Todd Marinovich: Wikis


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Todd Marinovich
Jersey #(s)
12(pro), 13(college), 7(high school)
Born July 4, 1969 (1969-07-04) (age 40)
San Leandro, California
Career information
Year(s) 19912000
NFL Draft 1991 / Round: 1 / Pick: 24
College USC
Professional teams
*Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career stats
TD-INT 8-9
Yards 1,345
QB Rating 66.4
Stats at
Career highlights and awards
  • AFL All-Rookie Team (2000)
  • Record: Most Touchdown Passes in single game (10)

Todd Marvin Marinovich (born July 4, 1969 in San Leandro, California) is a former American and Canadian football quarterback. He is known for the well-documented, intense focus of his training as a young athlete as well as his quick fall from grace upon reaching the professional leagues due to personal problems. He played for the Los Angeles Raiders of the National Football League and also had stints in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League. He is of Croatian ancestry.


Early development and national attention

"Some guys think the most important thing in life is their jobs, the stock market, whatever. To me, it was my kids. The question I asked myself was, How well could a kid develop if you provided him with the perfect environment?"
— Marv Marinovich[1]

Marinovich was born Marvin Scott Marinovich, which was written on his birth certificate, but his mother changed it a few years later to Todd Marvin Marinovich. He spent most of his childhood being raised on the Balboa Peninsula of Newport Beach, California.[1] His father, Marv Marinovich, had been a two-way lineman and a captain at USC during the 1962 national championship season and player in the 1963 Rose Bowl (where he was ejected for fighting). Marinovich's mother, Trudi (née Fertig), was a high school athlete and sorority girl at USC; she dropped out of college after her sophomore year to marry the football captain, Marv. After a brief time as an NFL lineman, Marv studied Eastern Bloc training methods and was hired by Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis as one of the NFL's first strength-and-conditioning coaches.[1] Marv Marinovich later opened his own athletic research center, and began applying the techniques to his young son, introducing athletic training before he could leave the crib and continuing it throughout his childhood and adolescence.[2] After over-training and harming his own NFL career by focusing too much on weight and bulk, Marv saw an opportunity to use techniques focusing on speed and flexibility (techniques that later formed the basis for modern core-based training). During her pregnancy, Trudi used no salt, sugar, alcohol, or tobacco; as a baby, Todd was fed only fresh vegetables, fruits, and raw milk.[1]

Marinovich had a very successful high school career, becoming the first freshman to start a high school football game in Orange County.[1] He began his career at Mater Dei High School, a large Catholic high school in Santa Ana that had turned out Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte (and later winner Matt Leinart). During his two years at Mater Dei, he threw for nearly 4,400 yards and 34 touchdowns; however, the team's record was mediocre, with no blocking for Marinovich, so his father engineered a transfer to Capistrano Valley High School, a public school in Mission Viejo, California. Marv had been friends with Capistrano Valley's coach, Dick Enright, who was a USC alumnus and former coach of the University of Oregon where he groomed quarterback Dan Fouts.[1] Under Enright, Todd flourished and broke the all-time Orange County passing record and later the national high school passing record by passing for 9,914 yards, including 2,477 his senior year.[2] He received numerous honors, including being named a Parade All-American, the National High School Coaches Association's offensive player of the year, the Dial Award for the national high school scholar-athlete of the year in 1987, as well as the Touchdown Club's national high school player of the year.[1][2]

Marinovich took his college selection seriously, noting: "This is the biggest decision of my life. It means not only where I will play football but, most likely, who I will marry, who my best friends for life will be, where I will live. It means everything. And the one thing I know for sure is I'm too young to make this kind of decision by myself."[2] He was heavily recruited by colleges; as a freshman he began getting letters from Stanford University, and at a Stanford camp he worked out with then-NFL quarterback and Stanford alum John Elway. Almost every major program recruited him, and he soon narrowed his choices down to Stanford, Arizona State, BYU, Washington, Miami and the University of Southern California (USC).[2]

