ESPN comes to CMR to tell Ryan Leaf’s story from a different angle


Photo by Julia Gremaux

ESPN producer John MInton works with Bryan Brousseau and Jeff Grieshober to shoot a setting shot for the documentary centered around CMR graduate Ryan Leaf.

Ashton Palen, Sports Editor

1992 was a great year for CMR. It was the year that we took the state championship in football, thanks in part to quarterback Ryan Leaf.
Leaf was the starting quarterback for the Rustlers, and he went on to do some great, and some not so great things. After graduating from CMR, Leaf went on to play for the Washington State Cougars.
He lead the Cougars to the 1998 Rose Bowl, only to lose 21-16. During the NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers first pick was Leaf.
After playing three seasons for the Chargers, his contract was dropped and subsequently picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But before the start of the season he was dropped. After the Buccaneers dropped him, the Dallas Cowboys took up his contract, but he appeared in only four games before he again was dropped. Leaf ended up retiring from the NFL at the age of 26.
After his NFL career, Leaf developed an opioid addiction. Leaf was arrested three times for burglary, theft, and drug charges. But after getting out of prison in 2014, Leaf decided to share his story in hopes of steering others away from the mistakes he had made.
Leaf’s life sparked an interest in ESPN producer John Minton III.
“We’re looking to cover every chapter of his life,” Minton said. “He’s helping people all over the country.”
Minton is making a documentary that will be airing on ESPN on May 21.
“I think Ryan’s story could be inspirational on a level that not many other people can have,” Minton said.
Minton’s documentary is focused on Leaf’s entire life, not just his time during and after the NFL.
“People need to understand where he was, in order to understand where he is now,” he said.
Minton is working with Leaf in order to spread his message all over the world.
“He [Leaf] is honest and candid about his life,” Minton said, adding that he is excited about the prospect of this documentary.
“This [the documentary] has the potential to have a big impact.”
Leaf appeared on the Ellen Show on Tuesday March 14 to discuss his work with the Focused Intensity foundation. He raises money for people who need help with paying for rehabilitation treatment.