Vincent Jackson death: Ex-NFL star Ryan Leaf says NFL gives 'two s***s' about players' mental health
Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has alleged that league bosses "don't care" about Vincent Jackson's untimely demise. Taking to social media, the former San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys footballer said in a video post that his "NFL brothers continue to die and nobody’s doing a goddamn thing about it."
Leaf has previously spoken about dealing with his own mental health and substance abuse problems in his Montana hometown. This week, however, he was prompted to speak out following the shocking death of the 38-year-old ex-Buccaneers star in Florida.
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On Monday, February 15, Jackson was found dead at the Homewood Suites in Palm River Road, Brandon. Taking to Twitter, Leaf lashed out at NFL for allegedly failing to care about its former players' well-being. The former quarterback noted the attitude of league bosses towards footballers' mental health issues post-retirement. In a loaded two-minute tirade, Leaf said he refused to "stand by and watch my brothers disappear because the multi-billion [dollar] corporation won’t do the right thing."
I don’t know who needs to hear this, or if I just needed to say it, but I will not continue to stand by and watch my brothers disappear because the multi billion $$$ corporation won’t do the right thing. @nfl @NFLPA do something!! #igoturback #nflbrotherhood pic.twitter.com/rQciHiPSgZ— Ryan D Leaf (@RyanDLeaf) February 16, 2021
He continued: "I don’t know what the f*** to do anymore. My NFL brothers continue to die and nobody’s doing a goddamn thing about it. The NFL just doesn’t f***ing care. They don’t care. They’ll write condolence letters and s**t like that, but if they were invested, they’d actually put some money behind the Legends Community and into the mental health, substance abuse side of it. Once you’re bad for the brand, the shield, they could give two s***s."
In an emotional outburst, Leaf said he was struggling with "survivor's guilt." "I don’t know what the hell to do. They don’t get how precious life is. Then I have this f***ing survivor's guilt. A ton of it," he said, before urging NFL chiefs that they "need to do something. Just be part of the solution, please."
Staff at Homewood Suites said Jackson, a resident of South Tampa, had checked into the hotel on January 11 and had been staying in a room since that date. Police officers spoke with Jackson's family members on February 10, when they called in to report him missing. Authorities filed a formal report on February 11, but the "missing person's case was canceled" the following day after the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office "assessed Jackson’s well-being." The athlete was then found dead at "about 11.30 am on February 15 in his hotel room by a housekeeper."
The Sheriff's Office said there were no apparent signs of trauma, but the county medical examiner is yet to establish a cause of death. "We are shocked and saddened to hear the terrible news regarding the loss of Vincent Jackson," Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer said in a statement. "During his five seasons with our franchise, Vincent was a consummate professional, who took a great deal of pride in his performance on and off the football field." Glazer described Jackson as a "dedicated father, husband, businessman and philanthropist, who made a deep impact on our community."
Leaf, who spent the 2001 preseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was let go before the start of the season. The ex NFL quarterback was a star athlete at Washington State University before he became a Heisman Trophy finalist and second-overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers.
After leaving professional football, Leaf reportedly became addicted to prescription pills, which led to burglary and drug charges and a prison sentence, Leaf said in 2019. In October 2020, the former NFL star pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge to avoid jail time as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, according to The Sun.