As his high school career progressed, Marinovich's unique development led to growing media attention. In January 1988, a California magazine placed him on the cover with the headline: "ROBO QB: THE MAKING OF A PERFECT ATHLETE."[1] During his senior season, Marinovich came to national attention when Sports Illustrated published an article, titled "Bred To Be A Superstar", that discussed his unique upbringing under his father who wanted to turn his son into the "perfect quarterback". The article declared Marinovich "America's first test-tube athlete", and mentioned his mother took him to museums, played him classical music and jazz while banning cartoons as too violent and instead viewing films by Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. His father assembled a team of advisers to tutor him on every facet of the game.[2][3] In a noted passage, the article described that:

He has never eaten a Big Mac or an Oreo or a Ding Dong. When he went to birthday parties as a kid, he would take his own cake and ice cream to avoid sugar and refined white flour. He would eat homemade catsup, prepared with honey. He did consume beef but not the kind injected with hormones. He ate only unprocessed dairy products. He teethed on frozen kidney. When Todd was one month old, Marv was already working on his son's physical conditioning. He stretched his hamstrings. Pushups were next. Marv invented a game in which Todd would try to lift a medicine ball onto a kitchen counter. Marv also put him on a balance beam. Both activities grew easier when Todd learned to walk. There was a football in Todd's crib from day one. "Not a real NFL ball," says Marv. "That would be sick; it was a stuffed ball."[2]

Because of his strict upbringing and almost mechanical lifestyle under his father, some nicknamed him the "Robo QB."[3] Long after Marinovich's professional career had ended, an ESPN columnist named the elder Marinovich one of history's "worst sports fathers."[1] Marinovich eventually decided on USC, after being impressed during an official campus visit.[2] His parents had both gone to USC and his sister, Traci, was a senior there.[1] His uncle, Craig Fertig, was a quarterback at USC and, at the time Marinovich matriculated, an assistant athletic director.[2]

During his high school career, Marinovich started drinking in after-game parties and smoking marijuana. His parents divorced around the time he transferred high schools, and he lived in a small apartment with his father for his final two high school seasons. Marinovich enjoyed the period, noting: "Probably the best part of my childhood was me and Marv's relationship my junior and senior years. After the divorce, he really loosened up. It was a bachelor pad. We were both dating."[1] His use of marijuana grew to the point that he would meet with a group of friends--athletes, skaters, surfers and musicians--everyday before school to share a bong before classes in what they nicknamed "Zero Period." Having previously dealt with social anxiety, Marinovich found marijuana relaxed him and did not affect him later during sporting events. However, the rumors of his use spread to opposing fans which began to taunt him with chants of "Marijuana-vich" during basketball games.[1]

College career

Marinovich entered USC as a Fine Arts major. He redshirted his first year during the 1988 season, as the Trojans were led by Rodney Peete. Already under intense pressure as a high school prospect, he was soon overwhelmed by the combination of high expectation and the many temptations that were prohibited under his strict upbringing. He was torn between embracing the freedom and following his father's teachings, noting that "I'm finally away from my dad telling me everything to do. And I've got to say I have taken advantage of it. Full advantage. He keeps telling me, 'Come on, you've got the rest of your life to fool around. Not now.' I know he's right. But there are a lot of distractions at SC."[3] At one point Marinovich left school in his freshman year to see his mother (his parents divorced while he was in high school), stating "I wish I could go somewhere else and be someone else. I don't want to be Todd Marinovich."[3]

Outside of his personal travails, Marinovich's football career for USC had an abrupt start. As a redshirt freshman in 1989, he was set to back up junior Pat O'Hara; however in the fall preseason practices, O'Hara suffered a major leg injury that thrust Marinovich to the starting spot. He became the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener for USC since World War II. After an upset loss to Illinois in the opener, where his performance garnered some criticism, Marinovich was able to rise to the challenge of the position: He completed 197 of 321 passes during the regular season for 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with a 61.4% rate, just .1% behind the NCAA freshman record. UPI and The Sporting News named him the College Freshman of the Year for 1989 and he was the only freshman on the All-Pac-10 team and the first freshman quarterback ever named.[3] Against Washington State, he led a last-minute comeback that became known as "the Drive", where he led the offense on a ninety-one-yard march downfield with eleven crucial completions, including a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion, that prompted former President Ronald Reagan to call Marinovich in order to congratulate him and welcome him over to his home in Los Angeles.[1] The Trojans went 9—2—1, won the conference and the season was capped by a victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl in what was Bo Schembechler's final game as a head coach.[3]

