ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -Recently signed New York Giants offensive tackle Shane Olivea said Monday that he was addicted to painkillers while playing for the San Diego Chargers last season.
The 26-year Olivea lost his starting job at right tackle in midseason and was eventually released by the Chargers in February, a move he said he asked the team to make.
``It's a second chance in my life and football and I'm just happy to have that opportunity,'' said Olivea, who was signed by the Super Bowl champions on July 10. ``A lot of guys aren't given that opportunity, so I feel very blessed and very fortunate to have that opportunity.''
Olivea said that he did not confront his problem until his family intervened in April, about a week before the NFL Draft. He was treated at the Betty Ford Center in California.
While under treatment, the NFL suspended him for four games for failing to take a mandatory urine test. Olivea said he was never informed he had to take the test. He appealed the suspension and it was rescinded.
A rising star who only two years ago signed a six-year, $20 million contract, Olivea indicated he used prescription pain medication for relief from a number of nagging injuries. He thought he did a good job of hiding his addiction, but he admitted his family noticed changes in him.
``I mean, the people close around me knew. I mean, I wasn't the same person,'' Olivea said. ``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.''
Olivea started 57 of 60 games in his four seasons with the Chargers. He is trying to make a team which is returning all five starters from the Super Bowl.
In the opening days of training camp at the University at Albany, Olivea has been playing with the third-string unit.
``I'm just starting over fresh,'' Olivea said. ``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.''
A Long Island native who played at Ohio State, Olivea said he worked out three times a day to get into shape.
Coach Tom Coughlin said that Olivea provides experience for a line that didn't have a lot of depth at tackle behind starters David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie.
``We are just going to have to see how he does now,'' Coughlin said. ``You know, it's a whole new system. He has been under another system and he has got a lot of things he has to learn. He has to learn them fast, so hopefully he will be able to do that.''

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