Bring up the great home-run race of 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and the overwhelming reaction these days (other than anger) is “how did we fall for it?” and “why did we ignore the signs of steroid use?” But that was far from the first time that the media bought into the hype of an athlete who was too good to be true.
Nine years earlier, Tony Mandarich appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated (pictured above), billed as the best offensive line prospect in the history of the NFL. He was an unbelievable athletic specimen — but one that was completely fabricated as a result of a mind-boggling regimen of steroids. When he stopped the steroids, he fizzled as a player (the Packers chose him over Barry Sanders) and then turned to painkillers…and then to alcohol.
Mandarich claims that he “never had a sober day” during his four years in Green Bay. But, unlike fellow draft bust Todd Marinovich, Mandarich has turned his life around and wants to use his own experience to educate young players on the dangers of drugs.