You might know Ray Lucas as a former NFL quarterback. You might also know him as the New York Jets color analyst. But you probably don’t know him as a man who battled addiction and almost committed suicide.
Lucas tells of these experiences in a new book, Under Pressure: How Playing Football Almost Cost Me Everything and Why I’d Do It All Again.”
“When you get to the NFL, you don’t know words like surrender,” Lucas said on The MoJo Show. “You don’t know words like can’t and won’t. Are you hurt or are you injured? I’m always hurt. I’m never injured. And the strength that got me to the top of the mountain in the NFL became my weakness in addiction where I was suffering in silence. Before you know it, 120 pills turns into 400 pills, 400 pills turns into 800 pills, and then 800 pills turns into 1,400 pills a month. Some days I was taking anywhere from 40 to 80 a day on the bad days.”
Lucas thought getting help would be a sign of weakness. That’s the mindset that the game instilled in him.
“I was suffering in silence for so long and I got in such a deep hole of depression and anger and anxiety and addiction that it was almost impossible for me to see the light,” Lucas said. “So in my book, I talk about the day I decided I was going to kill myself and drove to the George Washington Bridge and picked out a spot, actually. I had a moment of clarity. Even though I was taking all those pills, everything kind of got calm because now I had a plan and I was going to put my plan to work. But thank God upstairs that he was watching because he sent (people to rescue me). The book tells you about how I made it out, how I got three neck surgeries, a four-inch steel plate with eight screws, and two surgeries after that.”
Lucas then went to rehab.
“Not ashamed of it,” he said. “It had to be done. When you’re talking 1,400 pills (a month), you can’t just turn it off. (The book) tells you a story about trump and hope because I came out on the other side.”
Lucas also wrote a great deal about his best friend – his wife.
“You know, Brian, we played with a lot of tough dudes,” Lucas said. “But for her to go through what she went through with me and not leave, she’s the toughest person I have ever met. You know 99 percent of the guys that go through what I go through lose their wives, lose their kids. All my wife kept telling me – which I got pretty sick and tired of – was she would yell, ‘In sickness and in health’ and walk away from me. So there were times when I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I want to just strangle this woman.’ But in the end, she’s still my best friend, she’s still my wife and I still have my baby. So it’s all good.”
The book, which features a foreword by Bill Parcells, was published by Triumph Books and is available for purchase at Amazon and other major outlets.