New Wave of Players Sue the NFL
Will we ever get to the bottom of the illegal and rampant drug use by NFL players during the past four decades? The answer seems to be “no” because more lawsuits and more allegations continue almost on a monthly basis. There’s a new lawsuit brought on by more than 500 former NFL players. This is on top of the $765 million dollar settlement between the league and another group of players who were suing the NFL for many of the same allegations. The most recent lawsuit lists eight former players who represent the group. Among the eight are three former Chicago Bear players from the 1985 Super Bowl championship team. The three Bears players are defensive end Richard Dent, offensive tackle Keith Van Horne and quarterback Jim McMahon. McMahon claims that he suffered a broken neck and broken ankle during his career but rather than being told about it he was given painkillers to mask the pain and keep him on the field. McMahon claims that during his playing days he would take up to 100 Percocet painkillers a month, even in the off-season.
Van Horne says he played an entire season with a broken leg and wasn’t told about it until five years later. The lawsuit claims that team doctors and trainers would administer the pills illegally because they didn’t have a prescription or keep records of how the drugs were administered. It seems almost unfathomable that this stuff happened in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. It seems like something that the “old” NFL would do in the 50’s and 60’s and even the 70’s before players started to wise up and say something.
This lawsuit covers teams and players that aren’t that far removed from playing in the league, which somehow makes it seem worse, almost like despite all the accusations and lawsuits the league still values profits and wins over the players well being. To hear some players tell it, being in the NFL may have been as harmful as a life surviving in the streets. “I was provided uppers, downers, painkillers, you name it while in the NFL,” said plaintiff J.D. Hill, who played for seven years in the 1970s for the Bills and Lions. “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.”
Jeremy Newberry played for the 49ers from 1998-2006 and said in the lawsuit that players would line up in the locker room before kickoff and take anti-inflammatory injections in their butts. Newberry says one season he played in every game but never practiced because of pain from his injuries. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this type of talk but it is the first time current-day players have made claims similar to their counterparts from earlier decades. And if this was happening in the 90’s and 2000’s, are we naive in thinking it isn’t happening today?
Let’s be honest, the stakes are even higher today. If owners and the league cared about the almighty dollar back when players were making $500,000 a year, how much more do they want to keep their players on the field when signing them to $50-$70 million dollar deals? It almost makes you think that the owners and league are fighting to stay one step ahead – delay settling with the players from the 60’s and 70’s as long as possible and by the time you pay them off, you’ve made another $30 billion and can afford to negotiate with the next generation who have the same issues.
If the current accusations are true, Jerry Jones and his fellow owners should be ashamed of themselves, but that would assume they had any shame to begin with.