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Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle John Matuszak (79) during the Chiefs 24-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers on October 27, 1974 at San Diego Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by James Flores/Getty Images)
Sloth’s Tragic Real-Life Story
History - Science
John "The Tooz" Matuszak — who played the enormous, gentle, unconventionally-featured Sloth in 1985 classic “The Goonies” — had a childhood full of grief and misfortune. Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder affecting the lungs, took two of his siblings and sickened his younger sister, whom he often visited at the Milwaukee hospital.
As a kid, John Matuszak was gangly and tall but hadn't yet developed that football player physique, making him an easy target for bullies. The bullying was part of what inspired Matuszak to become an athlete — a tall, bulky, football player who couldn’t be easily bullied — and eventually one of the NFL's most charismatic players.
Matuszak’s experiences with bullying largely contributed to his mean, outburst-prone, and larger-than-life public persona. In fact, during his sophomore year at the University of Missouri, Matuszak punched another student for "fondling his date," and lost his scholarship — he later ended up at the University of Tampa, where he became the No. 1 NFL draft pick in 1973.
During his second season with the Oilers, Matuszak decided to sign a contract with the Houston Texans in the World Football League while he was still with his current team. After that, Matuszak was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, who traded him to Washington, who cut him just two weeks later because of his reputation for drinking and debauchery.
Matuszak eventually ended up with the Oakland Raiders who were desperate enough to pretend they didn't know about his vodka and Valium addiction. While Matuszak played a big role in the Raiders’ Super Bowl victories, he was constantly in the spotlight for unpleasant reasons — including an incident where he was accused of assaulting a male dancer at a party.