Netflix Instant Queue Diaries: ‘The Marinovich Project’: Gritty and Truthful
At birth, Todd Marinovich’s life had already been decided.
He was destined to be a one of kind athlete.
Through childhood, and even high school, destiny seemed to be running its course. He was the next legend. Nicknamed “Robo QB” by the awe-inspired media, Marinovich seemed to have the world on a string, with a rainbow on his lap.
Anyone who knows anything about the NFL knows Marinovich’s tale doesn’t end happily. It’s probably one of the saddest in the history of the sport.
John Dorsey and Andrew Stephan’s ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “The Marinovich Project” gives us an unfiltered view into the former Raiders’ life. The good, the bad and the ugly- the media cliché during his rise, their pressure on him during his fall. Through gritty and real interviews and a myriad of sources, such as former NFL standouts, Marinovich’s friends and family and the reborn star himself, this documentary ends up being one of the best in the 30 for 30 series.
Marinovich’s father, Marv, was a former professional football player and an instrumental force in modern strength and conditioning. A lot of that had to do with his son. Todd was Marv’s Frankenstein monster, an entity he created, in his own image, for the only reason to be an NFL superstar, something that eluded Dad Marinovich. Marv was tough on Todd during his childhood. If endless workouts weren’t tough enough, the media “reported” that Todd wasn’t allowed McDonalds as a kid. The amount of interviews with the Marinovich family and the footage of this “super” kid bring this part of the story to life.
If the interviews and footage set the scene in the beginning of the film, they run up and down the field completing passes at will the rest of the way. Every person interviewed doesn’t pull punches. There’s no hyperbole or cliché. It’s just the truth about this father and son.
After Todd’s acceptance into college, he naturally turned into a party animal. The myths surrounding his training and upbringing are put front and center, showing a child calling out for attention away from the football field- to just be a kid. Todd enjoyed the freedom from his family during college and although he stayed successful, his demons began to show. His perfect image? Tarnished. As the years pass by, Todd loses control of his vices. Marv loses touch. His NFL career, once bright, dies. Second chances? Blown. For years, Todd is a wandering soul, lost. It’s not until years later that the two finally become as close as they once were.
This relationship is the heart of the film and Dorsey and Stephan’s time with them shows. Although Todd isn’t exactly remorseful, you can tell he knows he’s made mistakes. He seems more focused on making the most of what’s left of his life. Marv, too, wants his golden years to be enjoyable and wants his son to be a part of it.
In the end, it’s interesting how the duo finds something else to share- just this time, doesn’t almost ruin their lives.
Todd’s revitalization and focus on his “art” and the relationship that redevelops with Marv closes the film almost perfectly. In a weird way, it makes this sad story feel like the end of a coming of age film and not one about addiction and loss.
The Marinovich’s lived their entire lives thriving on competition, to only end up valuing the things football seems to forget sometimes among the hard hits and touchdowns- creativity, imagination and passion.
Check out a trailer of the film below:
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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