Former NFL running back Montee Ball said he's been sober for over 450 days in his recovery from alcoholism and has returned to the University of Wisconsin to pursue a college degree.
On Thursday, Jesse Temple from Land of 10 passed along comments that the 2013 Denver Broncos' second-round pick made about moving forward with his life after football:
"Of course, I still have the what-ifs, if I didn't drink as much, where would I be? But the journey, the process that I'm in, is not to worry about that. It's very exciting to kind of figure myself out and figure out what else I'm really good at with my family behind me 100 percent. I'm happy. I'm sober. I'm looking for the next great thing in my life."
The 26-year-old Kansas native said he started drinking heavily during his sophomore campaign with the Badgers and thought he could continue to perform at a high level without a change of lifestyle.
"I drank a lot in college, and then I'd rush for 200-some yards," Ball told Land of 10. "I didn't stop, because I'm like, 'This is not going to affect me on the field.' Until it did."
He tallied 5,738 yards from scrimmage and 83 touchdowns at Wisconsin and won the Doak Walker Award at the nation's top running back in 2012.
Ball failed to replicate that success in the NFL, however. He appeared in 21 games during two years with the Broncos and spent a season on the New England Patriots' practice squad.
In August 2016, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to three charges related to a pair of domestic violence incidents. Ball explained to Land of 10 those issues were in direct connection to his alcoholism:
"It's most definitely not me. It's not me. It never has been me. For me, when people ask me this question, I tell them that addiction, my addiction, anyone's addiction makes you act uncharacteristically. That is proof. That is a 100 percent statement that you will act uncharacteristically under the influence. That's not me. Four hundred days sober, I've had no issues along those lines."
Now Ball is studying general business, coaching and statistics at Wisconsin and trying to show he's changed for the better.
"I want for people here to look at me and be like, 'OK, he's done this, this and that, what he said he was going to do. He's back. He has his head back on right,'" he said. "That's why I'm here. I wanted to show people that I made a mistake, that you can make a mistake, but it's not the end-all. You can recover from it."
Ball told Temple he's hoping to graduate in May and will then decide whether to continue school with an eye toward a master's degree or explore one of the job opportunities presented to him.