Before he was old enough to go to school, Todd Marinovich was being groomed to be an athlete. His father Marv, a former USC football standout, made it his mission to turn his son into a football player through a unique training regimen, unyielding nutrition demands… and a heavy hand.
Selfie with pen on paper (lyric journals) pic.twitter.com/gLH4P0eWtG— Todd Marinovich (@ToddMarinovich) January 18, 2021
Tony Reid-Being a prodigy and household name as a young kid, you had a spotlight on you and admirers at a young age. Do you remember the first time you were approached by a fan?
Todd Marinovich-I was a freshman at Mater Dei and we played a home game. It’s a really cool stadium in Santa Ana called the Santa Ana Bowl. I don’t know how many it holds but for high school football it was packed house. A little kid got down on the field. He had a notepad and asked me to sign it. I was surprised, obviously, I was 15 years old. I knew then my last name was quite long and I needed to shorten it somehow. When I sign today my last name is an ‘M’ and an “H’ and that’s about it.
TR–You weren’t only a football star as a young player, you were a rock star. What is the most memorable fan interaction you’ve had?
TM– I’m brutally honest so you are going to get the truth from me today. I was leaving the Coliseum. I was playing with the Raiders but I wasn’t starting at the time. It was my first year. It was a cool experience because I played at USC and playing with the Raiders, I didn’t have to leave the stadium. The parking lot of the Coliseum changed drastically from Saturday to Sunday. I was making my way to my vehicle after a Raiders game. I had some gentlemen surround me and I was worried about my safety a bit. They said ‘Todd, just say the word and we will take care of Jay Schroeder for you.’ He was the starting quarterback at the time. I think I stuttered and spattered and said ‘I appreciate that but I have to go.’
TR-Your rookie cards appeared in nearly every product in 1991. You were in Topps and Score and Upper Deck and everything else under the sun. What did you think when you saw yourself on a trading card for the first time?
TM-It was a cool experience. As a kid, it was more baseball than football for me growing up in the seventies as far as the cards I saw. To see an action shot of yourself on a card coming out of a pack with some gum in it was just surreal. It was cool.
TR–Many of your rookie cards you are pictured in your USC uniform. There were some really cool in action, unique shots on those cards. Your Score card show you celebrating in the end zone. Your Stadium Club card has you firing one down field.
TM– It brought back really good memories. With every still shot that was placed on the card I knew the exact play that occurred. The one you spoke of with me celebrating, was a cool play up in Stanford. It was the school that if I would have gone anywhere other than SC it would have been Stanford.
We were playing there. I was in shotgun. We were going in at about the twenty. We called a double pass and we had a receiver named Curtis Conway. He played for the Bears. He was a burner, a great, great athlete. He was a quarterback in high school. I tossed him the ball and snuck out of the backfield. He lofted one up that seemed like it had helium in it. It felt like it was never going to come down. I had time to look at the defense coming and then look at the ball and fortunately I did catch it. It was the only touchdown I ever caught.
TR-Did you manage to hold on to any of your own cards over the years?
TM– I did. Fans have been really generous over the years. I have always signed them and sent them back but they always tuck a few in for my personal keepsake. I have a book that I am passing on to my son Baron, I don’t know if it’s a surprise, but he is playing quarterback himself.
TR-If you could go back to your playing days, who would you want to swap jerseys with?
TM-That is a cool idea that is going on today. I wish somebody would have thought of it then. There were so many restrictions. I swear to God, at the time, I was getting fined weekly by the NFL for uniform infractions. I was getting fined for not pulling my socks all the way up to my knees. I cut my jersey just so I had a little more arm movement on my throwing arm and because I saw The Snake (Ken Stabler) do it, I got fined for that.
They are definitely more liberal with their rules now which is great. But it would undoubtedly be Joe Montana. I got to meet him in the tunnel at Candlestick Park. He was out with a back injury and I got the chance to chat with him for a few minutes before the game. What a legend.