Marinovich entered the 1990 season as a redshirt sophomore and a Heisman Trophy-candidate. However, the pressure he felt off the field began to manifest itself in personal problems that affected his performance on the team. His play became erratic. After finding out Marinovich had been skipping numerous classes, then-USC head coach Larry Smith suspended him from a game against Arizona State. He developed an ear infection that prevented him from practicing.[4] His relationship with Smith became increasingly rocky --culminating when Marinovich began yelling at Smith in full view of a national TV audience during the loss in the John Hancock Bowl. Marinovich was arrested for cocaine possession a month later. Tired of the program and having previously considered his options, Marinovich soon left for the NFL after his redshirt sophomore season.[4][5]

Professional career


In 1991, Marinovich signed with the IMG agency and began preparing for the NFL Draft. Working with his father again, he got in the best shape of his life and, at the recommendation of IMG, changed his hairstyle from long surfer hair to a buzz cut that emulated the more conservative Johnny Unitas. Marinovich practiced in front of NFL scouts at East Los Angeles College, where he threw an aerial display with a former NFL receiver. Among the attendees was Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis. At the NFL Draft he was selected in the first round by the Raiders; he was the 24th pick overall, signing a 3-year, $2.25 million deal as well as the 2nd quarterback taken, and was selected before future pro-bowl quarterback Brett Favre.[1]

Marinovich made his NFL debut on Monday Night Football, in an exhibition game against the Dallas Cowboys on August 12, 1991. Entering the game with fifteen minutes remaining, he moved the Raiders downfield, completing three of four passes for sixteen yards and a touchdown.[1] He did not start a game until the final week of the season, where he impressed with 3 touchdown passes against the Kansas City Chiefs in a close loss. Because of this great debut he started the following week against the Chiefs in the playoffs, but was very poor, throwing for just 140 yards with 4 interceptions in a 10-6 loss and smashing a locker room mirror with his helmet after the game.

After an 0-2 start in 1992, former starter Jay Schroeder was benched and Marinovich, the fan favorite, became the starter. He threw for 395 yards in a loss in his first start that season and lost the following week as the Raiders started 0-4. He then won 3 of his next 4 games before falling to the Cowboys. His greatest game during that span was his first and only start against the Buffalo Bills on October 11, 1992. Marinovich completed 11 of 21 passes for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns. The first touchdown pass was the first score of the game as Marinovich drove the Raiders to the Buffalo goal line and finished off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Eric Dickerson. After a Buffalo field goal, Marinovich connected with wide receiver Tim Brown and Brown turned upfield and outraced the entire Bills defense for a 52-yard touchdown. Marinovich also helped guide two drives that added field goals and increased the Raiders lead. The Raiders eventually beat Buffalo 20-3.[6] The following week Marinovich started against the Eagles, seeing 3 of his first 10 passes intercepted. Schroeder then took back the starting job, and due to his repeated substance abuse issues, Marinovich never played again in the NFL and was eventually released by the Raiders.

Marinovich had major substance abuse issues throughout his NFL career. His use of marijuana continued throughout his career. During his rookie season, he was placed as the third string quarterback to help transition him into the game; as a result of not playing, he began to increase his partying and drug use, including taking pharmaceutical amphetamines before games. Because of his college arrest for cocaine possession, the NFL required him to submit to frequent drug tests. Marinovich felt he could not operate without marijuana, so he created a system to get around it: he would collect bottles of clean urine, donated by his non-using friends, in the refrigerator at his Manhattan Beach townhouse, then bring them to practice in a small sunscreen bottle. At practice, he would pour the contents of the bottle into a cup of coffee and leave it in his locker to warm up during a team meeting, then place the coffee back in the bottle, hide it in his shorts and use the bottle during his test. At one point Marinovich had run out of clean urine, and in asking a former USC teammate and non-user to supply urine after a party, did not take into account the amount of alcohol he had consumed; as a result "Marinovich's urine" registered a blood-alcohol level four times the legal limit and caused the Raiders to force him into alcohol detox. His team held an intervention for him after the season, and he spent forty-five days at a rehab facility. The following season he tried to stop using marijuana, and instead shifted to using LSD after games because it would not show up on the drug test. His play suffered and his coaches complained he was not grasping the complex offense. He later failed his second NFL drug test and went back into rehab. In training camp before his third season, Marinovich failed his third NFL drug test, this time for marijuana, and his NFL career was over.[1]


