Dr. Aaron's Blog

A football Star – turned addict. Todd Marinovich.

December 1, 2015 Addiction, Naturopathic Medicine, Recovery coaching by Aaron Van Gaver

Todd Marinovich is a cautionary tale, an example of what can happen when an overbearing father pushes their child too hard, too fast. Marinovich was engineered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived by his father, NFL legend Marv Marinovich. He was even drafted ahead of the legendary Brett Favre, who is considered by many as the greatest quarterback in the history of the league.

Todd was the 1987 high school football player of the year, received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California and for all intents and purposes, he had made it in the shade. But what friends and coaches did not realize is that Todd was in the throes of a massive struggle with addiction, one that would take him years to recover from.

He would rack up arrests and felonies at an astonishing rate and spend a year in jail. Marinovich is perhaps best known to this generation as the washed up NFL QB who elected to go surfing naked. But his struggles with drugs and alcohol can be attributed to the parenting techniques that Marv relied upon, which included placing little Todd on a balance beam before he had the ability to walk and attempting to stretch his hamstrings while he was still crib bound.

Thanks to his father’s efforts, Todd was able to run an eight minute mile by his fourth birthday. But these athletic achievements came at quite a cost. In high school, he began to attend keg parties and use alcohol as a means of coping with Marv’s techniques. Soon, regular marijuana usage was added to the equation.

Todd’s problems did not start to become public until his USC stint. In 1991, he was arrested with marijuana and cocaine. His career at USC finished, he attempted to make the jump to the NFL. Drafted by the Raiders as a third string quarterback, Todd made up for his lack of playing time with cocaine and Ecstasy fuelled parties that never seemed to stop.

He began to use speed before games. When Todd’s supply of clean urine finally ran out, he failed an NFL drug test. Switching to LSD after (it didn’t typically show up on screens), he would soon fail another. A third failed drug test and Todd was out of the league. He then developed a crippling dependency on heroin and was arrested for marijuana cultivation.

After cycling through the Canadian Football League and Arena Football, Todd allowed his heroin addiction to completely take over his life, leaving him homeless. Nine arrests and a combined year in jail later, Todd is finally clean and sharing his story with children everywhere and now helps his father as much as he can.

Todd has overcome his addictions and believes that his genetics are the root cause. With a young son of his own to look after, he is determined to be the best father that he can be.