Coming out of Michigan State, Tony Mandarich was a big deal. Packerville, USA documents this well. Mandarich was 6-5/6-6, 305-310, and lighting quick. Now, the big ex-lineman takes his shots of models, and not of 'roids or at D-linemen. New book out soon, too ("launching a tell-all memoir about his NFL career, rumored steroid use, and more in early 2008"). (Updated data here: Mandarich reveals steroid and narcotics use)
“He’s the best college football player I’ve ever seen... this kid is better than Anthony Munoz.”
— Tom Boisture, N.Y. Giants
“Maybe the fastest offensive tackle in history... and just maybe the best.”
— San Diego GM Steve Ortmayer
The Toronto Sun also carried a story on Mandarich when he retired.
On the wall there is a framed No. 79 Michigan State Spartans jersey from the 1988 Rose Bowl, a framed Indianapolis Colts jersey he wore from 1996-98 and a blowup photo of the 1989 Sports Illustrated cover that hailed him as "The Incredible Bulk."
Noteworthy by their absence, however, is the Green Bay Packers uniform he wore mostly in shame for parts of three seasons and the other SI cover, the one that in 1992 derided him as "The Incredible Bust."
Mandarich signed for 4.4 million a year, huge money then for a rookie NFL lineman. He struggled with strength and power, which started rumors that he quit steroids, resulting in a drastic drop off in performance.
The Packers, who had paid him $4.4 million US for four years, had seen enough. After his final season -- in which he didn't even play because of a parasitic infection that sapped his strength -- Green Bay decided to cut its losses.
He was traded to the Colts...
"I didn't put much stock in what I heard and read until I met the guy," Zupancic said in a phone interview. "What struck me was how calm and committed he was. He never took a step backward."
Mandarich's three years in Indy, mostly as a starter, were quiet. There were no Pro Bowls, no dominating performances.
But there was a steady starting job and few critics. When Peyton Manning came into the league in 1998, it was Mandarich's role to protect him. Tony the Terrible was now a calming influence.
Was Mandarich a steroid user?
Virtually every interview he has done, Mandarich has been asked if he was a user. Every time he has denied it.
"It bothered me, but I wasn't the first player they said that about and I wasn't the last," said Mandarich, who had to pass a drug test before the Colts would sign him. "But you know what, that was magnified by me and my big mouth. It made the snowball get bigger.
"I can't tell you how many drug tests I have taken in the NCAA, in (scouting combines) in Bowl games, in the NFL and I've never tested positive for anything."
He doesn't deny using supplements. And he doesn't deny being a workout freak. But steroids? No.
the Edgy, Dynamic, Glamor Division of Mandarich Photography
That portfolio is strong work!