As rookies, all of our 9 named plaintiffs and over 400 retained clients were shocked by their introduction to the NFL drug culture. Nothing in high school or college prepared them for the widespread availability of painkillers and anti-inflammatories in the NFL. They had never experienced a routine in which NFL doctors and trainers provided large amounts of these dangerous drugs on a daily basis.
For decades, the NFL has fostered a culture of misuse of prescription pain killers by directly and indirectly supplying players with, among other things, the following types of prescription pain killers:
Opioids: Opioids are narcotics that act purely to block and dull the pain sensation. The side effects of opioids include sedation, respiratory depression, constipation and a sense of euphoria. Opioids are commonly known to be highly addictive and they are indicated for short-term use by patients with no family or personal history of drug abuse and for those without significant respiratory issues.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDs”): a class of drugs that have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects to mitigate pain. The most common NSAIDS are the over-the-counter aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, but NFL players were given one of the most potent NSAIDs, Ketorolac (brand name Toradol®), which can be taken in pill form or through injection. While all NSAIDs have blood thinning properties and have been linked to long-term gastrointestinal and other issues, Ketorolac is seen by physicians as particularly dangerous and its use is generally limited to very short-term administrations in hospitals for surgical patients.
Local anesthetics (such as Lidocaine): are generally indicated as a local anesthetic for minor surgery and/or dental procedures. The drug is generally injected and it operates to numb the area in which it is injected. Lidocaine has been known to result in cardiac and central nervous system (CNS) issues for certain patients and it is indicated for surgical use in patients without heart and/or CNS problems.
Our clients report that each category of these drugs was often administered without a prescription and little regard for a player’s medical history of potentially-fatal interactions with other drugs. Administering drugs in such a manner constitutes a fundamental misuse of this carefully-controlled prescription medication and a clear danger to the players. The distribution of controlled substances and prescription drugs by team trainers without the required individual doctor-patient relationship violated federal law and all ethical medical standards.
Our clients universally believe that the NFL treats its players like pieces of meat – its only concern is getting players out on the field for the next game. The League employs doctors and trainers to ensure that players make the game, not to render health care. This practice maximizes league revenue and lowers its salary costs at the expense of the long-term health of its players. In a clear display of putting profits before players, weekday games have been instituted to the detriment of player’s health. Weekday games require even greater reliance on drugs by the league to get its banged-up stars on the field for prime time television.
The NFL’s drug policies are not an error, mistake or an act of negligence. This is INTENTIONAL. All the named plaintiffs state the reasons for coming forward at this time is to get former players in need the medical assistance they require and to protect future players from experiencing the same problem.