More than 1,800 former players are suing all 32 NFL teams for violating federal prescription drug laws, according to sealed court documents obtained by the Washington Post.
Documents say that teams disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances. They also readily gave players painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs each season, according to the Washington Post.
Drugs permeate the NFL game. Take Judicial Notice as a fact. Inherent in this big time business. Employer liability, like asbestos. Good AM!
— Ralph Cindrich (@RalphCindrich) March 11, 2017
This comes at a time when the NFL is still dealing with previous complaints about players health. The NFL has been accused of hiding and covering up evidence that links the repeated head trauma sustained in football with CTE. Former NFL players who have taken their own lives have been diagnosed postmortem with the disease.
This lawsuit is against the teams, not the NFL itself.
Deny Deny Deny
“The NFL clubs and their medical staff are all in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to the Washing Post.
According to the Washington Post, the filing draws parallel between how players use performance-enhancing drugs and how team medical staffs provide painkillers: if they do not do it, they would be at a disadvantage.
Pop culture idea of football and painkillers have a long history. Anyone who could recall playing the game “NFL Blitz: The League” should remember the feature where you could heal an injured player with “juice” given from a syringe. Fans of the movie “Any Given Sunday” should recall how Laurence Taylor’s character received shots from the teams doctor to get him back out on the field.
The NFL clubs and their medical staffs continue to put the health and safety of our players first, providing all NFL players with the highest quality medical care. Any claim or suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong.” – Brian McCarthy
Reality is not far off. Hall-Of-Fame quarterback Brett Favre, who was known as an iron man and has the record for most consecutive games played, was famously addicted to painkillers for years.
Calvin Johnson, who retired from the Detroit Lions before the start of the 2016 season, said in an interview with ESPN’s “E:60” that medical staffs handed out powerful and addictive opioids “like candy.”
“If you were hurting, then you could get them. It was nothing. I mean, if you needed Vicodin, call out, ‘My ankle hurt,’ you know. ‘I need, I need it. I can’t, I can’t play without it,’ or something like that. It was simple. That’s how easy it was to get them. So if you were dependent on them, they were readily available.” – Calvin Johnson
It Will Only Get Worse for the NFL
Under the aura of the CTE scandal NFL players, many of whom are in the prime of their playing careers, are retiring early to avoid long term damage. It won’t be long before all players see this as a justifiable reason to have a shorter career.
Worse still, amid dipping ratings and an already impressive list of recent scandals, this could be yet another reason for people to not watch.
Most cases against the NFL are settled between its representatives and the representatives of the player’s union. But because this is against all 32 teams, it could become a long and bitter hearing of former players’ words against the words of their former employers.
Like most NFL scandals, this will only get worse as time goes on.