Bill Searcey should have been set for football greatness. He was a high school All American who was drafted by Bear Bryant. He played at the University of Alabama for four years, winning two National Championship titles for the team. But over the next three decades, things fell apart for the former Tide offensive lineman.
Looking back, Bill tells his story in matter-of-fact style, picking out some of the details that would make most Alabama fans physically ill—like how he pawned his two National Championship rings for $600 so he could go buy drugs.
Yea, that one hurts.
Bill started drinking when he was 12 years old but was still functioning enough to make a name for himself in the high school and college arena.
“(I) never was the college player I should have been or could have been because of my off-the-field activities,” Bill said. “I just spent too much time doing the wrong things.”
After his four years at Alabama, he went to the NFL where those off-the-field activities escalated. He was using steroids and cocaine in addition to his alcoholism, he told Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey in a recent interview.
When his football career was over, he went to work in a bar—a terrible environment for someone already struggling with addiction. At one point, he got into trouble with some people he owed money to and woke up with someone pointing a pistol at his mouth.
In 1989, three years after he stopped playing football, Bill went to rehab for the first time. In 1990, he went again. He got into real estate, landed a good job and had a wife and son who who loved him. On paper his life looked great, but it wasn’t long before he realized something.
“There was something missing,” Bill said in the interview. “There was still a void.”
Bill stayed sober for a while, but in 2004 he had a kidney stone and was prescribed painkillers. That woke the addiction he had suppressed for so long. He lost his job, his family and filed for bankruptcy all because the painkiller addiction had taken over. He sold anything and everything he could find to get more and more money for drugs.
By 2006, Bill was living in his car in Birmingham. That’s when his wife and son found him and convinced him to go to a new kind of facility.
While he didn’t have the will power to go to another rehab, he was willing to try out a new place, Canaan Land Ministries, founded by someone Bill describes as an ex-outlaw biker. It was true. The private treatment facility was run by a man who had been into the same things Bill was involved in, and he took a different approach to counseling.
In fact, the founder of Canaan Land Ministries told Bill to give the program one year. If it didn’t work, he would drive him back to the drug house and give him money to start using again. Thankfully, the ministry worked, and Bill learned that God loved him, no matter what he had done in the past.
These days, Bill works as a motivational speaker, discussing his life and testimony to different groups. On August 19, Huntsville will have the chance to hear Bill speak at the First Stop fundraising dinner.
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