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30 for 30: The Marinovich Project

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I've been getting back into the 30 for 30 series again.  This, along with Renee, has been my favorite of the series thusfar.  The story of Todd Marinovich in the public eye is pretty simple.  Kid quarterback has amazing talent but gets into trouble repeatedly, gets drafted by the Raiders anyway, doesn't focus on the game, and so is quickly out of football and is proclaimed as a giant draft bust.  Sounds like Jamarcus Russell, but 15 years earlier which says as much about the Raiders organization as it does about the players.

The film's emphasis is on Marinovich's upbringing.  This is a kid who had a father much like Earl Woods or Richard Williams, but he had the idea earlier.  His child was going to be a quarterback, and he was going to be raised to be one from a very early age.  Everything in Todd's childhood was geared toward becoming a quarterback.  He got professional position coaching, he practiced for hours every day, he minimized his other childhood activities.

As Marinovich grew older, he began to realize that being a quarterback was no longer his highest priority.  Now, suddenly, all these other things are as important, such as fitting in, getting to hang out with other kids, and having the typical high school and college experience.  However, he still feels compelled to be a quarterback, and the pressure starts getting to him.  He starts losing himself in drugs, and he flames out after a solid college career and a short NFL career.

His story is a fascinating one, because we spend so much time talking about Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters.  We wonder what kind of a toll it takes on a child, and Marinovich is a good example of what the other side can look like.  This is a compelling story about the intersection of sports and humanity, just what the 30 for 30 series is best at.

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