I was the biggest bust in NFL draft history, got addicted to drugs and alcohol, and now I’m a “child of God.”

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I was the biggest bust in NFL draft history, got addicted to drugs and alcohol, and now I’m a “child of God.”


He was an NFL Draft prospect “like we’ve never seen” before.

He was supposed to transform the offensive line position in professional football, introducing a Gladiator-style offense in the trenches and becoming arguably a Hall of Famer.

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Tony Mandarich was touted as the greatest offensive lineman of all time and had everything to prove itCredit: Getty

Tony Mandarich ended up playing in 86 NFL games.

But in the history of the draft, “The Incredible Bulk” became “The Incredible Bust”, bouncing between two teams, exiting the league in just six seasons and never making the Pro Bowl.

“I drank and numbed myself with prescription painkillers so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of fame’s fall,” Mandarich wrote for CBS.

“I had been… touted as probably the best offensive line prospect of all time. What I had become was an alcoholic and a drug addict, without the tools to handle the ups and downs of “real life.” life”.

Overrated in college, the 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive tackle became the poster boy for NFL Draft-mania, which now spans three days and is broadcast nationally on several television networks.

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place April 25-27 in Detroit.

Caleb Williams is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick, while as many as four quarterbacks could go in the top five selections.

In 1989, Mandarich was considered a generational talent at Michigan State.

Mandarich was supposed to be a perfect fit for the NFL with the iconic Green Bay Packers

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Mandarich was supposed to be a perfect fit for the NFL with the iconic Green Bay PackersCredit: Getty
But his football physique was too good to be true and he was overrated from the start.

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But his football physique was too good to be true and he was overrated from the start.Credit: Getty

He was drafted No. 2 overall by the legendary Green Bay Packers.

“This guy, once in a lifetime,” said an ESPN announcer.

Then everything started to go wrong.

Mandarich struggled to adjust to NFL life and fit in with the Pack.

He also couldn’t sustain the hype that preceded his lofty No. 2 selection in the draft.

After just three years in Green Bay, he was cut from the pros.

“I spent the next three years as an unemployable, miserable wreck, full of self-pity and unable to do anything to extricate myself from the quagmire I had created,” Mandarich wrote.

Football fanatics from that era still remember an iconic Sports Illustrated magazine cover that ultimately became laughable.

Mandarich was unstoppable on this famous 1989 Sports Illustrated cover.

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Mandarich was unstoppable on this famous 1989 Sports Illustrated cover.
There Was a Time When Tony “The Terrible” Mandarich Was Going to Change the NFL

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There Was a Time When Tony “The Terrible” Mandarich Was Going to Change the NFL

A shirtless Mandarich was declared as the “incredible mass”, while the accompanying story about Mandarich reads like something from a sports science fiction novel.

He lifted weights morning and night, ate seven meals totaling up to 15,000 calories a day and wanted to become Mr. Universe once his NFL career was over.

Add in his love of Guns n’ Roses from the “Appetite for Destruction” era when that rock band was at the top of the music world, and there hasn’t been a promoted offensive lineman like Mandarich Since.

“As a junior, he could have started on any of our Super Bowl teams,” Michigan State head coach George Perles, who previously coached the Pittsburgh Steelers, told SI. “He might be the best offensive tackle of all time.

“He’s faster than any offensive lineman in professional football. There’s probably no one in the world faster at his weight. He’s a different player. We’ll never have another .”

Even crazier was the top five in a historic 1989 draft, which helped propel the NFL – then considered on equal footing with MLB and the NBA – to the top of the American sports landscape.

Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman went No. 1 for the Dallas Cowboys and became part of a dynasty.

Barry Sanders, considered by many to be the greatest running back of all time, was the third overall pick by the Detroit Lions.

Mandarich dominated his competition in college and was a bulldozer on the field

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Mandarich dominated his competition in college and was a bulldozer on the field

Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas was selected 4th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.

And Deion ‘Prime Time’ Sanders joined the Atlanta Falcons at No. 5, while preparing for his baseball career with the New York Yankees.

Mandarich was so talented, powerful and generational that he was sandwiched between four future Pro Football Hall of Famers.

He also faced serious accusations of steroid use before his name was called by the NFL on April 23, 1989.

“No one has ever seen a guy 6-6 years old, 320 years old, who can move, who can abuse people,” Mandarich said. “People everywhere would love for me to take steroids. They would love for me to get pulled over at 120 miles an hour, drunk, with steroids in my glove compartment.”

Mandarich spent four seasons out of the NFL after being cut by the Packers and became sober.

He returned to spend the 1996-98 period with the Indianapolis Colts and started ten games during Peyton Manning’s rookie year.

But a decade later, Mandarich revealed that he had used steroids in college and had faked a drug test before the 1988 Rose Bowl game.

Mandarich has turned his life around and is seen smiling with Chiefs coach Andy Reid

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Mandarich has turned his life around and is seen smiling with Chiefs coach Andy ReidCredit: Instagram/Tony Mandarich

“I got to the point where it was hard to work out three or four times a week because the priority of getting high was higher than the priority of working out,” Mandarich said.

Eventually finished with the NFL, “The Incredible Bust” changed his life.

Mandarich’s Instagram bio describes him as a “child of God” and a “speaker,” while he recently posted a photo of himself smiling with Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

When NFL great Steve McNair tragically passed away in 2009, Mandarich tried to put everything into perspective.

“Many professional athletes have difficulty adjusting after retirement,” he writes. “We are spoiled by the attention and adoration of fans, and we don’t know where to find our value when we are no longer in the spotlight.

“After being considered such a ‘superior’ specimen, it is almost impossible for a former professional athlete to ask anyone for help. We cannot bring ourselves to admit that we are not strong enough to be able to handle extreme changes without help.

“It’s rewarding to be recognized for our athletic achievements, but it’s the adversities we face – and overcome – that define us as human beings.”

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