NFL Sued by Former Players Claiming the League Administered Painkillers Illegally

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The NFL is facing another health-related lawsuit, this time from more than 400 former players claiming the league illegally provided and administered drugs to keep them on the field despite injuries.

According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit posits "that the league, thirsty for profits, illegally supplied [players] with risky narcotics and other painkillers that numbed their injuries for games and led to medical complications down the road." 

The drugs were given to players without prescription and without acknowledgment of side effects, the ex-players say, and the league withheld information on the nature and severity of their injuries in order to prevent players from missing games. As a result, the plaintiffs claim they became addicted to these drugs and faced medical complications after their football careers ended.

The lawsuit's revelation isn't exactly new. An extensive report from The Washington Post last year highlighted the league's "culture of prescription drug use and misuse that stretches from the locker room into retirement, and even on to coaching staffs, with uneven oversight and a lack of uniform guidelines." That same report found 25 percent of NFL players polled said they were pressured into taking painkillers. A study from the University of Washington at St. Louis found that "63 percent of the retired players who used prescription pain pills while playing obtained the medications from a non-medical source" and that retired NFL players are far more likely to abuse painkillers than the general population.

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The lawsuit was filed Tuesday. Among the more than 400 plaintiffs are ex-NFL teammates Richard Dent and Jim McMahon, the latter of whom says he was never told about a broken neck and ankle, and became addicted to Percocet. The AP reports that another plaintiff claims he played "an entire season on a broken leg and wasn't told about the injury for five years."

AP notes that six of the named plaintiffs were also plaintiffs for the concussion lawsuit that was settled in 2013 for $765 million. The league has yet to comment on the suit.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.