Ryan Leaf looks back on the draft: I should have stayed in school


Every year at NFL draft time, Ryan Leaf’s name comes up as the example of the greatest bust the league has ever seen. Today Leaf said on the Dan Patrick Show that when he looks back on his draft experience, his greatest regret is that he decided to leave Washington State after his junior year.

“I was a very entitled, spoiled athlete at that time,” Leaf said of the 21-year-old version of himself that was taken second overall in 1998. “You don’t want to say the money changes you, but it definitely does. I think getting drafted later would have been a benefit, to sit behind a veteran quarterback and learn. But I really think the best thing I should have done was to stay in school one more year. The next year I would have had a lot of scrutiny on me, and we would have struggled because we lost so many players from the year before. I would have learned to deal with a little failing, and then when that happened in the league I could have dealt with it in a more positive way.”

Calling into the show from his home in Montana, Leaf sounded like he’s doing well, talked about recovery from painkiller addiction, and mentioned that he saved his money and is doing well financially. He also revealed that he recently visited San Diego and talked about how that felt.

“It had been seven years, which is kind of crazy to think of that,” Leaf said. “The way things turned out, the expectations that the city had on me, the way I let them down, I always felt some apprehension about doing that.”

As for this year’s draft, Leaf doesn’t claim to be an expert, but he does have a feeling that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is being set up for failure: Leaf worries that Newton is going to be thrown into a situation in Carolina where he is expected to be the leader of the franchise, when he needs more time to develop.

“If I were a general manager, which I’m not, I wouldn’t take a quarterback that high this year, just because none of the general managers seem to think there’s a franchise quarterback this year,” Leaf said. “If there isn’t, then don’t draft one.”

40 responses to “Ryan Leaf looks back on the draft: I should have stayed in school

  1. …and in closing, I’d like to give a special personal thanks to JaMarcus Russell.

  2. “If there isn’t, then don’t draft one.”

    This might be the smartest thing Leaf has ever said. Picking a QB that you don’t think is a franchise QB just to say you drafted a QB is stupid.

  3. No. You shouldn’t have been a complete dirtbag. You shouldn’t have done a million sleazy, immature things. Staying in school is just one… of very many… including several felonies.

  4. I think he’s right in that the top drafting teams are kind of forcing it in terms of these quarterbacks. There’s no home run here – why invest so much money into Gabbert or Newton when neither is anything close to a sure thing? Not that any quarterback is at first, but some are closer than others.

    And for the record I think Russell was a bigger bust, and its hard to imagine him owning up to his mistakes like this.

  5. Don’t feel bad Ryan, the Chargers do just as good of a job reaching the Super Bowl with Philip Rivers as they did with you. That team is a complete failure of a franchise, the Philadelphia Eagles of California.

  6. At least he is being honest about this, let us remember, he did not draft himself, somebody in management made that choice. I know we all would have taking the bucks even if we knew we would fail.

  7. Leaf should be happy now, J-Russell took over his spot at the top & THAT was no easy chore….
    J- Russell was a lazy slob….I mean his “Life Coach” fired him for crying out loud, let that one sink in a little….Leaf was at least correct in his self evaluation of himself coming out of school although he could have added selfish unaccountable to that description to be more accurate

  8. Sounds like he’s learned from his experiences. Would be nice if some players in or soon to be in college would listen. Still, hard to expect a 20 something year old kid that’s been BMOC for years deciding to stay in school, in a situation that will likely drop their draft status and make them far less initial money, to better their longer term career aspirations.

  9. “Football advice from Leaf…PRICELESS!!!!”

    Realizing you agree with him in regards of “If there isn’t, then don’t draft one,” — MIND BLOWING.

  10. To a guy who’s name is synonymous with Draft Bust it sounds like he’s grown up a lot since his NFL days. He can now honestly look back and give good advise to young prospects. Too much of everything (money, praise, expectations) are piled up on these guys at such a young age that it is a wonder that more of them don’t end up like Ryan. They are paid more in signing bonus than most people earn in a lifetime. With there new found freedom and finance they don’t always have the wisdom to handle it. Get off him, he’s suffered enough.

