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.