In a Thursday interview on ESPN's "Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable," Leaf gave a frank answer when asked who he was as a 22-year-old rookie.
"I was a talented egomaniac with a self-esteem problem," he said.
Leaf, 35, discussed his struggles to deal with failure at the pro level after a celebrated run at Washington State and how an addiction to painkillers led to a 42-day trip to rehab that changed his life.
"I just actually focused on me, really looked inward, realized, 'Hey, Ryan, the world doesn't revolve around you. You are no more important than anybody else out there,' " he said.
Leaf is resigned to his fate as an epic draft bust, but he's determined to be remembered for more than just that.
"It sucks, but hey, it's not going to define me," Leaf said. "I'm not going to allow it to. I'm going to make a difference in other people's lives because who I am as a person rather than who I was as a football player. I think that if I was only known for who I was as a football player and only that, it just would have been a tragedy."