There was a time when Montee Ball was on top of the world.
But as his NFL career and life unraveled because of alcoholism and domestic violence arrests, he’s realized that the things he might have thought were rock bottoms actually weren’t.
“I just couldn’t handle all this,” Ball told Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. “I don’t want to whine or seek public pity. But I do want to explain everything and give everybody some insight on what I’ve been battling.”
Ball said he started drinking heavily while in college at Wisconsin, and never stopped. He was such a productive back the Broncos used a second-round pick on him, but cut him two seasons later. And even though he’s 26, he says he has no interest in returning to the game.
“I started to drink a lot more and it started to pour into football,” Ball said. “If I knew we had a super-easy practice the next day, I’d go out and get drunk with a whole bunch of people. I’d wake up drunk, hit the steam room and go to practice. . . .
“Ultimately, I didn’t really enjoy the NFL as much as college. It’s a business. All in all, I was very fortunate to play for the Broncos. They were my favorite team as a child. My ultimate goal was to play for the Broncos. But it wasn’t what thought I thought it would be. It’s a very lonely, lonely world. [The NFL] is a very money-driven organization that kind of takes away from the joy of the sport.”
But his problems continued to cascade, including a pair of domestic violence arrests which left him to watch his former teammates win the Super Bowl while he was in a Wisconsin jail. He admits his drinking problem played a part in both arrests but still disputes some the facts in the case, but still took a plea deal which included a 60-day house arrest and mandatory alcohol and domestic-violence counseling.
He went into some degree of detail about those arrests, but said learning he was going to be a father last spring became a turning point for him, and that the birth of his son Maverick was his “turning point.”
“I finally realized I have a purpose — to raise that kid,” he said. “That’s a responsibility I will take.”
He’s taking other steps, including charitable efforts and writing a book about his struggles, in hopes of providing the kind of advice he wasn’t always willing to take. He’s also returned to school to finish his degree, with hopes of postgraduate program.
“I’m really focused on improving my image and relationships that I destroyed,” he said. “I let down the fans, the entire University of Wisconsin and my family. I want people to know I am deeply sorry.
“I feel way better now. I feel like I’m free.”
And he’s willing to share his story, in hopes of staying that way.