That wasn't the only gem to roll off his irreverent tongue around the time of the draft. Here are some others:
•"Most of the offensive linemen in the NFL are fat-asses, 20 or 25 percent body fat. I'm 11.4 percent."
•"Green Bay should not be called a city. A village, maybe."
•"Sex is better for someone my size. I'm an athlete. I have good agility. I think I'm good." How much agility do you need? "How many positions do you want?"
In the wildest manifestation of all this hype, boxing promoters Shelly Finkel and Dan Duva tried to arrange a $10 million fight between Mandarich and Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion at the time. Mandarich used the prospect of a Tyson bout as a negotiating ploy with the Packers.
By the end of July 1989 Leidelmeyer was tired of Mandarich's shtick, and the two ended their friendship. "Tony was actually phoning Axl Rose in his limousine," says Leidelmeyer, "wondering if he could get to a big concert where he could walk on stage with Axl on his shoulders. I finally told him, 'You've got to get your act together. The money's fine, but if you can't perform, what does it all mean?' "
When Mandarich finally signed with Green Bay on Sept. 5, 1989, just five days before the start of the season, the Packers got the first indication that he was not the player they thought they had drafted: Mandarich showed up 15 to 20 pounds lighter than advertised. He explained away his weight loss by saying he needed to be lighter to make it as an NFL pass blocker and that he hadn't worked out much because he was frustrated by the contract negotiations.
"The media made me bigger than what I was," Mandarich says. "I created the image too, because nobody knows offensive linemen, and I thought I had to sell myself. But I didn't realize how powerful the image was, or that I could get lost in it. At the time I thought, I hope none of this comes back to haunt me. But it did. It still does. I have nobody to blame but myself."
When he finally got Mandarich in uniform, Lindy Infante, Green Bay's coach at the time, thought he could best use Mandarich's prowess as a run blocker by moving him from left tackle to right tackle. With Mandarich having missed the entire preseason, that move only made his transition to the pros more difficult, and he wound up playing primarily on special teams as a rookie.
Mandarich started all 16 games at right tackle for the Packers in 1990, but he displayed poor balance, lousy footwork and a lack of aggressiveness. When he was offered blocking tips, he shrugged them off. By the end of the '90 season Mandarich had become a laughingstock in the NFL. Philadelphia Eagle defensive end Reggie White thoroughly embarrassed Mandarich in one game. "I can't believe how Reggie was throwing Mandarich around," said Eagle nosetackle Mike Golic after the game. "They're basically the same size, and Reggie treated him like a toy. I'd start to rush, and I had to watch to keep from tripping over Mandarich."