Every single time I bring up Ryan Leaf's name, the reaction from San Diego Chargers fans is to spew nothing but hate and vitriol at the man, and I'm sick of it.
Yes, Ryan Leaf's NFL career was a failure. Yes, he's one of the worst draft picks in NFL history. Yes, he ruined the San Diego Chargers for a number of years (although the rookie salaries at that time deserve equal blame).
No, that does not give you the right to tear down the man at every single opportunity without sounding like a hate-filled jackass.
Ryan Leaf has obviously had some struggles away from the field, too. He's been making the media rounds this week, 14 months removed from a 32-month stint in prison. He's clean and sober. He's gotten his life back together. He's looking for a third chance.
Ryan Leaf with Kevin Acee (audio)
Ryan Leaf with Marty Caswell:
Ryan Leaf with Dan Patrick:
I don't want to make any excuses for Leaf because he's not making them for himself.
However, I do want to say this: I know addicts. I love addicts. I've struggled with addiction in my own life, and I've seen addiction destroy people in my own family.
I believe Ryan's story. I believe that he was handed painkillers by a doctor that didn't know he was an addict. I believe that, at that time, he didn't have the strength to say no or the ability to stop after he said yes. I believe that led to a spiral that ended with rock bottom.
I believe him when he says he's sober now, but that's no guarantee he'll be sober forever. I believe that he wants to be better. I believe that support, in this situation, might help him. I believe that hate for him, just because I'm a San Diego Chargers fan, would be stupid, can only result in negative things, and is incredibly selfish.
I hope you'll join me in forgiving Ryan Leaf, who's just trying to get his life together.
"What was I supposed to do? Give up?" - Ryan Leaf