Former NFLers Claim League 'Dealt' Drugs to Mask Pain

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
In the latest lawsuit against the NFL, eight retired players say they were illegally "dealt" drugs by team doctors and trainers to play through dangerous injuries.

The 85-page class action suit, filed today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claims that the players were fed a "constant diet of pills to deal with the pain" instead of being offered proper treatments and time to heal.

"The NFL has illegally and unethically substituted pain medications for proper health care to keep the NFL's tsunami of dollars flowing," according to the lawsuit. "With its priority on profit, the NFL places a premium on return to play to the detriment of a player's health. The time has come for that to stop."

The suit describes the "post-game ritual" of trainers handing out painkillers and sleeping aids "to be washed down by beer." Lawyers for the league "have not had an opportunity to review" the lawsuit, ESPN reported.

The players are seeking financial compensation for chronic injuries, financial losses, pain, suffering and mental anguish, according to the suit.

Here are their stories.

Richard Dent

Two-time Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer Richard Dent claims that he received "hundreds, if not thousands, of injections from doctors and pills from trainers" over the course of his 14-year career, according to the suit.

After breaking a bone in his foot, Dent said he was told by team doctors and trainers that he could skip surgery and keep playing with painkillers.

"Trusting that the doctors and trainers had his best interests at heart, he chose to continue playing and for the following eight weeks, he received repeated injections of painkillers as well as pills to keep playing. Today, Mr. Dent has permanent nerve damage in that foot," the suit reads.

The suit also alleges that Dent became dependent on painkillers and "has spent an extensive amount of money on such medications" since retiring from the league.

Jeremy Newberry

Two-time Pro Bowler Jeremy Newberry claims he was prescribed NSAIDs, Vicodin, Toradol, Ambien, Indocin, Celebrex and Prednisone during his 120-game tenure in the NFL.

"No one from the NFL ever talked to him about the side effects of the medications he was being provided or cocktailing," the suit reads. "He currently has stage 3 renal failure and suffers from high blood pressure and violent headaches for which he cannot take any medications that might further deteriorate his already-weakened kidneys."

Roy Green

Two-time Pro Bowler Roy Green claims to have received NSAIDs, Indocin, Naprosyn, Percocet, Vicodin, Butisol and "trauma IVs."

Green has had three heart attacks since his retirement in 1992, according to the suit. And in November 2012, he underwent a kidney transplant.

J.D. Hill

Retired wide receiver J.D. Hill claims the he left the NFL addicted to painkillers.

"I was provided uppers, downers, painkillers, you name it while in the NFL," he said in a statement. "I became addicted and turned to the streets after my career and was homeless. Never took a drug in my life, and I became a junkie in the NFL."

Hill was in and out of 15 drug treatment centers for 20 years after his retirement, according to the suit. He is now a pastor and substance abuse counselor.

Keith Van Horne

Super Bowl champ Keith Van Horne claims to have received hundreds of injections and pills during his 186-game NFL career.

"Since retiring, he has had two cardiac ablations and has suffered from, and continues to suffer from, atrial fibrillation, which began in 2004, and premature ventricular contractions. He has also suffered from tachycardia," the suit reads.

Ron Stone

Two-time Super Bowl champion Ron Stone claims to have received hundreds of injections and thousands of pills during his 12-year NFL career, including Ambien, Percocet and Cortisone.

"Since retiring from the NFL, he has consistently suffered from severe pain in his elbow and knee stemming from injuries received while playing that were masked with medications rather than treated early with surgery or rest," the suit reads.

Ron Pritchard

Ron Pritchard, who played linebacker for the Houston Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals in the late 60s and early 70s, claims to have received "hundreds, if not thousands" of pills from trainers including amphetamines, Valium and Quaaludes.

"Since retiring he has six knee surgeries and replacements for both knees as well as shoulder, elbow, hand and foot surgery," the suit reads.

Jim McMahon

Two-time Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon claims to become dependent on painkillers during his 14-year NFL career, at one time taking as many as 100 Percocet pills a month, according to the suit. He now claims to have arthritic pain in his hands and "extreme pain" in his shoulder.

"The foregoing pain and limitations stem from injuries Mr. McMahon suffered while playing in the NFL that were never allowed to properly heal and were aggravated by continued play," the suit reads.

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