Some very large piles of shit just hit the fan in the world of the NFL today. Eight former NFL players—Richard Dent, Jim McMahon, Jeremy Newberry, Roy Green, J.D. Hill, Keith Van Horne, Ron Stone, and Ron Pritchard—have filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL. The suit claims that the league supplied them with illegally obtained drugs and painkillers throughout their careers in an effort to keep them playing through injuries, and that they are now suffering from debilitating medical complications as a result of their league-approved drug abuse.
You can read the entire lawsuit below, but we've pulled some of the more startling claims here.
The suit lays out a nearly identical description for how each of the eight players in the suit became addicted to painkillers and other medications. Each player claims to have been injected with and fed cocktails of painkillers without any warning about side effects or possible dependence:
While playing in the NFL, Mr. Dent received hundreds, if not thousands, of injections from doctors and pills from trainers, including but not limited to NSAIDs and Percodan. No one from the NFL ever talked to him about the side effects of the medications he was being given or "cocktailing" (mixing medications). Over the course of his career, Mr. Dent became dependent on painkillers, a slow process that overtook him without him being cognizant of it happening. After his career ended, he was no longer able to obtain painkillers from the NFL and was forced to purchase over-the-counter painkillers to satisfy his need for medications. Over the course of that time, he has spent an extensive amount of money on such medications.
Named Plaintiff Jeremy Newberry received hundreds of Toradol injections over the course of his career and for many games, would receive as many as five or six injections of other medications during the course of a game. He also would receive Vicodin before, during and after games to numb pain and often during a game would simply ask a trainer for medications, which would be provided without record as to who was receiving what.
While playing in the NFL, Mr. McMahon received hundreds, if not thousands, of injections from doctors and pills from trainers, including but not limited to NSAIDs such as Toradol, Percocet, Novocain injections, amphetamines, sleeping pills and muscle relaxers. No one from the NFL ever talked to him about the side effects of the medications he was being given or cocktailing. Over the course of his career and 18 surgeries, Mr. McMahon became dependent on painkillers, a slow process that overtook him without him realizing it. At one point, he was taking as many as 100 Percocets per month, even in the off-seasons. After his playing career concluded, he was no longer able to obtain painkillers for free from the NFL and was forced to purchase over-the-counter painkillers to satisfy his need for medications. Over the course of that time, he has spent an extensive amount of money on such medications.
The suit claims that the NFL "fraudulently concealed" the dangerous side effects of the drugs from the players, and that the league's "intentional, reckless, and negligent omissions" are directly responsible for the plaintiffs' current poor states of health.
As for how that negligence played out:
And the named Plaintiffs experienced the same post-game ritual of trainers handing out medications, including pain killers and sleeping aids, to be washed down by beer. When teams were traveling by plane, the NFL trainers would have the medications in a briefcase and would walk down the aisle, handing out pills or placing them on players' seats in contravention of Federal law while the players were provided with beer at the back of the plane. Doctors were aboard these flights, knew the players were drinking alcohol and being provided various medications, yet said nothing to them about the risks of these medications, or of mixing these medications with alcohol.
For example, named Plaintiff Keith Van Horne was prescribed Percodan by a physician with no affiliation to the NFL after a foot or ankle injury. Days later, the Chicago Bears' Head Trainer Fred Caito called Van Horne into this office. Caito proceeded to lambast him for obtaining the Percodan because it led the Drug Enforcement Agency to issue a letter to the Bears inquiring why Van Horne was obtaining Schedule II medications.
When Van Horne told Caito that a physician had prescribed the drug, Caito responded that was not the problem. The problem was that the Bears ordered painkillers before the season started under players' names, including Van Horne's. Van Horne had thus put Caito in a bad spot by obtaining the Percodan because there were already DEA records that hundreds of painkillers had been ordered in Van Horne's name, even though Van Horne had no need for the medications the Bears had ordered at the time the order was placed.
And it wasn't just painkillers that the players were allegedly being given with reckless abandon. According to the suit, teams also kept them chock-full of downers to help them sleep and uppers to get them ready for games:
While named Plaintiff Keith Van Horne played for the Bears, the players were given Halcion and other medications, along with beer, to help sleep at night. Also, bowls of Supac (a high-dose mixture of caffeine and aspirin) sat out in the locker rooms. Many Bears players took Supac with their morning coffee as part of the day's ritual.
And finally, claims that the league concealed information about their own well-being from the players themselves:
Named Plaintiff Jim McMahon discovered for the first time in 2011 or 2012 that he had suffered a broken neck at some point in his career. He believes it happened during a 1993 playoff game when, after a hit, his legs went numb. Rather than sit out, he received medications and was pushed back on the field. No one from the NFL ever told him of this injury. In addition, he learned only a few years ago that he had broken an ankle while playing; at the time, he was told it was a sprain.
Mr. Green, who received hundreds of NSAIDs (which can cause kidney damage) from NFL doctors and trainers, had tests performed on him while he played in the NFL that showed he had high creatinine levels, indicative of a limitation on his kidney function. No one from the NFL ever told him of those findings. In November 2012, he had a kidney transplant.
Similarly, while any doctor who looked at named Plaintiff Jeremy Newberry's records should have seen the decreasing kidney function from his blood levels, Mr. Newberry was never told about that problem while with the League. Indeed, if not for one night after retiring that Newberry's blood pressure was measured at 250 over 160, at which point he was hospitalized for days, Newberry might have died from his kidney problems.
You can read the whole suit below: