The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of a WSU Cougar Football Legend/Bust
He quarterbacked the WSU Cougars to the 1998 Rose Bowl, and he was the second pick overall in the NFL draft.
He subsequently became, arguably, the biggest draft bust in league history. Then the serious troubles: addictions, jail and rehab, then repeating the entire process all over.
Now, he's come out the other side and wants to share his experiences with other players, hopefully steering them clear of the pitfalls that took him down.
It was in prison that he had a light bulb moment and it came from giving of himself to other people to help them. His cellmate in prison, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan challenged Leaf to stop being a complaining weakling and do something different and positive in his life. So he did. He begrudgingly went to the prison library and his pilot light was lit when he saw and felt the differences in himself and in other people when he was in service.
“I was an egomaniac with a self-esteem problem and that’s what most addicts are like,” Leaf said. “I was a drug addict long before I ever took a drug. I think it was just exacerbated by the fame and the fortune of it all. I was so scared of everybody that I worked so hard to try to be better than everybody else. It didn’t work out. And it’s a humbling thing when you finally have an understanding of who you are.”
You can catch Ryan Leaf as a color commentator for ESPN regional football later this year, and Leaf is also busy counseling players through the NFL Legends Committee, about what happened to him and and how he can be of service to his fellow NFL veterans once their career is over.