Former offensive tackle admits steroid use at MSU in late 1980s
EAST LANSING — Tony Mandarich, nearly 20 years after the fact, has admitted he used steroids while playing football at Michigan State in the late 1980s.
Mandarich, the former MSU offensive tacklewhowas selectedNo. 2 overall in the 1989 NFL draft and derided as one of the biggest draft busts of all time, made the revelation in a television interview to be broadcast on Showtime tonight.
Mandarich’s steroid use at MSU was reported by The Detroit News following an investigation in 1989 and 1990.
The report, published in March 1990, quoted former players saying Mandarich used steroids, supplied other players with them and even gave teammates steroid injections.
Mandarich, whose NFL career foundered, had always denied steroid use.
Messages left Tuesday for Mandarich at his home and business in Scottsdale, Ariz., weren’t returned. A woman who answered the phone at Mandarich’s business said he was “in meetings all day.”
Mandarich admitted his steroid use in a twopart interview with Armen Keteyian for “Inside
the NFL” on Showtime.
The first segment will be broadcast at 9 tonight and focus on his time at Michigan State and his early seasons in theNFL, Keteyian said.
“It was one of the most compelling, dramatic interviews I’ve ever done,” Keteyian, who grew up in Bloomfield Hills, told The News. “It covers a lot of territory.”
Mandarich told Keteyian he was addicted to pain killers and alcohol by the time he entered the NFL, and that his addictions continued during his four years with the Packers.
Mandarich said he cheated on his drug test prior to the 1988 Rose Bowl, at which MSU beat Southern California, 20-17. George Perles was MSU’s coach at the time.
Mandarich’s wife, Char Mandarich told The News he still thinks fondly ofMSU, Perles and the football program.
Reached Tuesday by The News, Perles maintained no illegal activity happened during his tenure.
“I would never say anything negative about one of our players or ex-players, so there’s nothing there,” said Perles, now a school trustee. “My only question: What’s the motive?”
A book, “My Dirty Little Secrets — Steroids, Alcohol & God — The TonyMandarich Story,” is scheduled to be released in March.
Perles said an internal investigation conducted by university officials more than 20 years ago found no wrongdoing. Michigan State has no plans to further investigate the issue based on Mandarich’s interview.
“It would be reckless and irresponsible for me or anyone here to comment on an unseen interview promoting an unpublished book about something that allegedly happened long ago that allegedly he and only he knewabout,” saidTerryDenbow, a school spokesman.
Denbow said he recalled two NCAA-supervised drug tests before the 1988 Rose Bowl that didn’t detect steroid use among MSU’s players.
Keteyian said Mandarich declined to say if any of his teammates took steroids.
“I certainly asked him about coach Perles saying, ‘ No, no, no, no’ that he never knew of or was aware of any steroid use,” Keteyian said. “Tony did not dispute that. This is a guy that’s been sober now since 1995, he’s a very different person now than the people at Michigan State would remember him.
“To use Tony’s words, he’s not out to roll over on anybody,” Keteyian said. “He makes it clear this is not a Jose Canseco naming names book. He’s taking responsibility for his actions and he’s not, as best as I understood it in this interview, not outing anybody else.
“The story about his addiction to painkillers, which began shortly after he left Michigan State and went to California, dwarfs in my mind, the steroid admission. It’s off the charts, as far as the depths of his misery and his drug addiction. It was a full blown addiction to farmgrade narcotic pain-killers for six years. It answers a lot of questions about what happened in Green Bay.”
At a chiseled 6-foot-6, 315 pounds coming out of MSU, Mandarich was hailed as the offensive lineman of the future. He got off on the wrong foot with Packers fans, disparaging Green Bay as a “village.”
And he was more awkward as a player. He didn’t make a start until his third season and missed the 1992 season— his last in Green Bay— due to injury. Mandarich was out of the NFL until making a comeback with the Colts in 1996. He was a starting tackle for most of his three seasons and retired in 1998. You can reach Eric Lacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SI Cover/Sports Illustrated Man of the moment: Tony Mandarichwas on the cover of Sports Illustrated in April 1989, left, in an NFL draft preview, and in September 1992, as a Packer.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images Lineman Tony Mandarich of the Packers works out in late April of 1989. He came out of Michigan State as a 6-foot-6, 315-pounder.