Ryan Leaf, a former San Diego Chargers quarterback for whom the team had high hopes in the late '90s, said on the syndicated Dan Patrick Show yesterday (May 4) that his prison sentence was good for him in helping him turn his life around. He said he had attempted suicide in a garage after hitting a low point. A family member interrupted the attempt.
The Chargers gave up a lot to get Leaf — he was second overall draft choice in 1998 (Peyton Manning was first) — but he did not perform and was out of the National Football League in four years.
In 2010, he agreed to plead guilty to stealing pain pills. On the Patrick show, he said he had become addicted to Vicodin. He said it was the only drug he had ever taken, but it was "like heroin for somebody else."
Leaf said on the Patrick show that "the power, the prestige, and the money" became his demons. He said he did not want to let his teammates know that he was in personal trouble because a quarterback is supposed to be a leader.
He compared his own experience to that of Johnny Manziel, the former Texas A&M star quarterback who has been a bust in the NFL. Manziel has been videotaped drinking heavily at parties. In assessing the plight of the former Cleveland Browns quarterback, Leaf said, "behaviorally, it seems like you could be holding up a mirror to me."
Patrick pointed out that some people have questioned how sincere Leaf is about his alleged recovery.
(corrected 5/9, 10:45 a.m.)