SE: Staying in the Game, Leber Returns to K-State

When former K-State linebacker Ben Leber (1997-2001) retired after playing 10 seasons in the NFL, he knew he wanted to stay around the game.
He’d been playing football as long as he could remember. Although he would no longer be on the field, he still wanted to be involved. 
Leber took an interest in broadcasting, and, after attending the NFL Films Broadcast Boot Camp – a “hands-on program which offers current and former NFL players the opportunity to explore multiple on-air job functions in the television/media business,” according to – he decided to get involved in the wonderful world of media. 
“It’s easier to answer the questions,” said Leber, who currently works with FOX Sports as a color analyst, earlier this summer at the Big 12 Football Media Days in Dallas, Texas. “It’s a lot more work for me now to get prepped, to come up with the questions and actually become the media member. It’s a craft that I’m still trying to perfect and work on, but it’s fun. The bottom line is, I get to stay in football, and for someone who’s played the game for a long time, it’s been a good transition for me.”
This weekend will be an exceptionally exciting weekend on the job as Leber is set to return to his alma mater for the Wildcats’ matchup against Louisiana Tech.
“I always look forward to being back,” said Leber. “With the new Vanier Complex, everything is on the up and up. Kids are getting spoiled these days, but I think in this situation the change is good. The recruits and the players are going to love it. They’re going to compete now with the upper echelon of the Big 12 and nationally, and with that crowd and that game day experience, it’s going to be exciting.” 
During his time at K-State, Leber helped the Wildcats capture 50 wins, including three bowl victories – 1997 Fiesta Bowl, 1999 Holiday Bowl and 2001 Cotton Bowl – and obtain the program’s first No. 1 ranking after an 11-0 start in 1998.
A versatile player who could play both outside and middle linebacker, Leber made 216 tackles, 46 tackles for loss, and 13.5 sacks during his career at K-State. During his senior season, Leber was a team captain, an All-Big 12 First Team performer and earned a Third Team All-America selection by the Associated Press. 
“Going back to K-State brings back a lot of good memories, but a lot of tough memories too,” explained Leber. “(Coach Snyder) gets away with having great teams by hard work. We just worked. He really forces you to dig deep, and that forces you to figure out who you are as a player and as a person. Former players have a better appreciation for what we’ve gone through when we get older. 
“I tell the younger players that now, and it’s a message they’ve heard 100 times, but all my buddies and former players from K-State, we all say the same thing and believe the same thing,” he continued. “It was tough to be tested as a young man, but when you get older, you thank God you went through all that because I’m better for life now.” 
His time with K-State also helped him prepare for an exceptional NFL career. 
The average NFL player stays in the league for an average of 3.5 years… Leber played 10.
“I was way more (prepared for the NFL) than a lot of guys,” Leber said. “A lot of guys weren’t used to the work and they weren’t used to the time we put in. I think the sacrifices and the foundation that I built at K-State, for me, it was the whole reason why I survived. All I did was survive in the NFL and it’s because of what I learned from Snyder and his staff.”
Drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the third round, No. 71 overall, of the 2002 NFL Draft, Leber made an impact in the NFL from the start. During his rookie season, he played in all of the Chargers’ 16 games and started 14 of them. 
In his decade of playing professionally, Leber recorded 498 tackles, 24 sacks and five interceptions with the Chargers (2002-05), Minnesota Vikings (2006-10) and St. Louis Rams (2011).  
While his busy NFL schedule kept him from traveling to the Little Apple for K-State football game days in the past, this year marks the second consecutive season Leber is back for a game. Last year he called K-State’s 58-28 victory over UTEP and is excited to be back at it this weekend when the Cats take on the Bulldogs.
The game, which kicks off at 2 p.m., will be shown across the nation on FSN with Brendan Burke (play-by-play) and Christian Steckel (sideline) joining Leber on the call.
The game can also be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sideline) on the call, while the game will be on Sirius channel 118, XM channel 202. Live stats are available at the new, while Twitter updates (@kstatesports and @kstate_gameday) will all be part of the coverage.
For more information on the upcoming Wildcat football game day, please click here

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