Roughly three decades ago, Art Schlichter had it all. After a decorated stint as the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Schlichter was the fourth overall pick of the Baltimore Colts in the 1982 NFL Draft, and the door was open to a very promising career, not to mention a very lucrative one.
It didn't pan out that way. Schlichter's pro career failed to develop, and he ended up gambling away what money he made. Before long, he was out of football. Shortly thereafter, Schlichter was in prison.
According to the Associated Press on Wednesday, it won't be long before Schlichter is in prison again. He is facing federal charges of bank and wire fraud and of filing a false tax return after being arrested earlier this year, and he stands to serve as many as 10 years in prison.
These charges were brought on by a scam Schlichter ran in which he promised to use his contacts to get sports tickets at low prices. Most of these tickets were for Ohio State football and NFL games, and Schlichter ended up pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The only problem was that Schlichter didn't have contacts, and he used the money he got for personal expenses and for gambling purposes.
At this point, Schlichter is pretty much a walking testament to the fact that a gambling habit is indeed a habit. He supposedly started gambling when he was in college, and he just was never able to stop once he got started. He even gambled in prison.
To be sure, Schlichter is not the only infamous gambler the sports world has ever known. Pete Rose is the poster boy for gambling pariahs, and NBA greats like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley will forever be known for their own gambling tendencies.
The difference with Schlichter, though, is that his gambling addiction destroyed his career, and at this point, it's fair to say that it has destroyed his life as well. Try as he might, he just couldn't stop, and he had to cross whatever lines he could in order to feed it.
For the casual sports fan, there's really not much that can be said about all this. No doubt some will still freely mock Schlichter for being one of the great busts in NFL history, but that is a petty concern next to the destruction Schlichter's addiction has wrought on his life.
One hopes that Schlichter can successfully be rehabilitated. But even if that is impossible, one hopes that people, especially young professional athletes, will take note of Schlichter's story. It is, in every sense of the term, a cautionary tale.