(INDIO) – Former USC 1990 Rose Bowl winner and Los Angeles Raiders first-round draft pick Todd Marinovich, who last played professional football in 2001, has signed a contract with the SoCal Coyotes and will battle for the starting job with America’s #1 Developmental Pro Football Program™.

The Coyotes announced that Marinovich, 6-4, 225, whose once-promising career was derailed by drug abuse, will attempt to become the oldest professional quarterback since mythic Raiders legend George Blanda led Oakland on a remarkable AFC Championship run in 1970.

The Coyotes have scheduled a noon press conference Friday at The Vue at Indian Wells Golf Resort to introduce Marinovich to the media, players and fans.

In 2016, Coyotes QB Jacob Russell, 6-4, 235, was a 67-percent passer, with 35 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 137.1 NFL QB rating was among the nation’s best.

Marinovich, who turned 48 July 4, will compete in camp with second-year incumbent and former NAIA National Player of the Year Jacob Russell. As a rookie in 2016, Russell, 25, threw for a league-best 2,048 yards, 35 touchdowns and only two interceptions in the Coyotes perfect 7-0 season.

The perennial champion Coyotes anchor the Pacific Coast Division of the World Developmental Football League, and open the 2017 season at their Shadow Hills home September 2 against the California Sharks.

The Coyote model and infrastructure – which requires players to adhere to a strict code of conduct, fulfill community service, and engage weekly role modeling and mentoring – might have made all the difference for a young Marinovich decades ago.

The rise and horrific fall of his decorated NCAA, NFL, CFL and AFL career was one of the most documented and publicized in modern football history.

Marinovich first joined the Coyotes as an assistant coach in February 2017. Repeated workouts with the team, however, raised eyebrows, and questions.

“Todd’s been focused on sobriety and God since he’s been here,” said head coach J David Miller. “Beyond that, we have no expectations, just one day at a time. But when he started throwing, his mechanics, arm strength and accuracy are obvious. Overnight he went from being the QB coach to the elephant in the room.

Marinovich was drafted ahead of Brett Favre in 1991, before most SoCal Coyotes were born

“Nobody really wants to admit what we were seeing,” the coach added. “But perhaps the only thing more outrageous than a 48-year-old quarterback is to deny a talented man the opportunity to play the sport he loves, break the tape, and to leave it on his terms. We anticipate the naysayers, but Todd’s passion, sincerity, humility and desire is extraordinary.”

The Coyotes did seek a second opinion. Before making a decision, they put Marinovich through a Run ‘n’ Shoot crash-course of their high-octane Silver Stretch offense with none other than its creator, coaching legend Darrel ‘Mouse’ Davis.

Miller’s mentor since the mid-80s, Davis is considered the Coyote patriarch, and author of their fire-breathing playbook that has led the team to four titles, two undefeated seasons, and dozens of national scoring records.

Davis was impressed, and Marinovich passed his workout with credibility. Prominent Coachella Valley orthopedic surgeon and Coyotes team physician Sydney Pardino, a former team doctor for the New Orleans Saints, handled the quarterback’s medical intake. After a battery of tests, he declared Marinovich fit for training camp, which opens August 10.

“He’s a physical specimen,” said Pardino.

On March 15, 2017, Marinovich was sentenced in Orange County to three years’ probation for a drug relapse that resulted in another arrest last year – one of many that destroyed his career. He has been clean and sober since August 2016, and has been tested weekly since joining the Coyotes.

Since then, schools, churches and organizations have opened their doors to Marinovich, who has shared his cautionary tale to packed houses throughout Southern California.

THE LOS ANGELES RAIDERS selected Marinovich in the first round of the 1991 NFL Draft with the 24th pick overall. He was the second quarterback taken, ahead of Brett Favre, and signed a three-year, $2.25 million deal. Marinovich made his NFL debut on Monday Night Football, against the Dallas Cowboys on August 12, 1991 – before most SoCal Coyotes were born.

AT AGE 43, George Blanda personally won five critical games with a combination of touchdown passes and game-winning field  goals to ‘defend the shield’ of the Oakland Raiders in 1970.

AT AGE 45, George Foreman had to knock out undefeated 26-year-old Michael Moorer  in the 10th to win the IBF world heavyweight title on November 5, 1994

WHAT WE’RE ABOUT – The SoCal Coyotes are the national standard of American developmental football. Our non-profit provides elite athletes a professional environment that refines and showcases their skills through our trademarked processes similar to the NBA’s D-league and MLB’s minor-league systems. NFL executives have named the SoCal Coyotes organization America’s #1 Developmental Football Program™ for its national, scalable brands, five-year operating track record, verifiable data, youth curriculum, sales, public-private sector alliances, and measured results.

FAITH, FAMILY, FOOTBALL is the real mission of the Coyotes – and not surprisingly, something that dates back to the great Vince Lombardi in 1959. More than game tape. More than a weight room. More than a 40 time. The Coyote mission of ‘Building Champions, Building Men™’ reaches far beyond the actual gridiron, deep into the development of young athletes as fathers, husbands, and men.

SEVENTY PLAYERS EACH YEAR earn the distinction to ‘Defend the Shield™’ in the uniform of the SoCal Coyotes. Many will earn a shot with NFL, CFL or AFL opportunities, or graduate into business careers. Visit www.facebook.com/thesocalcoyotes.

-SVP Ron DiGrandi ([email protected])

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