Ryan Leaf in 1998 had one of the most promising futures of any quarterback in history. Now, his future seems as bleak as a hardened felon, as he stares at the possibility of serving 50 years in prison on probation violations, burglary charges and possession of Oxycontin that he did not have a prescription for.
To really understand his fall, you have to look back at where he was 14 years ago. The major debate in the sport’s world at the time of the 1998 NFL draft was, Ryan Leaf or Payton Manning. Who would the Colts take with their number one draft pick? Over and over the debate raged, and it seemed like a toss up of whom would go first. It ended up being Payton Manning, who would go on to be possibly the greatest quarterback of all time, with Leaf getting drafted 2nd, and receiving a huge multi-million dollar contract.
Ryan Leaf’s on-field troubles began almost immediately. He fought with coaches, other players, missed meetings, and struggled with the media. He was a hothead and showed a lack of maturity that astounded everybody who watched him self-destruct. Over the next several years, teams gave him chance after chance, (his physical talents were so immense that everyone believed he could turn it around.) But, eventually the NFL decided he didn’t deserve any more chances, and he finally ended his career as probably the biggest bust in NFL history.
Similarly, his post NFL life seems to be following the same trajectory. In 2010, he was working as a quarterback’s coach in Texas and was arrested on a burglary charge, accused of breaking into a player’s home and stealing prescription medications. It was discovered during the investigation that he had received over 1,000 pain pills from pharmacies as well. He was granted probation and seemed to be turning his life around, even writing a book about his days as a star college quarterback.
But like so many people that have fallen victim to Oxycontin addiction, it appears that he has once again relapsed. According to the investigation reports, suspicions were first aroused when he began receiving weekly deliveries of small packages requiring payment on receipt of around $500. This is typical of someone receiving mail-order deliveries of prescription medications. The culmination of the investigation occurred on March 30th, 2012 when officers arrested Leaf after finding Oxycontin pills in a bottle marked with the another man’s name in his golf bag.
Rock Bottom – We Can Only Hope
He was later released on bail, only to be arrested again two days later, this time after residents returned home to find a man inside, claiming he was in the wrong house and leaving. After they discovered that some pills had been stolen they called the police and picked Leaf out of a lineup. Upon searching his home, the police found another stash of Oxycontin and arrested Leaf again, this time for burglary.
Ryan Leaf, who once had a world open to him that millions dream about, now faces a possible 50 years in jail. If only he had sought treatment for OxyContin addiction, the debilitating addiction that has obviously been destroying his life and probably the lives of those around him who can’t help but watch him self-destruct again.