Ryan Leaf Comments on Johnny Manziel, Addiction and Substance Abuse

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2016

San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf rolls out of the pocket as he looks for a receiver in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos in Denver, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2000.  Leaf passed for 311 yards in the Chargers 38-37 loss to the Broncos. (AP Photo/Kevin Higley)
KEVIN HIGLEY/Associated Press

Ryan Leaf has struggled with substance abuse since the end of his once-promising NFL career, and the former No. 2 overall San Diego Chargers draft pick said Monday he sees much of himself in Johnny Manziel

According to the Great Falls Tribune, Leaf revealed on Fox and Friends that watching Manziel is "sometimes like holding up a mirror."

The 39-year-old former signal-caller also provided insight into Manziel's apparent issues: "This happens to anybody who's addicted to anything. It's about substance abuse; it's about whatever you use as a maladaptive behavior...it helps them numb whatever they're feeling. And I can relate totally to what he's going through."

Leaf was released from prison in 2014 more than two years into a plea-bargained five-year sentence on a burglary charge. He had also pleaded guilty to a related drug charge.

Manziel entered a rehab clinic prior to the 2015 season with the Cleveland Browns, and while it wasn't reported what he was treated for, the former Heisman Trophy winner has continued to have issues since then.

He is a free agent after the Browns released him just two years into his career, and he was dropped in April by agent Drew Rosenhaus, who urged him to get help, per SiriusXM NFL Radio (h/t ESPN.com):

I wasn't walking into an easy situation, but it has descended. It has consistently gotten worse. Quite honestly, one of the things I talked to him about from Day 1 ... was to get back to getting help, so that the reasons he was released by the Browns would be in the past and that he could move forward with his life as a positive member of society and take advantage of all the gifts that he has. ... The world can be his. But obviously, in many respects he needs guidance right now, he needs help, and needs to gain control of his life again. And obviously, before he can even think about football, he's got to do those things.

The 23-year-old quarterback has found himself in off-field trouble on several occasions, including getting indicted on a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly striking his ex-girlfriend, according to A.J. Perez of USA Today.

Manziel could face a suspension from the NFL, but it won't matter unless he catches on with another team.

That seems unlikely until his court case is resolved and—if he is exonerated in that—he can show he is healthy and ready to play.

Leaf's NFL career ended after just four seasons because of character concerns and his poor play on the field, and unless Manziel drastically changes how he carries himself, he appears destined to go down the same path.

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