One of the biggest flops in NFL draft history is proving to be quite the warrior in retirement.
Former Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf had part of a brain tumor removed by doctors back in May, and now the former Washington State star says he needs radiation treatment for the part of the tumor that couldn't be removed.
"I had most of the tumor removed back in May," said Leaf, 35, in a live chat with fans on the Seattle Times website. "I'm very grateful and blessed that it was benign. I do have to go to Southern California and go through six weeks of radiation starting in the middle of November, but it's just another bridge I need to cross."
Leaf had seven hours of surgery May 25, just a week after being informed he had a tumor growing near his brain stem.
The former No. 2 overall NFL draft pick is a recovering drug addict; he spent 42 days in a rehab facility trying to end his addiction to pain killers. Now, sober for nearly three years, Leaf explained how his bad habits were formed:
"I had eight surgeries in 15 years and took them for physical pain. Before you know it, your body becomes addicted to it."
Leaf is admirably comfortable with his reputation, and the man who was so defensive during his career is
Famous Knock It Off Rant:
unafraid of others' judgement now. Check out this hostile question from the Times chat:
"What qualifies you as a motivational speaker? Choking in the Rose Bowl? Biggest NFL draft bust of all time? Drug addiction? I'd think that you'd be more like Exhibit A on what not to do."
And here's Leaf's answer:
"I have failed so many more times than I will succeed," he said, "but I've done it at the highest possible level. And at this time and age, people are more apt to listen to somebody who has more celebrity and notoriety. That's a shame, but it's a reality. and I'm more than happy to carry that torch."
Leaf has found other things to fill his time as he recovers from addiction. "Writing became an outlet for me, as well as working out," he said.
The 6-5 quarterback had a 4-17 record in 21 NFL games started for the Chargers and Cowboys from 1998 until 2001.
A native of Great Falls, Mont., Leaf has returned to live in the great outdoors of Big Sky Country and says he
Ryan Leaf On The Simpsons:
spends his time traveling, speaking and writing. He's got a three-book deal about his football and personal life. The retired quarterback is hoping to give back but is "not trying to change anybody's opinion."
Some have said Hollywood could eventually decide to make Leaf's failures into a major motion picture. The man who was picked second to Peyton Manning knows just who would play him in a movie about his life.
"Will Ferrell," Leaf said.