Entertainment & Sports Law

Former NFL players sue over alleged 'culture of drug misuse' that masked pain of injuries

Eight retired pro football players are seeking compensation for chronic injuries in a suit that accuses the National Football League of supplying them with painkillers.

The would-be class-action suit (PDF), filed on Tuesday in San Francisco federal court, says team doctors and trainers administered the drugs without prescriptions. “In contravention of federal criminal laws,” the suit says, “the NFL has intentionally, recklessly and negligently created and maintained a culture of drug misuse, substituting players’ health for profit.” The Associated Press, Reuters and the Chicago Tribune have stories.

Among the name plaintiffs are former Bears players Jim McMahon, Richard Dent and Keith Van Horn, who played on the team that won Super Bowl XX. Van Horne alleges he played an entire season with a broken leg without being aware of the full extent of the injury. McMahon, who played for six teams, says he learned in the last few years that he suffered a broken neck and ankle sometime in his career. McMahon says he became addicted to painkillers used to mask the pain, at one point taking more than 100 Percocet pills each month.

The suit seeks damages and an injunction creating a testing and monitoring program.

An NFL spokesman said the league was reviewing the suit. Last year the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to settle player suits claiming repeated concussions had caused dementia.

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