ESPN Hires All-Time Draft Bust as Football Analyst

Ryan Leaf will serve as a college football analyst next season

Ryan Leaf playing for the San Diego Chargers in 2001. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
Ryan Leaf playing for the San Diego Chargers in 2001. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
By Evan Bleier / July 15, 2019 10:11 am

One of the biggest busts in NFL history is getting a chance to call college football games courtesy of ESPN.

Ryan Leaf, who was drafted No. 2 overall by the San Diego Chargers in 1998 but lasted just four years in the NFL, will call college football games next year alongside play-by-play announcer Clay Matvick.

Following his career in the NFL flaming out, the former Washington State star battled substance addiction and served time in prison after breaking into a home to steal prescription drugs.

“Five years ago, sitting in a prison cell, I would have never imagined that I was going to be part of ESPN and the Disney Corporation,” Leaf said. “If you would have told me that, I would have said you are absolutely crazy. And I can’t believe it. I lay my head down every night with a ton of gratitude.”

Leaf, 43, finished third in Heisman voting in 1997 and helped lead the Cougars to the Rose Bowl that season.

Following the announcement of his hiring, Leaf expressed his thanks on social media.

“Ryan has experienced the highs and lows in the game of football, putting him in a position to relate to a wide range of situations players can find themselves in,” ESPN senior vice president of production Lee Fitting said of the hiring. “He will be able to rely on those experiences — including an unbelievable college career where he was an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist — in his analysis, making him a tremendous asset for our team.”

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