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Last Year Drug Rehab – This Year a Super Bowl: Anthony Hargrove Celebrates a Year of Sobriety

posted 11:13 PM EST, Thu February 04, 2010

Last year, without a team to play for, Hargrove wasn’t worried about football - he was trying to take his life back, spending 10 months in drug rehab and treatment for cocaine, alcohol and marijuana abuse.

What a difference a year makes.

Suspended for the full 2008 season after multiple substance abuse infractions Saints star DT Anthony Hargrove wound up a Miami in drug rehab – a place he would stay for 10 months of grueling and ultimately life changing treatment.

No team seemed interested in the very troubled 25 year old, and he says that football was far from his mind when making the decision to enter into drug treatment. Describing his thought process prior to deciding on rehab, he says, "Football wasn't in the picture. The realization was 'What are you going to do when you get sober and clean? What skills do you have?...My main motivation was to try to better my life and get myself in position where I could take care of my children."

Hargrove spent the first years of his life in Brooklyn. A tenement fire left his family homeless at the age of 5 and his mom died from AIDS by the time he was 9. Without family in NY, Hargrove spent his teen years with relatives in Florida, where he excelled as at quarterback in high school.

Hargrove earned a scholarship to Georgia Tech and stellar play soon earned him NFL attention. Unfortunately, his classroom performance was less impressive and he ultimately failed out of school.

After a time spent in menial jobs, Hargrove worked himself back into NFL shape and earned himself a third round draft selection by from the Rams in 2004. By 2006 he was using drugs heavily, even once attempting suicide by overdose. He was traded to Buffalo where he continued to use drugs, fail drug tests and run afoul of the law – leading ultimately to his full season suspension in 2008.

New Beginnings

Hargrove spent nearly a year at the Transitions treatment center in Miami, recovering from years of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and bad decisions. Upon his release from treatment, Hargrove sent a heartfelt 12 minute video monologue to all 32 franchises, describing honestly what he’d been, what he’d done to get better and what he planned on doing to stay healthy, clean and sober.

Only the Saints responded, and after meeting with the determined Hargrove, Saint’s coach Sean Payton signed him and hasn’t regretted it since. Payton says he’s had no regrets, saying, "Most of the guys that come back, they either get in trouble again or they come back and they're not the same. But it kind of worked out different for him. He's a better player than he was before. He's helped us out big time…It gives you confidence in the human spirit"

Now, in an amazing redemption story, he’s back in Miami just one year later to play in this week’s Super Bowl Hargrove is grateful to be where he is and determined to stay clean and sober for good.

Asked whether he worries about slipping up while immersed in the pre Super Bowl party atmosphere he retorts, "Going out and partying is not in my plan. I don't go. It's simple as that. It's about understanding boundaries and limits. Before I even came down here I had a plan of action for what I was going to do each day.

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  • Hargrove: Ready to play in Miami Super Bowl a Year after leaving Miami drug rehab.
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