After taking a long vacation in Mexico, Marinovich attempted to join the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, only to blow out his knee on the first day of training camp. During recovery, one of his high school marijuana smoking friends got him to join a band and introduced him to heroin. The band ended when their bassist was arrested. Soon afterward, Marinovich was arrested for drugs and served three months in various jails.[1]

In April 1999, Marinovich was cleared to reenter the NFL. He soon herniated a disk playing recreational basketball. That summer, he tried out and received interest from the San Diego Chargers and the Chicago Bears, but he failed the physical examination so no deals could be made. He ended up signing as a backup quarterback with the BC Lions of the CFL. Although Marinovich had mostly ceased his drug use, his Canadian teammates and lax enforcement in Vancouver allowed him to quickly relapse. His use of heroin and cocaine increased and his weight dropped as he would spend almost all of his free time using drugs, and at one point he severely cut his hand with a crack pipe during halftime and had to covertly bandage himself. Despite being asked to stay with the team for another season, Marinovich realized he was in a bad situation and opted to leave.[1]

Marinovich returned to Los Angeles in 2000 and joined the expansion Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League. Despite undergoing severe heroin withdrawal, Marinovich had a strong season. He tied the record for most touchdowns in a single game, throwing ten scores against the Houston Thunderbears. He was named to the all-rookie team and the Avenger's franchise player. However, the day he received his signing bonus he was arrested for buying heroin. His career continued to fall apart as he was ejected from subsequent games for throwing things at referees and eventually suspended from the team in 2001.

Despite moments of brilliance, Marinovich's professional career is widely considered to be a bust. In 2004, Marinovich was included in's list of The 25 Biggest Sports Flops, coming in at number 4 on the editors' list, and number 7 on the readers' list.[7] His name, along with that of Ryan Leaf, is often used as an eponym for a highly vaunted football player who turns out to be a huge disappointment.


By 2004, Marinovich was broke and living back on the Balboa Peninsula, either as a guest of friends or living on the beach. Despite his transience and drug use, he remained pleasant and others were willing to house him. He had lost his car and drivers license, so he stopped being able to get or afford heroin. Instead he shifted to methamphetamines. He became an avid skateboarder. His looks and lifestyle became a magnet for the police: when he was arrested in 2004 for skateboarding in a prohibited area, police found methamphetamines and syringes on him. In May 2005, after police approached him in a public bathhouse, he fled by bicycle and was apprehended fifteen blocks away by officers that included a former high school teammate. Although he was not found with drugs on his possession, he was charged with violating probation. However, due to the intervention of twenty-three of his former USC teammates who put up the $4,600 required for him to enter an inpatient treatment program, Todd avoided going back to jail. For the next year, he was in and out of rehab facilities.[1]

Early in the morning of August 26, 2007, Newport Beach police officers saw Marinovich skateboarding on the boardwalk with a large guitar case. When they began approaching him, Marinovich, who knew he was in violation of law by skateboarding on the boardwalk, tried to flee. Once he saw helicopters and dogs were in use, he immediately surrendered and was arrested for possession of drugs, resisting arrest, and violating the skateboard ordinance. He was again sent to an Orange County minimum-security facility where he picked vegetables and fixed irrigation equipment. His case was handled through a special drug court that offered him suspension of a longer sentence in exchange for regular drug testing, various kinds of therapy and meetings with a probation officer.[1]

Marinovich began working several part time jobs, including scraping barnacles off of boats and leading weekly group meetings at a rehab center. He also makes money painting murals in residential homes. Some of his time is also spent as a private quarterback coach.[1]

Marinovich still follows USC football and occasionally attends open practices at USC.[8]

Legal troubles

Marinovich has had a number of arrests, many of which have been related to his ongoing drug problems, including nine arrests in Orange County, California alone[9].

