Leaf In the Wind: Lessons from Ryan Leaf

It’s sad to see another once hopeful fall away and succumb to a life of poor choices and irrelevance. Like a leaf in the wind, Ryan Leaf, former NFL quarterback of the San Diego Chargers, has been caught a second time in a matter of days for burgulery and possession of illegal prescription drugs. This is the kind of thing that you hate to see happen to anyone but especially to someone who at one time had such promise.

 The reason I even choose to blog about this is because so many student athletes and very talented young people think that they have what it takes to make it in the pros. They live with that dream of becoming a star and finally “making it”. What this story does for me is point out a few lessons that we could all learn and at least that way Mr. Leaf’s story can yield some god fruit.
Potential does not guarantee success. Ryan leaf was drafted second overall in the 1998 NFL draft. He was only second to Peyton Manning! What a study in contrasts! Leaf played a few mediocre seasons and retired at the age of 26 with a quarterback rating of 50.0. Surely this was not what he, his family, agents or teams had hoped for. At the time of the draft, people were comparing Manning and Leaf speculating about which would be the better quarterback, professional, and have the better career. I think it’s clear to see that even with Manning’s injuries, missing all of last season and recently being traded, that his choices and potential have been realized. Ryan Leaf on the other hand with so much potential has only realized that potential alone is not enough.
Controlled substances are not always controllable. Mr. Leaf was charged in 2009 for burgulery and seven counts of possession of a controlled substance which he obtained by fraud. With this he was fined $ 20,000 and 10 years of probation. Over the last couple of days Mr. Leaf has been charged again and detained this time for breaking his probation and for possession of drugs. Evidently Mr.Leaf is not able to control his addiction for either stealing or drugs or both. Isn’t this the fallacy of many who think that they can control their habits of addictions? Regardless of how strong or in control one may feel, once drugs and alcohol become a way of life, these substances have a way of controlling their hosts and undermining their futures.
Just because you know what’s right doesn’t mean you will do it. This seems to be the story of Mr. Leaf and somewhat reminiscent of many Biblical characters who had chance after chance to “fix” things and never did. I have no idea what Mr. Leaf’s religious beliefs are but I am sure that he really would have liked for his life to turn around long before now. Not that it’s too late mind you, but he had already made an attempt through writing his autobiography called “598 Switch” that was supposed to be an informative look into his life offering wisdom on what not to do. Regretfully, he has failed to live out his own words. If there’s any wisdom here, folks, it’s do what you need to do to get clean and stay clean! In a recent statement Leaf said
“I’ve made some mistakes, and have no excuses. I am using the tools I’ve learned to move forward rather than backwards, and will be open to talking about the details in the days to come. I am confident that there will be further understanding when the facts are revealed, and feel very blessed for all of the support, especially from my friends and family.”

I hope Ryan Leaf is able to get his life back on track and that he will overcome his problems and issues. In the meantime, it is my hope that the rest of us can take heed to these valuable lessons and not make the same mistakes. As you consider these things, pray for Ryan Leaf to get his life back together. Be thankful for God’s grace in your own life. Don’t be like a leaf blown in the wind!
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as Student Minister at new Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

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