Q: Who Played Sloth in ‘The Goonies’?

A: Former Oakland Raiders defensive end John Matuszak

Matuszak grew up in a family riddled with tragedy, as two brothers died from cystic fibrosis as children, and his sister also suffered from the disease.

Matuszak himself was thin and frail as a child but turned to weight training and sports in high school and eventually became a Wisconsin state champion in the shot put.

It was his promise on the football field that attracted colleges, though, and he parlayed a successful season at Fort Dodge Junior College into a scholarship offer from Dan Devine at the University of Missouri.

When Devine left the school, so did Matuszak, who landed at the University of Tampa.

There, he developed into an All-American defensive end in 1972, and the Houston Oilers made him the first overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft.

After a flap around his involvement with the World Football League, the Oilers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs for Curley Culp and a first-round draft pick before the 1973 season.

In turn, the Chiefs sent him to the Washington Redskins two years later, but Washington promptly released him.

Finally, a game into the 1976 season, the Oakland Raiders signed “Tooz” as a free agent.

1979 Topps John Matuszak

By the end of that season, he was starting on the D-line, and he helped the Raiders win the Super Bowl.

They would repeat that feat in 1980, and then Matuszak retired after the 1981 season.

Late in his NFL career, Matuszak began to catch the eye of Hollywood producers, who thought his unique look and physicality might play well on the big screen.

He made his screen debut as football player O. W. Shaddock in North Dallas Forty in 1979, then followed that up with big-man roles in Caveman and The Ice Pirates, as well as cameos in several television series through the mid-1980s.

Most fans associate Matuszak with one role, though — the scary, goofy, lovable, helpful Sloth in The Goonies (1985).

Over the course of the movie, Sloth graduates from disfigured and terrifying captive to a hero of the group, friend to Chunk, and devout family man.

Building on the success of The Goonies, Matuszak ramped up his TV work through the rest of the 80s,.

By 1989, his mug was a regular part of the television landscape — though without a regular, recurring gig — and he was starting to do more film work.

Sadly, Matuszak died from an overdose of Darvocet early in the summer of 1989 at just 38 years of age.

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