Ryan Leaf was a top NFL draft pick and again on the run from the law

Dave Masko's picture

He’s been named the No. 1 “draft bust” in NFL history, but that’s the least of Ryan Leaf’s worries now that this former NFL star quarterback is on the run again after Texas police issued two arrest warrants, announced April 26.

The irony of today’s NFL draft announcement is not lost on fugitive and former NFL draft pick Ryan Leaf who faces two arrest warrants after Texas police declared this one time top National Football League quarterback as “a fugitive from justice,” during an April 26 announcement that a warrant now exists to apprehend Leaf who’s now on the run, literally. Also, msn.com sports reported how “the Texas prosecutor who brokered a 10-year probationary sentence for Leaf two years ago on drug and burglary charges filed a motion to revoke Leaf's probation earlier this month. The warrants were officially issued April 23 after Leaf made an initial appearance on them April 25 via video from the jail in Cascade County, Mont. His total bond is now set at $126,000.” Previously, Leaf was arrested in Great Falls on March 30 and again early on April 2. Authorities said that both times, “Leaf was found in possession of oxycodone taken from other people's residences.” Also, Leaf was scheduled to be arraigned May 3 in the Montana case. This once top NFL quarterback is set to turn 36 on May 15.

Ryan Leaf was honored in the NFL draft in 1998

What a difference some 14 years makes for Ryan Leaf who was selected as the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft; while, ironically, today’s manhunt for Leaf comes on the same day as college hopefuls wait to see if they too can join Leaf’s ranks and become a NFL player.

Also, fans of Leaf’s may recall that this former Washington State University QB was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy after his junior year.

Fans here in Eugene, Oregon - where some of the older “Ducks” players once played against Leaf - told local TV reports that “it’s a real shame that such talent that Leaf once had is now gone down to drugs."

Sadly, the NFL seems "to do little for those suffering from concussions or have drug problems," said former Duck player Steve during a local TV interview.

Leaf falls hard from grace as top NFL QB and millionaire to drug arrests

Other than a surgery last June to remove a tumor from his brain stem, former star NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has created his own bad luck due to drug addiction, say fans of this once highly rated college and NFL quarterback.

Prior to his current arrest warrant, Leaf was in trouble with the law on April 2, when he was “arrested for the second time in four days on burglary, theft and two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs in his hometown of Great Falls, Montana,” reported Fox Sports and other sports wire services April 3.

At the same time, it was back on March 30 that Leaf was arrested in Great Falls for burglary, theft and drug charges; while in April 2010, Leaf pled guilty in Amarillo, Texas, to “seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of delivery of a simulated controlled substance, all felonies,” reported USA Today at the time when

Leaf had posted a $45,000 bond back in June 2009 for other criminal charges in Texas.

Moreover, Leaf’s trouble with the law also goes back to May 2009 when this former top NFL player and millionaire was “indicted on burglary and controlled substance charges in Texas” where he once starred as a Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

The hard fall of Ryan Leaf impacts all of football, say fans

Leaf, 35, was a former NFL player who was a star quarterback for four seasons; playing for the San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks. Leaf played college football at Washington State University, where he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy after his junior year.

Also, Leaf was selected as the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, but his official biography states how his career ended early due to injuries. In turn, the TV show “NFL Top 10” reported Leaf as “the No. 1 ‘draft bust’ in NFL history.”

Fans of Leaf recall when the Chargers signed Leaf to a four-year contract worth “$31.25 million, including a guaranteed $11.25 million signing bonus,” states a Chargers fact sheet that also explained how at the time, “it was the largest signing bonus ever paid to a rookie.”

In turn, a USA Today report titled “Leaf calls it quits,” pointed to Leaf’s pleasure on draft day when he said: “I’m looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Diego.”

Leaf was No. 2 overall pick in 1998

An April 3 report on Fox Sports says it all when it comes to the sad state of Leaf today: “We are talking about the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft being arrested Friday in Montana for breaking into the home of a friend and stealing prescription pain pills, being released after making bail, then breaking into another home of strangers Sunday in pursuit of the pills to which he is so desperately addicted.”

In turn, the Fox sports reported asserted: “Leaf is a junkie. And while there is sure to be some gleeful snickering about the continued slide of Leaf, I tend to agree that this is a damn shame. Wasting God-given talent for whatever reason is sad, and doing so because of drug addiction feels even more so. Because of the proximity of these incidents to the upcoming NFL Draft and because this is what we do, Leaf is being used as a cautionary tale about how those we believe cannot miss often do. We look for deeper meaning and life lessons. If anything, Leaf is a lesson for all of us on the importance of following our gut.”

NFL may be blamed for drug use, say experts

As for how Leaf fell from grace, Fox Sports thinks the football system may have something to do with it. “Maybe, Leaf would still be breaking into houses in Montana in search of drugs if NFL general managers had listened to their guts and let him slide in the draft. Maybe, this drug addiction has no connection to the problems that caused him to wash out of the league after four years and make him arguably the biggest bust in NFL history. Or maybe, this is who he is.”

“Our sympathies usually extend as far as a guy’s career, and once he has stopped producing, then we stop being sympathetic. Leaf had so few friends even when he was playing, a product of his attitude and his failure. He was, by all accounts, a gigantic ass. The thing is, to listen to the West Texans tell it, by the time he arrived out there he had been humbled. He was a pretty good quarterbacks coach at West Texas A&M, too,” added Fox Sports.

Meanwhile, this and other sports TV shows are now spotlighting how Leaf “was arrested in Texas in 2008 and eventually pleaded guilty to breaking into the home of a West Texas A&M player and stealing prescription medication. He looked to have righted himself after this, disappearing from view until recently. Now we have two arrests in four days in Montana. And while it is a cautionary tale about listening when people tell you who they are, more than anything it is a damn shame.”

At the same time, a Eugene, Oregon, football fan recalls meeting Leaf last year when he was in town to sign copies of his Ryan Leaf his autobiography "596 Switch: The Improbable Journey from the Palouse to Pasadena.”

The fan said: “How could this football superstar fall so low to be out of the game after only four years and now hawking this book,” he said. “I guess something happened to him.”

Image source of now fugitive Ryan Leaf from police mug shots. Photo courtesy Texas police, per an official press release stating a warrant now exists for this former NFL football star.

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