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Cleveland Browns rookie admits to substance abuse, says Chris Herren’s story ‘reminds me of myself’

Frank Schwab
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(USA Today Sports Images)

If Armonty Bryant's story ends well, the NFL rookie symposium is a success.

Bryant, a rookie defensive end with the Cleveland Browns, admitted to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he has a substance-abuse problem. He was arrested on a DUI charge less than a week after the Browns selected him in the seventh round. He was arrested at East Central (Okla.) University last year for selling $20 of marijuana to undercover police.

We hear stories like this often and sometimes chalk them up to immaturity or bad decisions. In Bryant's case, there was a much more serious problem.

When former basketball player Chris Herren, whose struggles with practically every type of drug and how it cost him a NBA career was the subject of a powerful ESPN documentary, spoke at the NFL rookie symposium this week, Bryant heard the message clearly.

"(Herren's) message was real powerful," Bryant told the Plain Dealer. "He was talking about his substance abuse, and he was just really strung out on drugs, real bad. He was able to get help over and over and still make the same mistakes.

"I feel like it kind of reminds me of myself, just getting help and then making the same mistakes. Hearing about the whole 17 years of just being strung out on drugs, who knows? ... It could happen to anyone. I really took his message and it really stuck with me that you’re going to have to get over this and just know that later on, whatever the future may hold, this could better you.''

Bryant said since the DUI arrest he has sworn off drugs and alcohol, the Plain Dealer said. In the story, he said he didn't have an everyday temptation for drugs or alcohol but liked to let loose on the weekends. Instead of going out now, he and fellow rookie Barkevious Mingo have stayed in their hotel room. They'll play video games, maybe go to a movie or dinner, but nothing that will get Bryant sidetracked.

Bryant is far from guaranteed anything as a seventh-round pick, but figuring out his problem and taking steps to correct it is a good start. It isn't too late for him to put his problems in the past and have a successful career.

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