Wednesday, April 14 2010 2:14 PM EDT2010-04-14 18:14:49 GMT
Former Washington State and NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was sentenced to 10 years of probation after pleading guilty to eight felony drug charges in Texas.>>
Former Washington State and NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was sentenced to 10 years of probation after pleading guilty to eight felony drug charges in Texas. Texas District Judge John B. Board also fined Leaf $20,000. He could have faced up to 36 years in prison were he found guilty through a trial.>>
Leaf, who was also a Heisman Trophy finalist, pleaded guilty to eight felony drug charges in Amarillo, Texas. In addition to probation, he was fined $20,000. He told reporters after his sentencing that he is ready to turn a new leaf. And he wants to rebuild his relationship with Washington State.
First things first: he explained why he didn't tell anyone about his drug problem.
"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," he said while holding back the emotion. "There's a popular saying, 'Once a Coug, always a Coug'. It's really true."
Leaf went on to say, in what was apparently a prepared statement, that he has received support from a variety of sources - including fans of Washington State.
"So many people in and around Washington State have reached out to me to help me," he said. "There are no words that can express my heartfelt gratitude."
Leaf also said he was relieved to have the whole episode behind him - from the legal issues to the drug addiction. He admitted to checking himself into the Orchard Recovery Center near Vancouver, British Columbia where he underwent 42 days of inpatient treatment for his reliance on prescription painkillers.
"Since then I have continued to seek therapy and do anything that would help me become the man I and so many others know I can be," said Leaf.
"I finally had to look squarely in the mirror, and what I saw was a guy who wasn't living a life of integrity," said Leaf of what it took for him to admit he had a problem with prescription drug addition. "I was lying to myself and hiding it from those around me.
"My secret came out though and forced me to confront my addition, but also ask for help. That is a key piece of addiction: asking for the help. To anyone out there who is afraid of what they might find it they take an honest look in the mirror, please ask for help. You don't have to battle it alone."
If Leaf violates the condition of his probation he could face several years of prison time. He is reportedly working for a company in Montana selling vacation and convention packages.
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