Twenty-six years after the Raiders made him a first-round pick, 25 years after he last played in an NFL game, and four months after he pleaded guilty to multiple charges that included unlawful public nudity, drug possession and trespassing, Todd Marinovich revealed to the world that he’s ready to play football again.
Marinovich, now 48 years old and sober, is attempting a football comeback.
That comeback won’t take place in the NFL, of course. Instead, Marinovich will try to become the starting quarterback of the SoCal Coyotes, a team that resides in the World Development Football League. Marinovich was an assistant coach with the Coyotes last year. This year, he’ll be trying to beat out a 25-year-old quarterback named Jacob Russell.
“It’s the greatest game on the planet and I’ve been away from it for so long, and I can’t think of anything more fun,” he said, according to The Desert Sun. “Recovery has changed every aspect of my life and made it better so why wouldn’t that carry over to the football field?”
The Raiders selected Marinovich out of USC with the 24th pick in the 1991 NFL Draft. He wound up playing in eight games over the course of two seasons, completing just over 50 percent of his passes for 1,345 yards, eight touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a 66.4 passer rating. So no, he didn’t live up to the hype on the field.
He faced even more troubles off the field. Our John Breech explains:
The former first-round pick was arrested for cocaine possession shortly after USC played in the 1990 Sun Bowl, and in 1997 he pleaded guilty to cultivating marijuana in his home. In 2005, he was arrested in Newport Beach, California, for drug possession, and in 2007 he was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle and resisting arrest.
According to The Sun, Marinovich has been sober since he was found naked in someone’s backyard with marijuana and meth last August. He was arrested, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but can avoid any jail time if he completes rehab and stays out of legal trouble for three years.
Marinovich won’t have any easy time unseating the incumbent. Last year, Russell threw 35 touchdowns and didn’t lose a single game, according to The Sun. The competition begins on Aug. 10 when the team starts practicing.
Regardless of what happens on the field, Marinovich maintained that he’s already won.
“Talk about comebacks. We’re not talking about football really,” he said. “My best friends weren’t betting on me, and that’s not betting on me to come back to play football, that’s on me coming back to be on the planet. So just being right here, right now is a win. I’m comfortable for the very first time in my own skin and man, what a gift.”