When someone discusses NFL busts, they likely mention former NFL player Ryan Leaf. For years, the quarterback has been the butt of jokes. While some may shy away from talking about their past, Leaf has always been candid with his struggles on and off the field. When the NFL posted a video on Instagram, Leaf had a little bit of fun at his own expense.
‘Is that a lot?’
The NFL hyped up the 2019 season by highlighting the fact that Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has already racked up nine interceptions in his young career. It is the mark of a great defender, and the NFL has high hopes for the young star. Ryan Leaf, however, was unimpressed. Rather, he didn’t know whether to be impressed.
Leaf took to the comment section for a little self-deprecation, asking “Is that a lot? Cause I had 33 in 3 years.” He was joking, but after the career and life he’s experienced, it’s good to see him having a little bit of fun.
Ryan Leaf just never lived up to the promise people thought he had. While being drafted alongside Peyton Manning, he had some unfair competition to live up to. Try as he did to make it in the NFL, he’s statistically among the worst quarterbacks ever. Leaf was wrong about his stat. He had 33 interceptions in his first two years — and 36 when you include his brief third year in the NFL.
If this wasn’t awful enough, during that stretch, he only had 14 touchdowns, completed only 48% of his passes, and amassed a record of 4-17-0. It is, by all means, one of the most high-profile trainwrecks the NFL has ever seen. Sadly, this paled in comparison to the problems Leaf had off the field.
Downfall and rehab
Leaf struggled with life after his brief NFL career. He tried assistant coaching at West Texas A&M but was fired when he was caught asking players for painkillers. Later, Leaf admitted to having an addiction to pills. He was arrested for trying to steal drugs on two separate occasions, and he even went to prison after his second arrest. Decidedly, his personal life was no laughing matter.
Leaf has recently seen his life turn around. Upon release, he began to work for a recovery community and he’s even candidly acknowledged his struggles to the media, publishing a letter that addressed a younger version of himself. Leaf’s career came full circle as he is back in the football world.
Working for the Pac-12 Network, Leaf tried his hand as both a show host and in-game commentator, demonstrating his impressive insights into football. Now, he’ll work alongside Clay Matvick at ESPN to cover Pac-12 football games.
Leaf can joke about his career because he’s been able to rise above his struggles. This is why it is so refreshing to see him have a sense of humor and realign himself with the sport in a place where he can prosper.