Several former NFL players have filed a painkillers class-action suit on May 20 alleging they were given prescription pills illegally. The players are putting blame on the NFL for putting their health at risk in an effort to keep them playing on the field.
The 87-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claims the NFL “has intentionally, recklessly and negligently created and maintained a culture of drug misuse, substituting players’ health for profit.”
Richard Dent, Jim McMahon, Jeremy Newberry, Roy Green, Keith Van Horne, Ron Stone, JD Hill and Ron Pritchard are the eight named plaintiffs in the suit, and their lawyers say the entire group comprises more than 500 former players. Six of the eight named plaintiffs were also part of the group suing the league over head injuries.
“Pregame, maybe 15 other starters and I would receive a shot of Toradol,” Newberry said in a statement released by his attorneys. “During the game, I would often receive multiple injections of painkillers. After the game, I would take at least 2 Vicodin and occasionally additional pills. I would then be given beer by the team. Of course, we would then be given Ambien or some other sleep medication to sleep.” Newberry played for San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego from 1998 to 2008.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was attending league meetings in Atlanta when he was asked about the lawsuit.
“I was only made aware of it just briefly,” he said. “I do not believe any of our attorneys have had the opportunity to look at it. As you know, I have been in meetings all day.”
The lawsuit raises questions for both sides. Among them, what was the players’ responsibility in abusing painkillers and/or mixing them with alcohol? Does the blame rest entirely with the league?
Mel Owens, among the attorneys representing the players and a former standout linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams, said the “culture of the NFL” is to blame for any abuse of painkillers and not the players themselves.