Olivea openly discussed his past problems and his hopes for a better future at UAlbany. Here follows the transcript of what he had to say.
Does this experience have any similarities to being a rookie?
I'm just starting over fresh. It's a new system, new terminology, new coaching staff, so they're getting accustomed to me every day and I'm getting accustomed to them, so in that sense, yes.
Does this feel like, you know, a second chance?
Yeah, definitely. It's a second chance in my life and football and I'm just happy to have that opportunity. A lot of guys aren't given that opportunity, so I feel very blessed and very fortunate to have that opportunity.
Were you worried that you weren't going to get that chance and they weren't going to hear you appeal?
No, I really didn't think about it. I really just let the people that I had in place deal with that and I really just tried to20focus on worrying about myself. You know, that's all I really could do.
How is that going? You know, dealing with your own issues and things like that? Are you feeling better?
Oh, I feel awesome. You know, sometimes you have to get knocked down to get back up and that was definitely the case with me. Like I said, I'm just very fortunate to be here living and breathing and able to put on a uniform again. Whatever happens happens down the road, but the only thing I can control is today.
I'm not sure how much you want to talk about it, but..
Well, I can't hide it from this media.
How far down were you? Can you tell us a little bit about what happened?
I got addicted to a pain medication, and you know, got really addicted and by the grace of God I didn't hurt my family and got myself checked into the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, California and it was the best thing that's ever hap pened to me. I have a new outlook on life, a new appreciation on life and every day is a present and a blessing.
When people get hurt and get addicted to pain medication, it kind of comes out of nowhere. You take pain medication because you're a football player …did you even realize it was happening? Did someone have to say hey…I don't know if you know this, but you have an issue?
I mean, the people close around me knew. I mean, I wasn't the same person. You can hide a lot of things, but your real friends and real family, they know the real you. They saw a major change and thank God they did, and by the grace of God I was able to get my life turned around.
A drastic change in your demeanor?
Just everything. Life.
When you say you weren't the same person, what do you think were the differences they saw?
I wasn't me. Like I said, you can hide from a lot of people, but your loved ones and your family members, they know you and you can't hide from them. You know, they know when you0re down, when you're up and everything in between. I'm just very fortunate that the Giants gave me a chance to go out and prove to myself and the organization that I won't do anything to embarrass them. I'm ready to just contribute in any way.
It said when you missed the mandatory test, you were in treatment, and that's why you missed the test?
Tom said he was impressed by the shape you came in. What have you been doing to keep yourself in shape and ready to go to camp?
Just training. Sometimes twice, sometimes three times a day. As much as possible. I had another trainer up there who really helped me out and was really helpful with my diet and nutrition and my every day pushing. It was really a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual change all around and it was for the better.
Does it feel like a last chance? Are you treating it that way?
You know, I don't know. I know this is not a forgiving business. The NFL, Not For Long. It's hard to say right now, but the game of life is20a lot bigger on the grander scale. Like I said, I'm just happy to be here and happy for the opportunity the Giants gave me and grateful. I just want to go out there and prove to them every day that they made the right decision.
Because this is your home, does that add another layer of intensity to it all?
Not really, because my real friends knew what was up. They were actually really, really supportive. Like I said, for the people who don't know, it's a nice little story, but for me, you know, this is the story of life. I guess I have a whole different outlook on life now and my friends are really, really supportive and the ones that aren't supportive I really don't need them in my life anyways. Everybody has been really receptive.
Not knowing the whole situation, you started a lot of games with the Chargers and then suddenly you're not starting. Then they cut you loose. It seems like they were quick to give up on you. Was that the case from your perspective or were they more supportive than it appears?
I don't think they knew the depth of it, or what was really going on. I did a really good job of hiding it if you will, but also I ask ed for my release. I knew that I should have, I was going through a lot and I had to deal with it and I was unable to deal with it and give the attention that was needed and the daily attention that is needed.
You could tell the effects on the field?
Oh yeah. I mean, I got benched. I've never sat in my whole life. You know, like I said, thank God, by the grace of God, I have a real loving family and they really helped me out and got my life going again.
Is it at all humbling to be running with the third unit?
You know what, I'm just happy to put on pads and uniforms again. The fourth unit, first unit, sixth unit, to me, all that stuff will take care of itself. I mean, I've proven what I can do in this league and like I said, I'm just happy to put on a uniform . I know I'm starting from scratch and ground zero and I'm not going to be handed anything by any means and like I said, I'm just grateful and thankful to put on a uniform again.
It's a pretty close knit offensive line. All five starters are back, they're pretty close, the backups are back. Is it hard to break into that?
