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Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf reportedly arrested on misdemeanor domestic battery charge

UPDATED: Fri., May 22, 2020

Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf eyes the sidelines before the start of the Cheez-It Bowl on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, at Chase Field in Phoenix. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf eyes the sidelines before the start of the Cheez-It Bowl on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, at Chase Field in Phoenix. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Ryan Leaf, the former Washington State quarterback and No. 2 overall NFL draft pick who recovered from substance abuse problems to carve out a career in sports broadcasting, was reportedly arrested Friday in Palm Springs, California, on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge according to TMZ.

According to a booking report filed by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Leaf was charged with domestic battery of a spouse, former spouse, fiancee, dating partner, or co-parent and was arrested by the Palm Desert Police Department around 2 p.m. Leaf was then booked into jail at 3:32 p.m., according to the report.

Bail for Leaf was set at at $5,000. He was still in custody when this story was posted and no further details about what may have led to the reported dispute are available. Leaf is set to appear in court at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The 44-year-old has been engaged to Anna Kleinsorge, a former Georgetown volleyball player, since 2017. She gave birth to their first child, McGyver, in October 2017. Leaf was formerly married to Nicole Lucia, at the time a cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers – the team that made Leaf the No. 2 pick of the NFL draft in 1998 – but the two separated in 2003 and later filed for divorce.

On Thursday, Leaf posted a video of his son running in circles in their house, along with a caption that read, “Come on…this is one cute kiddo, loving this time with my family. Look what we made @bannanazon #loveyou.” The Twitter handle, @bannanazon, is linked to an account for Leaf’s fiancee, Kleinsorge.

A native of Great Falls, Leaf has spent the past two years working as a college football color analyst. He worked multiple WSU games for the Pac-12 Network before inking a deal with the ESPN networks last July. Leaf and broadcast partner Clay Matvick were on the call for the Cougars’ most recent game, a 31-21 loss to Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Last year, Leaf was also inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the 2019 class, and was celebrated on the field during the Cougars’ Sept. 7 game against Northern Colorado.

Leaf’s career in the NFL lasted just five seasons. The former Heisman Trophy finalist is widely considered one of professional football’s biggest disappointments, especially in relation to where he was picked in the 1998 draft, just one spot after Indianapolis Colts great and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

Seven years after his NFL career ended, after Leaf made just 21 starts with the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys, he encountered legal trouble and was indicted on burglary and controlled-substance charges in Texas. Three years later, Leaf was in Great Falls when he was arrested on burglary, theft and drug charges, then arrested less than a week later on similar charges.

Leaf’s situation worsened when he was found guilty of “behavior that violated conditions of his drug treatment placement” and subsequently accused of threatening a program staff member at his rehabilitation center. In May 2014, Leaf was incarcerated in Shelby, Montana, and four months later was sentenced to five years, although he was released seven months later.

Since his release, Leaf has managed to curb his substance abuse problems and used his platform to speak to various groups about the severity of drug addiction. In addition to his work in sports media – Leaf co-hosts a Pac-12 radio show on Sirius XM – the former QB has served as a program ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community, a group of sober living houses in cities across the country.

Leaf delivered a speech at a HOF ceremony in Spokane the night before he was celebrated in front of tens of thousands of fans at Martin Stadium, telling the crowd, “I can only expect there were many years when the athlete maybe deserved to be here, but the man didn’t live up to it. And that’s why I think it’s so much more special today. I’m so glad I’m sober to appreciate what you guys have given me.

“Over the last 21 years since I left Washington State, for a long time I didn’t represent the crimson and gray very well. And because my name was recognized and talked about all the time when I messed up, you guys were drug down into the mud with it, and you didn’t deserve it. It’s an opportunity for me to apologize to all of you for having been that person for so long.”

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