Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf was released from prison on Wednesday after spending about two years behind bars. Leaf was convicted of breaking into a home in Montana and stealing prescription pills in 2012 after being arrested twice in four days.
The story went like this: Leaf was arrested after police found hydrocodone pills in his golf bag and bonded out. A couple days later, he was arrested again, this time after a couple caught him in the act. Police matched up GPS from his truck with the location of the burglary and he was charged with multiple counts.
He was took a plea deal and was sentenced, ending up in a residential treatment program before being kicked out of said program and sent back to prison. He lasted all of about six months in rehab, and prison was probably the best place for him at the time.
"If they put me in Montana State Prison for five years, that'd be okay by me. I don't really have any drive to be out. I'm just so miserable out there," he apparently told his cellmate. This appeared in a lengthy Playboy article (SFW) written in Jan. 2013 that is still worth your time.
All of this followed Leaf's troubles in Texas, where he was a coach at West Texas A&M. In 2009, Leaf was arrested for burglarizing a player's home for prescription pain medication. He was sentenced to probation, released, and then went about rehabbing his image.
We were all fooled then. Leaf wrote a book about his career at Washington State and said all the right things. He stepped back into the public eye and openly talked about his shortcomings and problems with addiction. It was a feel-good story, in a way, about a player who had alienated just about everyone he'd come into contact with during and after his playing career. He was trying to make it right, we all thought.
He had plenty of stress in his life at the same time, and also underwent treatment for a brain tumor -- all things that would put a massive strain on anyway. Yet he kept saying mostly the right things. It felt like he finally had turned a corner.
As it turned out, he was still doing the same things. Addiction is, of course, a never-ending work in progress and Leaf was never recovered. He may never be.
He'll get another chance at freedom now, albeit limited freedom with regular parole checks*. We'll see how he does, but after his past episodes it's completely understandable that everyone would be wary that Leaf is actually rehabilitated. Hopefully he has it together and can bounce back.
*There remains the possibility Texas could extradite him. He was sentence to five years there, but given credit for time served.