Ray Lucas in rehab for painkillers
Ray Lucas didn't shy away from hits on the football field, a tough-guy quarterback who played more like a linebacker during his NFL career.
OTL: Painkiller Addiction in NFL
ESPN commissioned the first scientific study of prescription painkiller use by retired NFL players. John Barr reports on the findings. More
Turns out, all of the pounding took quite a toll. Lucas suffered from chronic headaches and depression because of the injuries during his eight-year career.
The 38-year-old Lucas recently checked into a Florida rehabilitation center for an addiction to painkillers, and is sharing his experience with fans in a Facebook diary to try to help others.
"Today in a session for the first time in my life I was dealing with the emotional impact of my departure from the NFL," Lucas wrote on Facebook on Monday. "This is the start of the fight & I AM WILLING TO FIGHT!"
Currently a studio analyst for SportsNet New York, the former Rutgers star was in Dallas last week doing radio spots before the Super Bowl. Lucas left Dallas and checked into Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches in Florida on Saturday to begin treatment.
Since announcing on Facebook he was checking into rehab, hundreds of fans have left messages of support.
"Nervous about everything, my palms are sweating," Lucas wrote. "This weather will be good for my body. Got a text from my mom. She & my family are relieved I am here. I am on my way to start my life over. Can't believe all the FB responses already. It's a good sign & the support is needed."
Lucas said former Buccaneers center Randy Grimes, a counselor at the facility who suffered from the same addiction, is a source of motivation for him.
"This place is amazing," Lucas wrote. "Having another player, Randy Grimes, who has been through it by my side is a difference maker."
ESPNNewYork: Lucas' Journey
ESPNNewYork.com Jets reporter Rich Cimini will be posting updates on Ray Lucas' recovery when the former quarterback posts new entries to his Facebook diary. Blog
Lucas served mostly as a backup with New England, the New York Jets, Miami and Baltimore before retiring after the 2003 season. Lucas threw for 3,029 yards with 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 55 NFL games, including nine starts with the Jets in 1999 and six with the Dolphins in 2002. He also ran for 396 yards and four touchdowns in his career.
Lucas migrated from the Patriots with coach Bill Parcells to the Jets, with whom he had his most memorable year. In 1999, he went 6-3 as the starter and completed 59 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown.
Lucas' most recent post was Tuesday night, after what appeared to be a particularly tough day.
"Day 3 of detox was filled with a lot of anxiety," Lucas wrote. "I was moved from the detox unit into the Seaside condos to start full days of various therapy sessions, group meetings & other treatment. I am nervous & feeling on edge."
Lucas had surgery on his neck and back in September, performed by Pain Alternatives Solutions Treatment (P.A.S.T), a network of New Jersey-based doctors who provide pro bono care to athletes in need, such as Lucas, Grimes and Christian Okoye.
"They saved my life!" Lucas recently wrote of P.A.S.T on Facebook.
An ESPN-commissioned study showed retired NFL players misuse painkillers at a rate of 4-to-1 compared to the general public.
Information from ESPN.com's Tim Graham and The Associated Press was used in this report.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Sources: Ryan expects to be fired by Jets
- Browns suspend WR Gordon for season finale
- Chiefs' Smith (spleen) out against Chargers
- Lynch fined $11K by NFL for obscene move