Painkillers in the NFL Trilogy

Are prescription painkillers an NFL sanctioned PED?
My Trilogy on painkiller abuse in the NFL takes a deep dive into the problem it poses, some of the players it impacts, and the ensuing lawsuits.  I’ve placed links to all three articles here as well as a few related pieces.   I hope you’ll check it out.

Painkiller Lawsuits: Un-Tangling the NFL’s Web of Secrecy Part I

Herein lies a sordid tale. It’s certainly no secret that the NFL is a highly guarded enterprise, only sparingly leaking the information they wish to make known. While a few high profile cases surface in the headlines, most litigation is seldom if ever reported. While making thousands of appearances in courtrooms annually, the NFL’s high-powered legal teams have been quite adept at keeping most of its dirty laundry in the hamper. Read More about “Painkiller Lawsuits: Un-Tangling the NFL’s Web of Secrecy Part I”

Are Prescription Painkillers an NFL Sanctioned PED?

Going into the final stretch of the 2016-2017 season, the NFL has imposed 44 fines or suspensions on players for violations of the league’s substance abuse or performance enhancing substance policies. Much of the substance abuse discipline is related to players’ use of marijuana, some for medical purposes as in the case of Bills OT Seantrel Henderson, who was suspended for using physician prescribed cannabis for symptomatic treatment of Crohn’s Disease, a gastrointestinal disease so painful that it renders many of its sufferers unable to walk. Cannabis is one of the few, and also most effective ways of treating this presently incurable disease. Other players who may use marijuana for pain management related to playing injuries are also subject to suspensions, should they be caught – regardless of whether or not marijuana use is legal in the state where they live.
Numerous other players have faced fines and suspensions for ingesting performance enhancing drugs, several, allegedly by accident. Eagles RT Lane Johnson has filed a lawsuit against both the NFL and Players’ Association claiming in addition to a number of procedural violations that the Aegis app provided to players is not accurate and the union isn’t doing enough to protect players from accidental ingestion of banned substances.
The one class of drugs the NFL does not appear to have a problem with is painkillers – both of the opioid and NSAID variety – yet these are allegedly used outside the boundaries of medical guidelines constituting imposed substance abuse for the sole purpose of enhancing players’ ability to perform and remain in the game. If statements made by dozens of former players and a handful of active players are true – and I see little if any reason for doubt, – then the NFL is engaged in a dangerous hypocrisy regarding drug use. Read More about “Are Prescription Painkillers an NFL Sanctioned PED?”

Painkiller Abuse in the NFL Part III: A Tale of Two Lawsuits

Painkiller use is part of a largely unseen culture within professional sports in general, and the NFL in particular. While no one would question the need for painkillers in a sport as inherently physical as professional football, where to draw the line between legitimate pain management and painkillers as a tool for exploitation of athletes is much less clear.

As I described in Part I, a culture has developed within the league that prioritizes getting the best players on the field in order to win football games, giving fans the star players they want to see, and most importantly from a league perspective, to generate ever increasing revenue. Read More about “Painkiller Abuse in the NFL Part III: A Tale of Two Lawsuits”

Here are a few articles which supplement the Trilogy.

Judge’s Order Keeps NFL Painkiller Lawsuit Alive

On February 3, Judge William Alsup ruled on a Motion to Dismiss filed by the member clubs of the NFL, granting in part and denying in part, thus allowing a proposed class-action painkiller suit filed by retired NFL players to move forward. The lawsuit, one of two currently in the Ninth Circuit, claims that the NFL and its member clubs created a “return to play” culture that placed players at greater risk of permanent injury and potential organ damage by administering high dosages of pain medications over a prolonged period of time without issuing any warning of adverse effects. Read More about “Judge’s Order Keeps NFL Painkiller Lawsuit Alive”