  11. Sounds like a guy with a lot of regrets. No matter what you do brother you will always be viewed as a clown and one of the biggest busts of all time.

  12. capslockkey says: Apr 28, 2011 12:05 PM

    …and in closing, I’d like to give a special personal thanks to JaMarcus Russell.


  13. Wait! Ryan you came back here and didn’t call me up to go have a beer in Old Town? Dude, you’re still screwing up. 😉

  14. Saved his money? Are you kidding me wasn’t he arrested for breaking into a home and attempted burglary a couple of years back. This guy has been and always will be a douche bag.

  15. @kyleortonsarm

    Your jab at Philly is as weak as the QB’s arm you have in your handle. Loser.

  16. he saved his money, well then, guess he made one very smart move….not handling his finances!

  17. I do agree when when said the media is setting Cam up to fail but not in the vain he seems to be implying. I personally think the media as made it okay to be so overly critical of Cam that they can intentionally suffercate him out of the NFL.

    Ryan left the NFL, after given many chances. I guess he forgot that part. I doubt VY and Russel was given as much chances as him by the media. And I don’t feel the media is going to give Cam as many chances either cause that type of luxury isn’t afforded to black QBs from what I’ve seen. Vince is still in the NFL but you guys talk about him as if he’s already gone.

    Also, Cam and Ryan Palmer may share the same sign but they’re not the same people. Cam got spanked at 18 and had to put things into perspective. Ryan was spoiled and as far as I’m concerned still spoiled considering all he has done and got 10 yrs probations…like WTH…Not surprising many of you want to quickly dismiss

    And finally as someone pointed out, the obvious double standard treatment of the black vs. white athlete in the NFL by the sports media. I just read Jimmy Smith and I don’t think there was a stone left on turned as far as his off the field sins. But not one mentioning in this article of Ryan’s background sins nor as his sins associated with his “character.” Nope, and not one comparison to another pass white QB or athlete who has failed. But you manage to slip Cam Newton’s name in there and not Blaine’s.

    What clear double standards.

  18. Childressrulz:
    You’re an idiot. It doesn’t matter how much money he has. They are prescription painkillers. That’s what he was after, not money or tvs. Moron.

  19. well well well leafy sounds like he grew up… too bad he couldn’t have gave some of that money he stole from san diego back. i’m sure they would’v appreciated it. next thing u know he’ll write a book or something.

  20. Not every NFL No. 1 draft pick turns into a dunce. There’s a guy in Indianapolis that has done very well thank you. Sometimes it is the organization, coaching as well as player personnel that determines how well a player develops. The Skins and Raiders are a prime examples of how not to draft and run a franchises.

  21. Yeah, spending another year strutting around the Washington State campus like the boy king would have done wonders for his maturity level.

  22. I hope he’s turned things around. But, if not…he can always join Charlie Sheen and Randy Quaid on the “I’m right and everyone else is wrong,” tour.

  23. In reference to calling the Chargers the “Philadelphia Eagles of California”, let me point out that the Eagles have been to two Super Bowls. The fact that they didn’t win either of them simply puts them in a class with many of the other NFL franchises. All I’m saying is that having a “franchise quarterback” guarantees absolutely nothing. All things considered, you can’t simply lump Ryan Leaf and Phillip Rivers into the same class.

  24. Recognizing your shortcomings and the sins of the past is a sign of maturity. He will always be one of the biggest busts in NFL history, however, but at least he’s grown up some. I was surprised that he saved his money.

  25. It has nothing 2 do with race. J-Russell was given all kinds of chances but he picked drinking nyquil and being lazy. Cam had a few mess up in his pass. And if it’s about race y is Ryan mallett getting slammed as hr is just saying

  26. what a douche…”wish he had stayed in school”…should be “wish I could’ve grew some balls” . Complete failure as NFL QB. Thank god Chargers fans dont have to live with the stigma of the worst NFl draft pick ever. That dubious title goes to the Raida nation and their Aunt Jemima Russell.

  27. @jennstergersburnedretinas
    I heard you have an exact replica of a Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl ring. All you need to do is hold your bare hand out and look at it.

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