At one time, Ryan Leaf was the hottest pick in the NFL draft.
“It was a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was four, five, six years old. I wanted to be a professional athlete,” Leaf said.
Back in the 1998 draft, Ryan Leaf was on top of the world. He was drafted second, just behind Peyton Manning, and a promising career in the NFL.
“That was an accumulation of a dream. The hard work, the patience of my family and the sacrifices they made.”
While Manning went Indianapolis, Leaf made a B-line to the San Diego Chargers. The future looked bright for the former Dallas Cowboy, that is until life sacked him.
“I just didn’t live up to expectations playing wise, and so I medicated myself once the competition and I guess the fame, of some sort, was away. I really didn’t have an identity.”
On the field, Leaf was coming up short and off the field, the story was the same. He became addicted to pain pills, and his life was spiraling out of control, and he ended up in jail.
“Burglary, I ended up walking into random people’s homes knocking on the door. (If) no one was available, I would try the handle, walk right in. Most people in this country have some sort of opioid painkillers sitting around in their medicine cabinet.”
Leaf is not alone when it comes to opioid dependency. Now on the field of recovery, Leaf’s big play in Dallas this Saturday is to host a free to the public town hall meeting on the opiate epidemic in America.
“If you are struggling, reach out," he said. "Just make the phone call. You don’t have to do this alone.”
The town hall will take place at the Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas