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End of the defense When John Matuszak mixed Valium, he almost died
For some athletes, breaking into the NFL may be a life-changing experience. It has the power to break a guy. John Matuszak was a highly touted talent who developed into a strong pro player. However, his demons haunted him throughout his career.
And they eventually contributed to his untimely death.
Matuszak’s passing demonstrates how NFL players’ trappings may also ensnare them.
John Matuszak did not live up to his draft status, but he still had a successful career
When John Matuszak entered the NFL, many anticipated him to be a much better player.
Nonetheless, he had a successful career.
Matuszak, a defensive lineman from the University of Tampa, was the Houston Oilers’ first-round pick in 1973.
His alma mater abandoned football a year later due to budgetary concerns.
Matuszak, also known as “The Tooz,” tried out for the Houston Texans of the World Football League.
However, his run with the OG Texans lasted only seven plays because the Oilers served him with a restraining order to prevent him from playing for two clubs at the same time. Matuszak didn’t stay long in H-Town.
A year later, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for Curley Culp and a first-round pick.
The move was unquestionably beneficial to the Oilers.
Culp went on to become a Hall of Fame nose tackle with them, whereas Matuszak was only with them for a year before being traded to Washington, who dismissed him shortly after.
In free agency, he joined the Oakland Raiders.
This was the only moment in his career when he felt he was on solid ground in an organization, contributing to two Super Bowl titles in six years.
After a year on the injured reserve list, he retired in 1982.
He also had a respectable acting resume
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Matuszak was recognized for his large personality, which he used to land jobs on television and in films.
According to IMDb, most of his characters were football players or gentle giants, with the first appearing in the 1979 film North Dallas Forty. However, in an iconic piece of ’80s pop-culture history, he merged the former’s physicality with the latter’s emotional depth.
In The Goonies, he played Sloth Fratelli, the disfigured but good-hearted son of the wicked family.
Matuszak had to go through a lot to become Sloth. The layers of makeup for the job took five hours to apply.
Throughout the decade, Matuszak appeared in shows such as M*A*S*H, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, and Miami Vice.
His demons eventually played a role in his collapse
However, most people remember Matuszak for reasons other than his film and television appearances.
He passed away at the age of 38.
The cause of death was heart failure caused by a prescription medication overdose.
His blood also had traces of cocaine in it.
Matuszak’s substance misuse issues and excessive partying were well known to those around him.
On rare occasions, his escapades were deemed amusing.
During Super Bowl week, before the Raiders faced the Philadelphia Eagles, his late-night trips on Bourbon Street kept the mood light for his teammates.
However, it was a source of concern the majority of the time.
He nearly died at Chiefs training camp when he mixed Valium and beer.
A coach rushed him to the hospital in time to save his life.
Matuszak tried Alcoholics Anonymous and other treatment options, but none of them worked for him.
His addictions eventually killed him.