bowl in 1981. Matuszak participated in the 1978 World's Strongest Man competition, where he placed ninth. As an actor, he is probably most remembered as deformed Sloth in the 1985 movie The Goonies and Tonda in Caveman.


Early life

Matuszak was born in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 1950 to Audrey and Marvin Matuszak, who was also a defensive lineman in the NFL and AFL. He was always big for his age, which became an advantage as a defensive lineman in football. When he eventually turned pro, he stood 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m) and weighed over 280 pounds (127 kilograms). He attended the University of Tampa where he was the star of their football team and a brother of the Theta Chi fraternity. (Incidentally, the football program at the University of Tampa ended after the 1974 season.) He also attended University of Missouri and Iowa Central Community College before going to Tampa.[1]

Football career

Matuszak, drafted by the Houston Oilers of the NFL, was the first draft pick of 1973. In addition to his contract with the Oilers, he joined the Houston Texans of the World Football League, but never played because of a restraining order that barred him from playing for two teams at the same time. The Oilers, displeased that he tried joining the WFL, traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs where he played until 1975. Then he found himself with the Raiders in 1976. He helped the Raiders win two Super Bowls (XI and XV) before retiring after the 1981 season. He played a total of 123 games in nine seasons of professional football.

His football career was often overshadowed by his even more famous (or infamous) partying and seemingly endless use of drugs. In his autobiography, he stated that he took many painkillers as well as other narcotics while playing professional football. Because of this, an article written for Sports Illustrated's website in January 2005 named him one of the top five all-time "bad boys" of the NFL.[2]


Matuszak became a fairly successful actor in the 1980s, making appearances in movies and on television, often portraying football players or gentle giants. His first major role was in the 1979 movie North Dallas Forty as a football player. He appeared in the movies Caveman, The Ice Pirates, and One Crazy Summer but is frequently remembered as deformed captive Sloth in The Goonies, the make-up for which took five hours to apply.[3] Matuszak's character Sloth wears an Oakland Raiders shirt in some scenes. He had numerous guest appearances in popular TV shows such as Perfect Strangers, M*A*S*H, The Dukes of Hazzard, Hunter, Silver Spoons, The A-Team, 1st & Ten and Miami Vice.


His autobiography, Cruisin' with the Tooz, written with Steve Delsohn was published in 1987. On June 17, 1989, Matuszak died of heart failure in Burbank, California. He was 38 years old. His death was caused by an overdose of dextropropoxyphene although some cocaine was found in his system; pneumonia was also thought to be a contributing cause of his demise.


  • John Matuszak and Steve Delsohn. Cruisin' with the Tooz. 1987. ISBN 0-531-15055-0.

External links

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