Ryan Leaf has had a tough run. Nobody can dispute that. The former No. 2 NFL draft pick behind Peyton Manning and Heisman Trophy finalist is once again in the news when he surely would rather not be. He is being investigated for fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance and has been on leave of absence from his coaching job at West Texas A & M. Yesterday he resigned.
It’s another strange twist in the saga that has defined Leaf’s post-college career. For those who weren’t aware, apparently there’s a mockumentary movie about Leaf’s troubles. Here’s a trailer.
Leaf is a Great Falls native who had a spectacular career at both C.M. Russell and Washington State University. At WSU, he threw for 33 touchdowns in a season, then a Pac-10 record. But today he is known mostly for his off-field outbursts during his brief stay in the NFL.
He had one of the worst careers, statistically speaking, of any NFL quarterback in history. His career numbers are: 14 touchdowns, 36 interceptions and 48.4-percent completion rate. He is considered one of the biggest busts the league has seen.
At 6 feet 5 inches with a sturdy build and an impressive arm, Leaf was truly gifted. He was made to be a quarterback. But he wasn’t prepared for the limelight or pressures of an NFL quarterback. There is no job in professional sports that carries such considerable pressures.
So out of the limelight, but still involved with football, is perhaps where he felt most comfortable. Like coaching at small West Texas A & M, for example. Now it remains to be seen what lies around the corner for the troubled Leaf, but as a fellow Montanan and a believer that most gifted people eventually find an appropriate outlet for that talent, I hope he finds his way into the news for something other than tabloid fodder and run-ins with the law.
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