Documentary Examines the Rise and Fall of the Player Known as “Robo QB”
A common phrase used when talking about gifted athletes is to say that they were “born talented.” But what if a person, from the minute they were born, was “bred” to be the ultimate athlete? Todd Marinovich knows that feeling all too well, and his story is the subject of ESPN Films’ new documentary, The Marinovich Project Presented by Dove Men+Care. As the last installment of the Year of the Quarterback initiative, ESPN Films will air the new documentary, directed by John Dorsey and Andrew Stephan, on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 9 p.m. ET, following the Heisman Trophy presentation.
Todd’s father, Marv Marinovich, was a USC and pro football player who developed ground-breaking strength and conditioning techniques, much of which is still the basis for the NFL combine today. He began molding his son since birth, including stretching exercises for Todd in his crib as well as a strict diet, which then progressed to many childhood hours spent running and working out. Eventually becoming nearly perfect on the field, Todd was nicknamed “Robo QB” by the press and was among the most sought-after and talked-about high school athletes in the late 1980s. But along with the pursuit of perfection came increasingly intense pressure, testing a relationship with his dad that leaned more toward coach-player than father-son.
Resorting to drugs as a form of escape, Todd struggled at USC and then as a first-round pick of the Raiders before he found himself out of the NFL at the age of 23. Through personal interviews with Todd and Marv along with other family members, teammates and close friends, The Marinovich Project tells the unvarnished story of Todd’s unique ascent to stardom, the dark descent that followed and the complicated father-son bond throughout, ultimately answering the question: “What went wrong with Todd Marinovich?”
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing compelling sports stories. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated 30 for 30 film series. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. Additional projects from ESPN Films include, among others, the critically acclaimed and Television Academy Honor-winning 16th Man, Cannes Film Festival official selection The Two Escobars, and the Peabody Award-winning Black Magic. Catching Hell, from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, and Renée, from filmmaker Eric Drath, were featured in the latest ESPN Films series this fall.