Patrick Venzke (born February 8, 1984) is a former American football offensive tackle. He played college football at the University of Notre Dame. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft. As a child, Venzke was always active, playing a variety of sports. He was a three-sport athlete in high school, participating in football, baseball, and tennis for nine years. Venzke was a highly recruited baseball player out of high school and accepted a scholarship from the University of Notre Dame. Venzke was a three-year starter for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, playing both offensive tackle and defensive end. He was named to the Freshman All-American
In a Sports Illustrated article published earlier this year, Patrick Venzke was interviewed about his experience with overcoming alcohol addiction. In the article, Patrick, a former offensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Oilers, revealed the details of his alcohol addiction, which he developed during his NFL career, and how he was able to overcome it. He also gave some helpful tips on how others can overcome addiction.
Patrick Wentzke understands what it means to break barriers. He eventually made history by becoming the first German to play in the NFL. Now, however, the former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive guard is trying to break another barrier. In an exclusive interview with Sportscasting, Wentzke talked about all aspects of his journey to overcome alcoholism. And while he doesn’t have all the answers yet, the father of three has big plans to change the stigma of substance abuse, a problem often ignored in the world of professional sports.
Patrick Wentzke started having problems with alcohol more than a decade ago
Former NFL player Patrick Wentzke poses in his Jacksonville Jaguars uniform. | Photo courtesy of Sportscasting Patrick Wenzke Wentzke was born and raised in Germany. He discovered the NFL when he played right guard for the University of Idaho Vandals from 1997 to 2001. Although he was not included in the draft, he signed with the Jaguars as a free agent and was part of the final 53-man roster. During his four-year NFL career, Wentzke also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts. Not only does he play successful football, but he is also successful in the real estate business. But everything changed for Wenzke in 2008, when the real estate market collapsed. I literally went from a multimillionaire with a Rolls-Royce to a food stamp recipient and selling my watch collection, he said. He moved with his family to Idaho, but unable to make a decent living there, Wentzke returned to Florida. During that time, he began to have problems with an alcohol addiction. What began as occasional drinking turned into daily drinking to cope with stress and distance from family. The company also faced financial difficulties to the extent that it was forced to file for bankruptcy. I was really looking to alcohol for comfort, Wentzke says.
The former NFL offensive lineman received tremendous support from Derek Price and the staff at Desert HopeTreatment Center.
Drinking two to three bottles of wine a day has become commonplace for Wenzke. Although he sought help by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for three years, he still had relapses on the road to alcoholism. Over time, her addiction to alcohol also affected her body. In December 2020, the 6-foot-6 retired lineman weighed 390 pounds and had a blood pressure of 188/122. I had a walking heart attack, Wentzke said. Shortly thereafter, his wife filed for divorce. Although he is doing well in rehab in Jacksonville, he is worried about his sobriety and decides to go to Desert Hope Treatment Center, a rehab facility in Las Vegas run by former NFL tight end Derek Price. This decision changed Wenzke’s life. He saw me as a German soldier who needed a mission, he said. And selling a house for $20,000 is not. By focusing on all aspects of the recovery program, Wentzke has achieved incredible results. Not only did he lose 100 pounds, but he gained valuable insight into what can lead to addictive behavior. One thing I’ve learned: An injury is an injury, Wentzke said. We’re all human. We’ve all been through traumas. We all use some sort of coping mechanism. We’re all different, but we’re all the same.
Wentzke’s story is an excellent example of why it is important to change the stigma around alcoholism
Hard work and a positive attitude continue to pay off for Wenzke. He recently completed a mental health first aid course offered by the NFL Players Association and the Brandon Marshall Foundation. This is an excellent learning experience in the field of mental health assessment and treatment, he said. For Wenzke, Price and other current and former professional athletes, the biggest challenge is changing the stigma attached to addiction. The first step is to encourage people to feel comfortable asking for help and telling the truth. How does Wenzke plan to solve this problem? He wants to start a podcast called Big Man in the Van, which will allow him to travel across the United States to tell his story and inspire others. In the age of technology, this seems like a smart way to raise awareness about addiction and show what kind of lives people across the country are living. Ultimately, Wenzke wants people to be optimistic about the future, regardless of the challenges they face. You’re not alone. It’s always darker before sunrise, he said. You will see the light tomorrow if you survive the night. How to get help In the United States, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-800-662-4357. U.S. drug treatment centers offer help to people struggling with addiction. You can call the hotline at 866-244-1070. COMPARED TO: The shocking death of Vincent Jackson has revealed a potentially deadly problem that professional athletes often hide.