Ryan Leaf is at the Combine, and Tony Mandarich would like to be

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Ryan Leaf and Tony Mandarich are generally recognized as the two biggest busts in the history of the NFL draft. That might also make them the two best cautionary tales for the players at this year’s Scouting Combine.

Leaf is at this year’s Combine, and he told Adam Schefter of ESPN that he had a “rewarding” experience talking to young quarterbacks.

Mandarich, meanwhile, says he doesn’t understand why he’s never been invited to talk to NFL teams. As an offensive tackle at Michigan State, Mandarich was viewed as the best offensive line prospect ever heading into the 1989 draft. Instead he was a major disappointment as the second overall pick.

I’m blown away they don’t bring me in to [say], ‘Hey look, here’s from the horse’s mouth on how not to do it,'” Mandarich told ESPN.com. “Who else do you know was a train wreck that could give the rookies a cautionary tale and say, ‘Hey look, you’re not invincible.'”

Mandarich said he blames his own “immaturity” and “stupidity” for washing out in the NFL, and he believes he can talk to young players and give them a wake-up call about avoiding the mistakes he made.

There will surely be some players in this year’s draft whose careers are cut short by immaturity and stupidity. But maybe hearing from busts like Leaf and Mandarich would lead to some players getting scared straight.

42 responses to “Ryan Leaf is at the Combine, and Tony Mandarich would like to be

  1. I’d probably put JaMarcus at #1, but these two are contenders for sure.

    And I’ll admit, since I’m here, that I thought Leaf was going to be great coming out of Washington State.

  2. Mandarich was on the path to all time bust but he actually had a respectable end of career. Still a first round bust, but I think that should take him out of running with Leaf, JaMarcus, Artie Schlicter…

  3. Ideally, rookies could really benefit from listening to Leaf and Mandarich but they have to be willing to listen. When you have players like Manziel and Vince Young defiantly proclaiming that nobody can change them, there isn’t much you can do except avoid them.

  4. Very decent of both of these guys to offer advice. Must be extraordinarily humbling and quite embarrassing to do so. I hope they’re both are happy and live good lives.

  5. touchdownelvis – How can you put JaMarcus at #1 ?

    The frustrating thing is Russell showed some promise, nice final game of his rookie season against Tampa. A good solid second season:13 td’s and 8 ints, had some nice games (a great game against Miami) as a 23 year old QB without any weapons on offense.

    Then that offseason it all went downhill. His mentor died and he went off the rails and turned up overweight, had the ‘syrup’ issues etc. Had a dire third season.

    I wouldnt mind if he had a career like Ryan Leaf and was a bust from day 1. But Russell showed some talent which is the frustrating thing.

  6. Most of the kids in the draft are 20 to 22 years old. They don’t remember Leaf or Mandarich. As above, JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, Aaron Curry, Mike Williams, Charles Rogers, would all be more relevant and could make an impact.

    Or, to make it easier, just invite a list of Lions 2nd Round draft picks during the Millen era. That should make the point crystal clear.

  7. I think there are enough contemporary examples of what not to do. Don’t need these retreads hanging around. Just look at Manziel and Gordon for example, ironically both tied to the Browns who will pick first.

  8. I thought Mandarich ended his career fairly well at Indy? At least he was somewhat productive compared to Leaf. I was in SD during that show, and what a show it was.

  9. I’d prefer to have Tom Brady go give all the coaches a speech about not overlooking the kid in the back whose eyes burn with competitive fire just because he may not be the guy you need if a bunch of orange cones suddenly appear on the field in the middle of a football game.

  10. Cam Wake would be a great example of how to never give up the dream if you don’t get drafted.

  11. Mandarich can blame his immaturity if he wants, Roids were his downfall. He looked great on the cover of Sports Illustrated but six months later and off the juice, he was a below average lineman.

  12. diehardfootballfan says:
    Mar 3, 2017 5:44 AM
    And the NFL actually thinks these 19-21 year olds listen? LOL
    _________________________________________
    there’s isn’t going to be to many 19 year olds if any. you have to be 3 years out of HS to enter the draft. But I do get you your point.

  13. I was a poor 21-22 year old, and I wouldn’t have listened to anybody. But you expect these kids, who have been pampered their entire lives and had riches and freebies thrown at them to listen? Not a chance for most. If their parents haven’t instilled at least a little bit of humility into them, a 30 minute talk from Mandarich isn’t going to work.

  14. swineherd says:
    Mar 3, 2017 6:13 AM
    Mandarich was on the path to all time bust but he actually had a respectable end of career. Still a first round bust, but I think that should take him out of running with Leaf, JaMarcus, Artie Schlicter…

    —————-

    Where is Bosworth these says?

    And I agree that deep draft or undrafted guys that made thenselves something vua sheer hard witk and competativeness would be better for speaking to those kids.

    Leaf and Mandarich would be better talking to coaches that want to trade away a teams future to move up to a top pick of a single player.

  15. If the NFL and NFLPA truly cared, which is debatable, they would see how many players wash out and/or go broke. While it wouldn’t make most players happy, I think they should mandate all contracts pull out 5 or 10 percent of the money, put it into a secure fund, and the players get access to it five years after they retire. Regardless of whether a player’s career is long or short, and how much they earned, we have seen them go broke at far too high of a rate for the amount of money they earn while playing.

  16. davekva72 says:
    Mar 3, 2017 10:06 AM

    I thought Leaf was in prison? Work release program?

    —————————————————–

    You’re thinking of Art Schlichter, the notorious gambling Colts QB. He also had a coke issue, which didn’t go over well with the parole board.

  17. hutson14 says:
    Mar 3, 2017 10:26 AM
    davekva72 says:
    Mar 3, 2017 10:06 AM

    I thought Leaf was in prison? Work release program?

    —————————————————–

    You’re thinking of Art Schlichter, the notorious gambling Colts QB. He also had a coke issue, which didn’t go over well with the parole board.
    ====

    Leaf spent two years in prison for stealing prescription pain killers in Montana.

  18. Mandarich still played like 9 seasons and actually got better towards the end of his career. He didn’t really “wash out.”

    And everybody in the NFL should have known with reasonable certainty he was juicing back when he was a can’t miss prospect. Teams were just hoping he could beat the tests and then acted shocked when he didn’t.

  19. What a coincidence. Last week, I was cleaning out my parent’s garage and found my old Sports Illustrated magazines. I re-read the issue with Tony Mandarich on the cover and thinking what a colossal bust he was due to roids. He looked like a body builder in that photo.

  20. I would argue that Jamarcus Russell was a bigger bust than Leaf. That’s just my opinion. At least Leaf flashed enough talent to get a second and third chance. Russell just got a bunch of coaches fired.

    Good for Leaf and Mandarich for trying to give back.

  21. mogogo1 says:
    Mar 3, 2017 11:04 AM

    Mandarich still played like 9 seasons and actually got better towards the end of his career. He didn’t really “wash out.”

    And everybody in the NFL should have known with reasonable certainty he was juicing back when he was a can’t miss prospect. Teams were just hoping he could beat the tests and then acted shocked when he didn’t.
    ———————————
    It was actually six seasons and only 10 games the last season.

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