Denver Matt Lepsis was living the good life last season, making millions in the NFL and finally fitting in when he locked himself in a closet and screamed for help: Please, God, help me kick this drug habit.
The Denver Broncos left tackle, who called it quits after last season and enrolled in seminary, admitted he was high on drugs for the first six games of his final season.
“There are times my mind was completely in a different place than concentrating on the next play,” Lepsis told The Associated Press. “I was in another world.”
There, in that closet in his house, struggling to kick a habit that intensified after knee surgery following the 2006 season, Lepsis begged for help.
He believes he was heard — and rescued.
The drug habit now gone, Lepsis — who declined to identify which recreational drugs he abused — is taking classes at Dallas Theological Seminary, learning Greek and taking an intro to theology course.
The offensive lineman had nearly $9 million left on his contract over two years. But he walked away, retiring after last season.
“People hear this story and think, ’He was at rock bottom and had nowhere to go and was trying to find answers to all these problems. So naturally he looked to God,”’ Lepsis said. “That’s not what happened. I can’t stress this enough: I was loving life.”
The drugs transformed Lepsis from a “wallflower” into a “social butterfly,” he said. After struggling with social anxiety issues, he was suddenly more outgoing and personable.
The week before the Broncos were scheduled to play Jacksonville in September 2007, Lepsis was outside playing with his children when his phone rang.
No one there, just music.
Not just music, though, but the “Dave Matthews Band,” his favorite group.
It was a song he knew well — “41” — and Matthews was singing the lyrics, “The difficulty is coming.”
His initial reaction was he was going to perish in a plane crash.
At a birthday party, he explained it to a friend, who reassured him.
“She said, ’There’s nothing for you to worry about. God’s in control,”’ Lepsis recounted. “If it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.”
On a plane ride to Indianapolis the following week, Lepsis asked kicker Jason Elam if he could sit next to him. Elam, a devout Christian who now plays for Atlanta, was willing to listen.
Lepsis went to chapel before the Colts game, where the topic of the sermon was fear.
“I was blown away,” he said. “I’m hanging on every word.”
After returning, he sought out Elam again. This time, Lepsis told the entire story, how he was dealing with a drug addiction.
“I was like, ’Can I do this thing with my addiction? Can I become a Christian and a believer and still continue to do this?”’ Lepsis explained. “Jason said, ’No, you can’t.”’
“I get what I got through the drugs, but I get it through sharing my testimony for what God has done in my life,” Lepsis said.