Marinovich was arrested in 1991, while still a student at USC, on cocaine possession.[5]

In 1997 he was arrested on suspicion of growing marijuana and served two months in jail and a third at a minimum-security facility in Orange County known as the Farm. In April 2000, Marinovich was arrested for sexual assault,[10] followed by a 2001 arrest on suspicion of heroin.

In August 2004, he was arrested by Newport Beach police for skateboarding in a prohibited zone.[1]

Marinovich was arrested in a public bathroom in Newport Beach, California in May 2005, after being found with apparent drug paraphernalia. He fled on a bicycle, but was caught a fifteen blocks away.[1] He gave his occupation as "unemployed artist" and "anarchist" on the police report, which stated that his pupils were dilated and his behavior "erratic."[11] He was ordered to undergo six months of drug rehabilitation followed by six months of outpatient treatment as a result.[12]

In August 2007, Marinovich was arrested and charged with felony drug possession and resisting a police order after being stopped for skateboarding near the Newport Beach, California Pier boardwalk, where skateboarding is forbidden by local ordinance. Marinovich ran away when officers tried to stop him. He was found hiding in a carport about six blocks away. He had a guitar case, and inside officers found about a gram of powdered methamphetamine, a metal spoon and a hypodermic needle, Sgt. Evan Sailor said. Marinovich was arrested and pleaded not guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor counts of unauthorized possession of a hypodermic and resisting a police officer. [13]

During a period of sobriety from 2007-8, Marinovich worked with Todd Kramer, founder of the Kramer Center at Newport Beach, and the National Drug Treatment Center to help young athletes overcome addiction and to stay clean.[14] In August 2008, after one year of sobriety, Todd Marinovich was hired as a lecturer by Newport Coast Recovery, a men-only drug and alcohol treatment facility in Newport Beach.

On April 3, 2009 he was arrested in Newport Beach after he failed to appear in court for a progress review on his rehabilitation related to his 2007 arrest.[15] He was ordered to be held in jail without bail until his May 4th hearing before the Orange County Superior Court.[16]


Marinovich is married to Alexandria, approximately fifteen years his junior, and they expect a son who they plan to name Baron Buzzy Marinovich.[1]

Marinovich has a younger half-brother named Mikhail Marinovich who plays college football as defensive end at Syracuse University. Mikhail enrolled in spring of 2008. He made news when he and a friend were arrested for breaking into a gym equipment room after drinking; Todd Marinovich warned him: "Don't be stupid. You're a Marinovich. You have a target on your back."[1]

External links


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Mike Sager, Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was, Esquire, April 14, 2009, Accessed April 15, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Douglas S. Looney, Bred To Be A Superstar, Sports Illustrated, February 22, 1988, Accessed September 10, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Douglas S. Looney, The Minefield, Sports Illustrated, September 3, 1990, Accessed September 10, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Shelley Smith, One Troubled Trojan, Sports Illustrated, November 5, 1990, Accessed September 10, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Richard Hoffer, Where Are The Good Old Days?, Sports Illustrated, August 31, 1992, Accessed September 10, 2008.
  6. ^
  7. ^ The 25 Biggest Sports Flops,, July 20, 2004
  8. ^ Gary Klein, USC's Mark Sanchez looks good in drills, Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2008, Accessed September 10, 2008.
  9. ^ Marinovich Back in Jail, April 4, 2009
  10. ^ Marinovich Released on Bond After Arrest Associated Press, April 26, 2000
  11. ^ Former NFL QB Todd Marinovich Arrested Associated Press, May 26, 2005
  12. ^ Marinovich ordered into drug rehabilitation program Associated Press, June 3, 2005
  13. ^ Ex-USC star Marinovich arrested in Newport Beach The Orange County Register, August 29, 2007
  14. ^ Marinovich begins work on his non-profit to help fight against drug and alcohol addiction among athletes National Treatment Centers, June 26, 2008
  15. ^ Todd Marinovich Sacked by the Law Again, April 3, 2009
  16. ^ Thing Go From Bad to Worse for Todd Marinovich, NBC Los Angeles, April 7, 2009, Accessed April 15, 2009.
Preceded by
Rodney Peete
USC Trojans Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Reggie Perry

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