Montee Ball opens up about his alcoholism, hoping to help others

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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.

27 responses to “Montee Ball opens up about his alcoholism, hoping to help others

  1. “‘[The NFL] is a very money-driven organization that kind of takes away from the joy of the sport.'”

    I think a good part of the NFL’s audience feels the same way, but football’s football. My father always told me that college was better because they play for honor instead of dollars.

    It’s nice to see Ball take a step in the right direction with his life. Hopefully it’ll remain that way and I don’t see him in the news for anything other than good things. Best of luck to him.

  2. Alcohol is also a depressant which just adds to the viscous cycle. “I need to drink to feel better” cycle.

    What goes up must come down. As great as you feel at the party you can feel equally as bad when the buzz wears off.

  3. We all make mistakes when we’re young people. Some worse than others but if you learn from them as Ball seems to have done, you end up a better person when its all said and over.

  4. Well at least he wasn’t smoking that devil weed! It was just good ole alcohol.

    Take it from someone who had issues with alcohol in his past and now my only “vice” is a toke or 2…If I had started off with weed instead of alcohol I would have saved myself and family a whole lot of grief.

  5. Wow. Imagine the stones it took to say that… Kudos to the kid for realizing it was time to grow up and being willing to admit it so publicly.

  6. I was always curious as to what happened to Montee Ball in Denver. To go from the 1st running back drafted to out of football in two years later is strange given that he wasn’t bad at football. He was not worth his draft position to be sure, but he was at least a good of a runner as Ronnie Hillman, Denver’s other back at the time.

    There had to be something else going on, and I guess the bottle was it.

    Best of luck Montee.

  7. Honestly, as the saying goes “The first step is admitting you have a problem”. It is very hard to admit that to yourself. Let alone to the world.

    Good for you Montee for trying to help these young guys out.

  8. ” to raise that kid “.
    Not exactly the way I think my father would have put it and definitely not the way I would have.
    Boy that not having a father around thing is a vicious cycle

  9. Surprised at this. (From afar) he looked like one of the cleaner cut and sensible college players.

  10. I know so many guys who started drinking heavily in college and are now 30 and either an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life

  11. @tinkletinkleonyourstar says – “”to raise that kid”. Not exactly the way I think my father would have put it and definitely not the way I would have”.

    No one cares about how you or your father would have phrased it. Judging from your screen name your father didn’t infuse you with any class.

  12. Too many people can’t face the truth when it comes to their abuse of alcohol.

    Every NFL fan should take a long, deep deep within themselves.

    It’s nice to hear his story… but… with addictions… the proof is in the long term recovery.

    ‘corvettehigh’: Montee Ball was the third running back picked in 2013 (1st – Giovani Bernard and 2nd le’veon bell)

  13. realityonetwo says:
    Apr 5, 2017 2:54 PM

    “(Insert name here) said he started drinking heavily while in college at Wisconsin, and never stopped.”
    ——————————————————
    I laughed a little too hard at this one.

  14. tinkletinkleonyourstar says:
    Apr 5, 2017 3:12 PM

    ” to raise that kid “.
    Not exactly the way I think my father would have put it and definitely not the way I would have.
    Boy that not having a father around thing is a vicious cycle
    ___________________________

    My thoughts exactly, perhaps its out of context and was asked a certain way. But he certainly distanced himself by not saying something to the extent of “raising my son”.

  15. Good for him and admitting to his problems and willingness to overcome them. I remember when Denver drated Claurett and he showed to camp with water bottles filled with Grey Goose vodka. That didn’t go over so well.

  16. Several courageous statements here. It takes a lot to A) admit you’re an alcoholic, B) apologize with no excuses and C) admit he couldn’t handle the NFL life.

    Compare this to Johnny Manziel, who thinks life is one big frat party and nothing bad he does is ever his fault.

    Much respect to Montee Ball and I hope life continues to improve for him.

  17. I feel that Ball had issues in college as well, there were whispers of him being in trouble, but since he was one of the “Big Men on Campus” he was given more slack than others.

    That partying lifestyle can attach itself to players and follow them into the NFL, just like Manziel and Gronk. The issue becomes when your drinking has such a negative effect that it causes harm to yourself, or others around.

    While you can never undo what you have all ready done, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from your mistakes and become a better person. I wish Ball the best moving forward, along with anyone else who has struggled with drinking, or substance abuse.

  18. God Bless Monte! It is 1 step,1 minute,1,hour,1 day at a time. It is a disease but that is not an excuse.
    Monte, you are young and lead an amazing life!

    Be the leader you are and show the way so others can avoid this epidemic of alcohol addiction and abuse.

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