washington state blog

Ex-WSU Cougars quarterback Ryan Leaf and his addiction

Light in the darkness

Addictions are the dark corners of life that nobody wants to talk about until something serious happens that thrusts the issue into the light for everyone to see.

Addictions interrupt life and tear apart families and friendships. If that persons addiction continues, the end result is a person living a life in a former shell of himself looking for someone to help, only to find darkness.

Unfortunately for Ryan Leaf, this has been his life living with his addiction since he was taken #2 overall in the 1997 NFL Draft out of Washington State.

When news broke Friday of Leaf’s latest arrest on burglary, possession of dangerous drugs – both felonies – and a misdemeanor count of theft (allegedly Leaf broke into a friends house and stole pain medication) it continued a sad story of problems for Leaf that has stretched out for over a decade now.

To make matters even worse, Leaf was arrested again early this morning on charges of burglary, theft and two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs — two days after posting bail of $76,000 for the same charges.

Allegedly for breaking into the house of an acquaintance. Again.

When I initially heard the news on Friday, my knee jerk reaction wasn’t sympathy.

No, my reaction was anger.

Ryan Leaf

I cannot have sympathy in this instance for Ryan Leaf.

It was anger because it had looked like Leaf had finally put away the problems of his past.

Three years after being put on probation for pleading guilty in Amarillo Texas for obtaining a controlled substance through fraud as a QB’s coach at West Texas A&M University, Leaf looked and sounded like a guy who was finally enjoying life.

Every time he stepped in front a camera, he sounded contrite for his disease.

He had accepted his NFL legacy and I really believed that it wasn’t something he was constantly trying to fight.

I was angry because I felt let down for believing in one of my childhood heroes.

Then I had to stop and take a very deep breath.

As someone who knows all to well what kind of destruction addictions can do to a family, I couldn’t be a hypocrite about Ryan Leaf. There are two things that everone needs to understand when dealing with someone with a serious addiction.

  • #1. The addictive person will let you down. It will happen. It’s just the nature of the beast.
  • #2. The family members that supported that person will feel slighted or disrespected when the addict relapses. Whether that last statement is fair or unfair, that’s the common emotion attached to families dealing with addicted family members.

It’s understandable to see people having sympathy for Ryan especially after hearing about the benign tumor being removed from his brain stem in 2011, but unfortunately I cannot have sympathy in this instance for Ryan Leaf.

For whatever his reasons were, his addiction drove him to allegedly break into his friends (support system) houses to obtain pain medication. Accountability has to be made here. His addiction cannot be made a crutch or an excuse for his actions.

No matter how bad his disease is, it doesn’t mean Leaf gets a free pass.

The truth of the situation is sometimes people have to learn the hard way to live life.

In the case of Ryan Leaf I believe he has.

I also believe there comes a time when you have to turn your back on an addict in order for that person to finally get it. In order for you to get better, you have have to do it on your own.

Having a support system in place is nice, but it doesn’t work.

Because as soon as times get too tough, you run away to self medicate, and when the normal avenues to obtain said medications are not available, you will allegedly rob your support system to get them.

I truly wish Ryan Leaf the best in life.

No one deserves to live life in a daily hell of an addiction, but unfortunately sometimes people choose these things for themselves. It takes a strong person to overcome these problems, but as we have seen over the last four days, Ryan Leaf is not an emotionally strong person.

Just because I’m not behind Ryan anymore doesn’t mean the entire Cougar Nation doesn’t want you to get better.

We do.

We just know that your disease is something that right now you cannot overcome, and hopefully you will because life in the sun is a great thing that everyone deserves.

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About Insider Steve

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  • http://twitter.com/NWSBBrandon Brandon Choate

    This is REALLY well written, Steve. Addiction is a seriously sad thing in life and I do believe in turning your back when things have sunk too low.

    Twice in 3 days being arrested and now there are reports that he’s been doing this for a year and a half possibly. That’s just sad.

    I really do hope he beats this because even though I have serious disdain for Cougars and douche bags, nobody should have to suffer that fate or make other people miserable dealing with your own issues.

    Good work on this one.

  • Derek Sparks

    #16, I’m pulling for you buddy. Love ya like a brother! Like I told you before, the power is in your story. Hurry up and get well so you can continue the good work you were doing with the youth, hurry up so you can finish where you left off.  Your bro, D.Sparks #5

  • http://theflyingv.com/ Kevin Vanstone

    Well said, Steve. Really tough to watch such a talent slip to such low levels these days, hopefully Leaf can still turn it around.

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