Great Falls native Ryan Leaf to speak at MSU-Northern
Former NFL quarterback, Pac 10 champion and ex-CMR High School great Ryan Leaf is coming to Havre to tell is story and speak to students and athletes at Montana State University-Northern.
Leaf, who recently had surgery to remove a benign tumor from his brain stem, will give a speech to MSU-N students at New Student Orientation on Aug. 27. Leaf will speak from 6-8 p.m., and he is also scheduled to talk to the MSU-N football team according to MSU-N Assistant Dean of Students Bill Lanier.
Leaf, 35, is a native of Great Falls. A former NFL quarterback and standout collegiate quarterback from Washington State University, Leaf led the Cougars to the Rose Bowl in 1998, earning him honors as an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist.
The San Diego Chargers selected Leaf as the second pick in the 1998 NFL draft. However, Leaf's NFL career did not go as planned. For the first time in his life, he had to learn to deal with losing. Injuries on the field resulted in eight surgeries in 15 years, leading to an addiction to prescription painkillers.
In 2008 while coaching at West Texas A&M, Leaf's addiction to prescription painkillers not only became public, but also thrust him into a long and embarrassing journey through the legal system. In retrospect, Leaf says being caught in his addiction turned out to be life saving. He voluntarily sought help through a noted recovery center in British Columbia and has now been clean for nearly three years.
Leaf is also a first-time author, releasing the first of three books this fall. In "596 Switch," Leaf recounts his improbable journey as a high school athlete, to Pullman and Washington State University. He shares the inside story of collegiate athletics, and the excitement of that 1997 Cougar season that led to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. "596 Switch" will be available mid-October through Crimson Oak Publishing.