Published April 26, 2012
The contrast couldn't have been more stark Thursday night between the NFL's future stars and a cautionary tale from the league's past.
On the night when Andrew Luck, the quarterback out of Stanford, was scooped up by the Indianapolis Colts as the year's top draft pick, a former high-profile draft pick, Ryan Leaf, was declared a fugitive from justice in Texas.
Authorities in Texas issued two arrest warrants for Leaf's arrest. The Texas prosecutor who brokered a 10-year probationary sentence for Leaf two years ago on drug and burglary charges filed a motion to revoke Leaf's probation earlier this month.
Leaf was arrested in Great Falls on March 30 and again early on April 2. Authorities said that both times he was found in possession of oxycodone taken from other people's residences.
The warrants to bring him to Texas were issued Monday. Leaf made an initial appearance on them in District Court Wednesday via video from the Cascade County jail in Montana. His total bond is now set at $126,000.
Leaf, a former Washington State quarterback, was at the top of the crop of NFL recruits in the 1998 draft but was edged out for the first pick by Peyton Manning, who was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts.
The San Diego Chargers picked Leaf second, but he failed to make the grade before retiring in 2002 at the age of 26, citing injuries for his decision.
Leaf, 35, has been on probation since April 2010 after pleading guilty in Amarillo to seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and delivery of a simulated controlled substance.
This year, the first pick again when to the Colts, who had let Manning go after a year in which he had been sidelined by injury. The team chose to replace him with Luck, who many believe is the most NFL-ready passer to enter the league since Manning.
"You don't really replace a guy like that," Luck said. "You can't. You just try to do the best you can. Obviously, he was my hero growing up."
It's hard to imagine anyone at the draft ceremony Thursday night in New York City saying the same about Leaf.
The Associated Press and NewsCore contributed to this report.