Sep 27, 1998; San Diego, CA, USA: FILE PHOTO; San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf (16) is hit by New York Giants defensive end Chad Bratzke (77) at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Brouillet-US PRESSWIRE
Ryan Leaf's second arrest on small-time painkiller theft is more sad and desperate than funny.
When Ryan Leaf had been arrested once in the last week or so it was cause for a number of goofy posts about just how far he had fallen since being selected right behind Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft. Fair enough—the guy's lived an absurd life, and he was back in the news for all the wrong reasons. When he was arrested again on Monday—well, now I can't really do much except be depressed about it, because a second arrest tamps down the goofiness and amps up the sheer desperation of the act. Forget about the draft, forget about his football career, forget about whatever else with which Ryan Leaf has blessed us in his unpleasant life in the public spotlight. The guy's just clearly, life-threateningly addicted to oxycodone, and he's going to keep stealing them because that's the only way he can get them.
And yes, the NFL is probably going to have a hard time dealing with this now that we know the drug is a painkiller. I'm not going to blame football for Ryan Leaf's personal problem, but I think physical pain is just one of the many things we were underestimating about the NFL's effect on its players (and their non-guaranteed contracts) before the concussion and bounty scandals forced us to begin thinking about them. The NFL didn't fail Ryan Leaf, but it put him in a situation in which his own personal failings had cause to be amplified.