Ryan Leaf is back in the news for all the wrong reasons, arrested Friday in Montana on burglary and drug possession charges. It's another downward turn for a figure who recently talked of turning it around after battling addiction and having a benign brain tumor removed.
NFL.com's Around the League sat down with Leaf at Super Bowl XLVI, where the former quarterback came across as humble, owning up to past errors and hoping his story would help others.
"Accepting my addiction to painkillers and going to rehab in 2008 changed my life completely for the better," he said. "And since that point, it's been an unbelievably different perspective and enlightening every day."
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Leaf is considered one of the biggest QB flops in history, drafted by the Chargers second overall in 1998 only to disappear from the league following the 2001 season. He talked of his playing days as a distant shadow, saying his low point unfolded far from the crowded stadiums of the NFL.
"The hardest thing I've been through? Letting down my little brothers. Letting them down that I'd become a prescription-painkiller addict. They looked up to me my whole life," Leaf said. "I just feel like I embarrassed them so much. Of course, I didn't. They love me to death. It's just, there's that pride thing of mine."
Leaf re-emerged in recent years a changed man, something he chalked up to a growing process: "I don't know if it's such a transformation," he said. "I think it's just me trying to be a better person, and in doing so, you usually develop better relationships than you ever (would) before, when you kind of thought that you were the end all, be all of things."
Added Leaf: "I can't do all of it on my own, because I tried to do everything for so long. One of the biggest things is asking for help. Throwing your pride away and asking for help when you need it, whether it be something as small as a ride to the airport -- or a ride to rehab."