In the early 1990s, sports agent Josh Luchs was a young man in search of a whale, that franchise quarterback who could bring him a buy-your-first-house-in-cash payday. Ryan Leaf was a star at Washington State, a team filled with players on Luchs' bankroll. And in a bombshell confession in this week's Sports Illustrated, Luchs says Leaf was just one of dozens of college players who he courted with money, trips and girls.
I had bought a town house in Studio City, and Ryan and a lot of players knew they could crash at my place when they were in Southern California. I kept the fridge full of beer, soda and steaks, and I had every video game. Ryan stayed there a few nights, and I always showed him a good time. He was from Great Falls, Mont., and he would come out here and party with these amazing L.A. girls, and he loved it.The relationship started to go bad when Luchs' parents died in quick succession. Angry at the world and itching for a fight, he refused to pay for Leaf's friend's hotel room in Las Vegas. A fissure in their bond that would soon become a chasm when Leaf signed with another agent after going pro.
Still, of all the guys he paid, Luchs seems to hold a soft spot for Leak.
Losing Ryan, who would end up being the No. 2 overall pick in 1998, hurt, and that will never completely go away. But Ryan also did something I found somewhat redeeming. During training camp of his rookie year with the Chargers, I went down to San Diego. I met him in the lobby of the team's facility, and after coming back with me to my car he ultimately gave me $10,000 in cash -- close to the total amount I had paid him. He never explained why he didn't sign with me nor did he apologize for breaking the promise he made to my dying father, but at least he paid me back.That's just the part I thought would be most interesting to Seattle sports fans. But for a non-judgmental glimpse into the shady world of amateur athletics, the whole article is definitely worth your time.