Marv Marinovich, Raiders lineman and icon of obsessive sports parents, dies at 81

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Marv Marinovich, who had a brief pro football career but is best remembered for the way he attempted to construct his son Todd Marinovich into the perfect NFL quarterback, has died at the age of 81.

Marinovich played on both the offensive and defensive lines at USC and was captain of the 1962 team that won the national championship, but his intensity and volatility was on display even then, as he was ejected from that year’s Rose Bowl game against No. 2 Wisconsin for fighting.

The Raiders drafted Marinovich and he spent three years with the organization, but he only got on the field for one regular season game. Still, he impressed Raiders owner Al Davis enough that Davis hired Marinovich to be a strength and conditioning coach with the Raiders.

It was as a strength and conditioning coach that Marinovich made his greatest impact, but the obsessive way he coached his son became the subject of much controversy. Marv Marinovich began trying to turn Todd Marinovich into an NFL star in infancy, and dictated his exercise and nutrition routine every day of his childhood. Todd Marinovich famously grew up never visiting McDonald’s or getting a piece of the cake at friends’ birthday parties because that didn’t fit Marv Marinovich’s plan for his son to become a superstar.

When Todd Marinovich became the starting quarterback at USC and then a first-round draft pick of the Raiders, some thought Marv’s tactics had been vindicated. But Todd Marinovich flamed out in the NFL and has struggled with drug addiction, and Marv Marinovich was widely scorned as the worst example of a sports parent who put undue pressure on his son in an attempt to live out his own dreams.

Marv Marinovich did, however, become a successful trainer for several NFL players and other professional athletes, and he was respected in the field of strength and conditioning. He’ll be remembered for training many NFL players, and for taking the training of his son too far.

14 responses to “Marv Marinovich, Raiders lineman and icon of obsessive sports parents, dies at 81

  1. The man gave his son every advantage what father doesn’t aspire to do just that ? His son was a hell of qb who flamed out due to bad choices, pressure drugs very common among athletes. RIP to mr marinovich.

  2. RIP. I know situations are different between families and upbringing, but I know in my situation, I wish I could have taken advantage of the lessons and teachings my parents gave me way back when…

  3. Also, Marv was ahead of his time. Look at how his beliefs and training have became a full-blown industry, where Professional Athletes now have full-time chefs.

    With the pandemic, I feel like we are going to start seeing some ridiculous athletes in the future….

  4. He prepared his son for football, but not for life. His priorities were wrong and the son paid a price. It’s a shame.

  5. He pushed his son too hard but Todd had every opportunity to be a great player and just couldnt maintain the desire.

  6. These comments that Todd flamed out, didn’t take advantage great opportunities, he chose drugs, etc are missing the point that he had no choice in playing football.
    It’s been well established that Marv forced him to play football.

    Can’t have desire for something you don’t want.

  7. TRUTH and well-stated:

    billzbubb says:
    December 5, 2020 at 9:42 am
    He prepared his son for football, but not for life. His priorities were wrong and the son paid a price. It’s a shame.

  8. Though I may not agree with the way he raised his son and the tactics he used, I admire a man who is clear in his believes and operates in alignment with them. He was a bold man, I think that boldness and straightforwardness is an inspiring way to be.

  9. It’s very difficult to be a good parent. Some push their children too hard and some don’t push enough. I think it is worth noting that Marv had a second son who, by all accounts, is a fine, successful human being.

  10. tired – just because Todd didn’t become a football star in the NFL, and has had drug issues, does not mean he is not a successful human being.

    I read some things about Mikhail – sounds like Marv had mellowed some, Mikhail is much younger than Todd (half bros). Even so, Mikhail went to live with another family during his teen years, fought a lot with both parents.

    I don’t think we get to judge who is successful or not as humans..

  11. RIP Marv. He succeeded in raising Todd to be a perfect QB. Todd was a first round draft pick. He had everything going for him on the field. As a parent, it’s hard to sit here and criticize another parent because his kid ended up with psychological issues that may have led to drug problems. I’m sure it bothered Marv more than anyone. I can’t hold anything against the man for trying and caring. You do the best you can do with the skills you have. Every parent wants to be a perfect parent, but I can’t think of one who has actually succeeded. Marv was under a microscope because his kid became famous. There was a lot more success in this story, than failure.

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