Oh, of course. I mean, this team just won a Super Bowl. Like I said, I'm not really worried about where I am on the chart. The only thing I can do is control what I do. I'm trying to learn a new system, new terminology, learn a new coaching staff, new players here and get accustomed to these guys and get in where I fit in, so to speak. All that stuff will take care of itself. I mean, it's so early. This is not even a full week of training camp, so…
What about off the field though? Offensive linemen are typically a pretty tight group. Is it hard personality-wise, the things off the field, to get involved?
Not at all. I mean, we've gone out and I fit in really well. I've never had an issue with anybody and the guys have been really receptive and a lot more than anyone thought they would be.
You had said earlier, I asked you how much you wanted to talk about it and you said you can't hide from this group. I guess you knew at some point you would have to talk about it. Were you dreading that, or were you looking forward to telling your story a little bit?
The only reason I was hesitant was because I didn't want to be the focus and take away from what this team did and accomplished. I didn't want to make my story bigger than anybody. I'm no bigger and no more important than anybody and I think that's one thing Coach Coughlin stresses. Everybody is the same, you're treated the same and you're measured on what you do daily. So, I knew I couldn't hide from it, especially not in this media market.
When the reports come out, all you hear are drug related suspension and you don't know the details and you don't know what it was. It carries kind of a stigma. This is sort of the first time you've had a chance to explain what happened.
Yeah, I mean, basically, the NFL tried issuing me a league mandated drug test and I had admitted myself into rehab and they knew about it. The problem is, the NFL Drug Policy and the NFL are two different entities, so they just sent a form in saying I missed a test and never gave me my due process or notified me that I had a test. But the NFL knew I was in rehab, and self admitted, so subsequently, it was turned over and rightfully so. Like I said, that was the past and going there was the best thing that ever happened to me20and that's all I can really say. I'm just grateful for another opportunity today.
How do you handle the future now? I mean, you are in a painful job. I imagine that pain medication has got to be some part of you daily, weekly or monthly regimen, but you know…
Well, I think there are a lot more avenues I know now and different kinds of treatments as opposed to just taking a pill. So I'm a lot more knowledgeable and aware of more avenues I can explore.
Was it just one pain medication?
It was a pain medication. It wasn't street drugs, I mean, I don't do drugs. I know that was reported and that was a misreport and like I said, this was the first time I've really been able to tell my story.
And there was something I read out of San Diego that you partied yourself out of football.
If I sat here and worried about what every reporter who doesn't know anything about football, or some guys do, I mean some people are just going to have those stories and that's okay. If I'm f ortunate enough to make this team, and help them out in any way I can, I think someone would think a second before they wrote something like that again or before they even spoke to the source.
Was there a defining moment for you? A moment when there was just a click in your head and you said I've got to do something or I'll be dead?
Seeing my family in my living room. Seeing how hurt they were and the pain I had caused them was pretty humbling and gut wrenching. The last thing I want to do is hurt the people around me. Like I said, it was a hard decision and a very difficult thing to do. People don't look at alcoholism as a disease and alcoholism is a disease just like cancer. I wish people would really learn about it. There are a lot of classes you could take, but people just think it's will power and you can white knuckle it and it's really not. I'd love for people to just sit in an hour long biological or chemistry lecture that I had the fortune of sitting in on. You learn about alcoholism and addiction being a disease and it's uncontrollable. It's in your biological DNA and my children will be predisposed to it. It's something I think about and worry about, but the only thing I can do is today and be a better person today and a clean and sober person today.
It was almost like an intervention then?
That's what I had, yeah.
So how do you go out and socialize with a group of offensive linemen? You want to become part of the group but you also…
I tell them I have a disease.
And you go?
I go, yeah. I mean I have to be the designated driver. So you know, it is what it is. I can't hide. I'm not gonna be a hermit. It is what it is. Like I said, I said I'll be the designated driver, I'll be the one holding the keys. It really doesn't bother me. Alcohol really wasn't my thing, so it's really not a big deal.
Alcohol wasn't a problem, but you're staying away from it?
It's something, yeah, I'm just trying to not put anything into my system.
Did you know your family knew before you walked in and saw them sitting in your living room?
Yeah, they knew I wasn't me.
But, did you know that they knew?
No, I mean, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of hiding it.
When was that?
It was the week before the draft.
Was it back here, or in San Diego?
No, it was back in California, in San Diego.
Was your whole family out there or are they mostly New York based?
No, they're based mainly down in Florida.
And they flew out?
Yup, just like you see on A&E.
Wow, that must have been a shock.
Tell me about it.
How many people?
My family…Alright, thanks guys.
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