A former NFL star who fell into a pattern of drug and alcohol abuse before his recovery will share his story on Tuesday at A Chance to Change's Celebration of Recovery.
Edmond resident Jim Riley played football for the Miami Dolphins from 1967 to 1973 after a playing for coach Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma. He was a member of the 1972 team that was the first in NFL history to go undefeated for an entire season. The Dolphins won the Super Bowl after that season and the next.
But instead of Riley's outstanding football career, Tuesday's event will celebrate his victory over his addictions, which began while he played for the Dolphins and ended when his family and friends staged an intervention July 16, 1985. After that, he spent six weeks in rehab in Arizona.
“I didn't grow up until I was 40,” said Riley, 66, in a phone interview. “That's when I went into treatment. ... There's a lot more to life than I thought there was.”
Today, Riley and his wife, Robin, help run a separate addiction recovery outreach ministry that bears his name. They founded Jim Riley Outreach Inc. in 1986 to help families move into a life of recovery from addiction, with a focus on healing and hope. It offers support groups, sober living/mentoring homes, personal development classes and Bible studies. Riley also speaks to various groups on awareness and prevention. Riley primarily works with men; his wife, the women.
Over the years of helping addicts, Riley said he has learned that addictive behaviors in men usually develop when they try to mask fear, guilt, shame and pain. They also use anger as a tool, which he acknowledges was a problem for him.
“I was paid to be an angry person.