Tony Mandarich Had So Many Red Flags

The Sports Illustrated NFL Twitter account recently tweeted out its now-infamous cover article of all-time draft bust Tony Mandarich. His failings in Green Bay don’t need to be re-stated, but in hindsight, the red flags should have been flying like flakes in a Wisconsin snowstorm.

Here are some of the highlights:

The man from tomorrow is taking his drugs.

Off to a great start!

With his size, speed and attack-and-obliterate style of play, Mandarich has broken new ground for offensive linemen, as well as for the game of football as we know it. Either that or he has set civilization back a thousand years.

I don’t want my football players to set civilization back any amount of time, please.

Mandarich has been through two dozen lifting partners in college, none of whom could keep up with him, and he says of [Rob] Smith, who has been training with him since last November, "I'd rather lift with a little guy who's intense and crazy than with a dork who's my size and a puss."

A what, exactly? The author goes through some pains in this article to try to paint Mandarich as anything but a meathead, which is hard given quotes like that.

It is spring break at MSU and the gym is uncrowded. "All the fat——ers are in Florida now," snarls Mandarich during leg curls.

Case in point.

He left school after 4½ years, still 17 credits shy of earning his degree in communications. "I never signed a contract saying I'd graduate," he says. "But I'll get my degree. People forget there are colleges in California."

Who manages to go to classes for four and a half years and somehow not get a communications degree? I ask as a guy who got a communications degree. I was in the classes. They are not that hard.

He says he'll play even in rustic Green Bay "if the price is right." And what's right? Bet on about $8 million for five years. Would he live year-round in Green Bay? "Hah! I'm back here the day the season's over."

GENUINE RED FLAG. You can get over a guy being a jerk. You might want to avoid the guy who says he’s not really sure he wants to play in Green Bay.

In the Gator Bowl he beat up on Georgia defensive end Wycliffe Lovelace because Lovelace had been quoted in the papers as saying Mandarich was overrated. "I called him 'Linda,' " says Mandarich. "I ripped his helmet off twice in the game. I abused him. I punished him."

If that quote was on the record in today’s NFL, it might be shocking if Mandarich was drafted at all.

That afternoon as Mandarich relaxes with Amber at the condominium, a telegram arrives from the Green Bay Packers. It reads: "Tony, please call Charlie Davis or Tom Braatz concerning travel to Green Bay for predraft physical before end of week."
"Yeah, right!" hoots Mandarich.

Presented without comment.

Later, [Mandarich’s girlfriend, Amber] Leidelmeyer drops by. The subject of steroids comes up. If Mandarich hasn't used steroids yet, well, why hasn't he?
The big man is silent for a time. "I might," he says finally.

"If he feels limited, he'll have to open that next door," says Leidelmeyer.

He sure will.