The tattoos arc still there, outdated though they are with '80s slogans like APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION. He Still enjoys riding Harleys, hunting big game and spending half the day in the weight room. But it was a different Tony Mandarich who took the field for the Colts on Sunday, done is the larger-than-life Mandarich who was supposedly the baddest blocker in the land when the Packers made him the second pick in the 1989 draft. In his place is a more mellow Mandarich who this winter, after three years out of the game, rang up the Colts' Lindy Infante, his coach in Green Bay, and asked for another shot. "The game has humbled me." says Mandarich, who is making a league-minimum $196,000 to back up right tackle Jason Mathews. Tin not taking it, or myself, so seriously now."
No one, actually, took the brash, mouthy Mandarich seriously during his first go-round. Yes, the Packers gave him a four-year, $4.4 million contract, but he quickly became a punching bag for defensive linemen, lie started 31 games in 1990 and '91 but missed all of '92 with a thyroid problem and post-concussion syndrome, and was released in March '93.
He returned to his home in Traverse City, Mich., and, after a year off to heal, began working out again—regaining the 60 pounds he had dropped from his 6'5", 325-pound frame—while studying for a degree in law enforcement at Northwestern Michigan College. Mandarich seldom watched football in his time away from the game but tuned in last fall as his alma mater. Michigan State, defeated Michigan. That inspired his comeback. "I'm having a blast with football again." he says. "I'm a lot more mature now."