Badger Blog Alliance

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A past draft blast

I'm a little bit anxious for football to get started. So. Apropos of nothing (except a Sports Illustrated article that appeared last week), let's talk about Tony Mandarich.

You remember him. The guy the Packers took in the NFL draft - right before the Lions took Barry Sanders?

That's him.

He's seen the error of his ways now and is talking about his steroid use, his drug use, and his generally rotten attitude.

ESPN has a good video on his story here. I highly recommend it, if only for the really awesome clips of him when he was THE dominant offensive lineman in history.

And here's the Sports Illustrated article. An excerpt:

His lowest point may have come when his brother was near death from cancer in the winter of 1993. Tony drove off on a 16-hour round-trip to pick up pills for himself that he'd persuaded a doctor to prescribe. When he got back, John was dead. "Painkillers were more important to me than holding my brother's hand as he died," Tony says.

The addictions ruined his first marriage and left him depressed. He was emotionally arrested, he tries to explain, and needed to grow up. Rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous finally got him straight. Fourteen years later he hopes his book will help others, even as it helps him wipe his own slate clean and show that there is hope even for "a bust, a loudmouth, a no-good liar at the very bottom, like me."

Mandarich's second wife, Charlavan, who dated him for two years at Michigan State, and with whom he shares four children (two from his first marriage, two from hers), says she has seen great change in Mandarich during their five-year marriage; he has become humble and calm and spiritual. They work extremely hard and close together at their web-design and Internet marketing business. Char almost mists up describing her husband—"a brilliant, gentle, white light, a beautiful light," she says.
I’m tempted to say: wonderful. Glad everything worked out, that he got over all that crap, that he’s become a good husband and father and is making something good come of his failures. A failure that big – seems like that could really eat a guy up, when he was as proud and successful as Mandarich was.

I’m also tempted to wonder whether he’d be so humble and sorry if he still had a multi-million dollar football career to shoot for. Now that that’s all over, now he’s sorry. That’s awfully easy.

I’ll go with the first one, of course, because I try to think the best of people, and because there's no going back to change what happened: he can only go forward from here.

Still. Imagine if we'd taken Barry Sanders. In 1989.