Former Cougar, ex-NFL QB Ryan Leaf receives 5-year sentence, treatment

A jail booking photo of Ryan Leaf from Great Falls, Mont.

Former Washington State and NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf on Tuesday received a five-year sentence with the state Department of Corrections with the recommendation of some of that time being spent in treatment and prerelease,  the Great Falls Tribune reported.

The sentence, handed down by District Court Judge Kenneth Neill in Great Falls, closely followed a plea agreement reached May 8, the newspaper said.

Leaf pleaded guilty last month to breaking into a house and illegally possessing prescription painkillers.

The plea agreement called for him to be sentenced to nine months in a secure drug treatment facility, followed by time in a prerelease center as part of a five-year term with the Montana Department of Corrections for the burglary charge.

Leaf likely will serve nine months in the Nexus drug treatment facility in Lewistown, Mont., followed by another six months in a prerelease center. The rest of the five-year DOC commitment will likely include supervised community release, the Tribune said.

In a statement to the court, the newspaper said, Leaf seemed to be asking the judge to impose a harsher sentence than what the versions recommended by his own attorney and the prosecution.

"I've found that 80 days in jail had been somewhat of a sanctuary," Leaf said.

Leaf said that he had caused a lot of pain to his family and his voice broke when he talked about what his recent behavior had caused them.

"They believe I've held them for ransom for 36 years, and I don't know why I should have to do that any more," he said.

Leaf said he didn't want to undermine his attorney, who asked the judge to impose a sentence free of jail time, and said: "Five to ten years of Ryan-free drama for this community -- particularly for this nation -- would be pure bliss," he said

"I'm lazy and dishonest and selfish," he later said. "These were behaviors I had before my addiction kicked in."

As part of that plea deal, Leaf agreed to a five-year commitment to the Montana Department of Corrections, but the deal also calls for Leaf to spend nine months in a DOC-affiliated drug treatment facility in Lewistown followed by six more months in a pre-release center.

Since Leaf committed the crimes in Great Falls while on probation in Randall County, Texas, he is likely to face a separate punishment in Texas next.

Leaf's plea agreement includes a recommendation that his punishment here run concurrent to whatever punishment authorities in Texas decide to impose, the Great Falls Tribune said.