Broncos’ 2013 second-round pick explains how he drank his way out of the NFL

John Breech, CBS Sports

As the third running back taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, it seemed like Montee Ball had a bright future in the NFL when the Broncos selected him with the 58th overall pick.

However, Ball’s bright future in the league never materialized, and now we know why: The former Wisconsin running back says that he drank himself out of the NFL.

In a revealing interview with the Sporting News, Ball said that he got drunk at least four nights a week during the NFL regular season if the Broncos were playing a Sunday game.

The running back said that he would usually find time to drink on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays during the season. Ball had thought he was being coy about his issue until Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville called him out after a meeting one day.

“He talked about how he could smell the alcohol on me and that he thinks I may have a problem with drinking,” Ball said. “He said if I needed any help with that he could reach out to people I could talk to. I didn’t listen to him.”

During his two seasons in the NFL, Ball didn’t really listen to anyone. After being drafted, the NFLPA held regular seminars to let rookies know about the potential pitfalls of playing in the NFL. Unfortunately, Ball didn’t listen to them, either.

“I wouldn’t take any of it seriously,” Ball said. “I was naive enough to think my playing days would last forever. I would literally sit in the back of the room texting or being on Instagram not paying attention to the professional explaining to me about preparing for life after football and how important it is.”

Besides his alcohol problem, the running back also said that he made friends with “bad people” during his career.

“I failed to use my platform to help others and to use the NFL as a stepping stone in life,” Ball said. “I surrounded myself with bad people, not on the team but in the city. I was naïve enough to believe I had all the answers.”

According to Ball, his drinking problem started in 2011, just before his junior year at Wisconsin.

“I started to drink a lot more and it started to pour into football,” Ball said. “If I knew we had a super-easy practice the next day, I’d go out and get drunk with a whole bunch of people. I’d wake up drunk, hit the steam room and go to practice.”

The lowpoint for Ball came in February 2016 when he had to watch his former team win Super Bowl 50 from a Wisconsin jail cell. Ball, who as cut by the Broncos before the 2015 season started, was behind bars because he had been arrested on a felony battery charge just two days before the Super Bowl.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Ball said of watching Denver win. “At one point, I was on top of the world and now watching the team that cut me a few months prior from a jail cell, that stung a lot.”

Back in August, Ball was sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and and playing a role in two separate domestic abuse incidents.

In 2016, Ball learned that he was going to be a father for the first, time and that’s when he decided to take control of his life.

“That was the turning point,” Ball said. “I finally realized I have a purpose — to raise that kid. That’s a responsibility I will take.”

The admitted alcoholic, who says he’s now sober, is returning to Wisconsin this summer to take classes at the school where he once dominated on the gridiron.

“I don’t want to whine or seek public pity,” Ball said. “But I do want to explain everything and give everybody some insight on what I’ve been battling.”

The 26-year-old finished his NFL career with 731 rushing yards and five touchdowns over two seasons with the Broncos.

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