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Ryan Leaf Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Violating Probation

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2014

GREAT FALLS, MT - APRIL 02:  In this handout image provided by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf is seen in a police booking photo April 2, 2012 in Great Falls, Montana.  Leaf was arrested on charges of burglary, theft and criminal possession of dangerous drugs.  (Photo by Cascade County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has been sentenced to five years in Texas prison after being found guilty of violating his probation stemming from a 2012 drug charge, but he will not be forced to spend any time in jail.

According to an Associated Press report (via ESPN.com), Texas prosecutors have decided to give Leaf time-served following his prison stint in Montana. The No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft was arrested on multiple charges after breaking into a friend's home to steal prescription painkillers in 2012. 

Leaf has spent 27 months behind bars and was paroled on the condition of completing a drug treatment program after being initially sentenced to five years for the incident. Despite completing the program last month, he is yet to be released.

Uncredited/Associated Press

Randall County (Texas) District Attorney James Farren indicated Leaf may have to return to Texas for another parole hearing in the Lone Star State to be granted his release. Leaf is scheduled back in court on Sept. 23.

"I'm disappointed that we ended up cutting the deal that we did," Farren told The Associated Press (via Fox News). "But we did, and I've got to live with it. I certainly was hoping Ryan Leaf would serve time for the offenses he committed in Texas."

Leaf was initially arrested and charged with burglary and drug charges in 2008. Doctors alleged Leaf attempted to obtain the painkiller Hydrocodone by presenting an incomplete medical history, and he was later arrested after breaking into a former football player's house where the drug was being stored.

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He was sentenced to 10 years probation and forced to pay a $20,000 fine after coming to an agreement on a plea deal with prosecutors. 

"I convinced myself it wasn't a big deal because these weren't illegal drugs," Leaf told reporters then in a statement. "But I did have a problem. It finally hit me square in the face in West Texas; I finally had to look squarely in the mirror."

A former Heisman Trophy finalist during his junior season at Washington State, Leaf entered the draft one year early and came to the NFL with massive expectations. Leaf was viewed as a can't-miss player when taken one pick after Peyton Manning and was considered by some the better of the two prospects.

Paul Klee @bypaulklee

On Ryan Leaf's 5-yr sentence, Peyton Manning: "I'm sorry to hear that. I read that as well. He's in my thoughts. I wish the best for him."

He wound up spending only four seasons in the NFL. He flamed out after three seasons in San Diego, fighting with coaches and management while struggling mightily on the field. After a 2001 release, Leaf eventually found his way to the Dallas Cowboys, where he again struggled in the final three starts of his career. 

22 Nov 2001 : Quarterback Ryan Leaf of the Dallas Cowboys rests on the sideline during the game against the Denver Broncos at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Broncos won 26-24. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

His playing days ended in 2002 after a brief stint with the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason. Leaf finished with 14 touchdown passes against 36 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 50.0 in 25 games. He is considered by many the biggest draft bust in NFL history.

Since leaving football, Leaf briefly worked as a financial consultant and was a volunteer quarterbacks coach for West Texas A&M from 2006 to 2008. He left the school after attempting to procure painkillers from a football player.

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