A little late putting together my post today and now I’m glad I was. We’ve got some extra news that adds some weight to it. As you all know, former Cougar quarterback Ryan Leaf has waiting for his sentence on eight felony drug charges in Texas. Well, the ruling came down today. We have that news and Leaf’s statement on the link, so read on.
• We’ll get to links, but before we do, we have the Leaf stuff. The judge in Amarillo gave the former Cougar no jail time, but sentenced him to 10 years of probation and a $20,000 fine. You can read the entire story here. The interesting aspect of the whole day was Leaf’s statement, the text of which follows …
To start, I want to publicly apologize to Coach Carthel and the entire staff and team at West Texas A&M. I’ve apologized personally, but I would like to do so publicly as well because as anyone involved in team sports knows, the missteps of one person can leave a mark on an entire group. Worse, as an assistant coach, I was supposed to be a mentor, not the source of trouble. I’d like to thank Coach Carthel, Mr. McBroom, and President O’Brien for all their friendship and professionalism, in my tenure on the staff and for the way they handled my departure.
I’m pleased, relieved and thankful to now have this episode behind me. And when I say that, I’m talking about far more than the legal aspects – I’m talking about my long reliance on prescription painkillers. I’m proud to say that I have been clean for more than 17 months. In November of 2008 I voluntarily checked myself into the esteemed Orchard recovery center near Vancouver, B.C., and spent 42 days in in-patient care there, with an additional two months in the extended care program. And since then have continued to seek therapy and do anything that would help me become the man I and so many others know I can be. I have come away from that experience with a support group, with renewed faith in myself, and, as fate would have it, a great new job as well. I also came away with an even greater appreciation for my incredible family – my mother Marcia, my father and hero John and my brothers Jeffrey and Brady. Their support sometimes took the form of tough love and sometimes it took the form of an encouraging word or hug. All I can say is that I’m very blessed to have them in my life. When you hear people describe Montanans as salt-of-the-earth, I think my mom and dad are the perfect example of what that phrase is all about.
Another part of my family – my extended family – also has been a tremendous source of strength and comfort for me over the last 17 months: the fans and graduates of Washington State University. For years, I kept a distance from the Cougar Nation because I felt I let them down in my professional career. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s a popular saying, “Once a Coug, Always a Coug.” It’s really true. So many people in and around WSU have reached out to help me. There are no words that can express my heartfelt gratitude.
Finally, I’d like to share some thoughts about addiction and my particular brand of it – prescription painkillers. Deep in my heart, I knew I had a problem, but I convinced myself it wasn’t a big deal because these weren’t illegal drugs. They were prescribed by a doctor for my various shoulder, knee and wrist injuries. I didn’t have a problem, I told myself, it’s the people involved with cocaine who have problems. But I did have a problem. It finally hit me square in the face in West Texas. I finally had to look squarely in the mirror. And what I saw was a guy who wasn’t living a life of integrity. I was lying to myself and hiding it from those around me. My secret came out, though. That forced me to confront my addiction, but also to ask for help. That is a key piece of addiction: asking for help. To anyone out there who is afraid of what they might find if they take an honest look in the mirror, please ask for help. You don’t have to battle it alone. I know it’s hard. I wished I had asked for help long ago. But I am proof that it’s never too late, and that the battle can be won. Today, thanks to the support, guidance and true caring of so many amazing people who love me unconditionally, I am clean. I’ve been clean for 17 months – a fact I’m very proud of, and a fact anyone addicted to prescription painkillers can hopefully look at, and know that there is real hope for a better tomorrow.
• Now back to the current team. We had our story about Hallston Higgins and the linebacking corps in today’s paper, along with some more notes here on the blog. … Otherwise, there’s not much to report from Cougar nation. As you know, today is the first day of late period for letter of intent signing with basketball, but as far as I know, there won’t be any signings at WSU. If that changes – and we’re talking about 17-year-old kids in some cases here – we’ll let you know.
• That’s it for this morning. We will be back as news warrants. Until then …