In the late 1980s, the Cleveland Browns, led by former University of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar, had one of the most potent offenses in the NFL.
He, along with wide receivers Webster Slaughter and Reggie Langhorne, led the Browns to three AFC Championship Games, including two heartbreaking losses to John Elway and the Denver Broncos.
After playing six years in Cleveland, Langhorne would move on to the Indianapolis Colts. Then he suddenly retired, and at the time, no one knew why.
Reggie Langhorne’s secret
What fans didn’t know was that Langhorne, who had a successful nine-year NFL career, was experiencing unhealthy alcohol use and was on the verge of being kicked out of the league.
In a revealing interview with Yahoo Sports, he explained that he experienced substance misuse for a long time.
He said for years he told a lie to anyone who would ask him why he retired. He said he was just tired and his body was worn out. But that wasn’t true.
“It was all false,” Langhorne said. “It’s so hard to look people in the eyes and lie.”
Langhorne turned to alcohol for comfort during a bout with loneliness while living in Indianapolis.
“Before you realize it, you’re doing that all the time,” he said. “Before I realized it, that obsession with drinking was a problem.”
Although he was sober when he played, Langhorne would find himself drinking after games. For a while, he was able to keep his secret until the NFL finally caught up with him. The league informed him of his four-game suspension at the beginning of the 1994 season.
Not long after, Langhorne was cut by the Colts, and then he retired.
The Cleveland Browns’ issues with substance misuse
Although Langhorne’s problems didn’t begin in Cleveland, his former organization has recently dealt with several players who have experienced unhealthy alcohol and drug use.
Two of the most infamous cases were former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Manziel had high expectations coming out of college. However, his partying ways, including drinking, eventually contributed to him getting cut from the Browns and falling out of the NFL.
Gordon admitted in an interview with GQ a few years ago that he started using drugs in the seventh grade.
“I didn’t want to feel anxiety, I didn’t want to feel fear. I didn’t plan on living to 18. Day-to-day life, what’s gonna happen next?” Gordon said. “Truthfully, that’s where it started from for me. The anxiety, the fitting in and stuff. Not being comfortable with who I was.”
Gordon is still suspended from the NFL after failing to follow the league’s drug policy.
Langhorne has beaten his demons
Langhorne has become a healthier, happier person, but it wasn’t easy.
In 2013, former Browns teammate Kevin Mack showed up at Langhorne’s door. After chatting with Mack, Langhorne was ready to get his life back on track.
Mack took him to Lutheran Hospital in Cleveland. For the first time in a while, Langhorne listened to the voices of reason.
“I started to listen. I started to take directions,” he said. “I got honest with myself and realized I had a major problem.”
As of 2020, Langhorne has been sober for six years.