Eight former NFL players acting as representatives, including Jim McMahon and Richard Dent, are suing the NFL, and seeking class action status for as many as 500 players, alleging the league pushed painkillers and other medications without prescription, and proper warning.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges that the NFL administered drugs illegally to return players to the field and maximize profits. Players claim that they were not told the true nature of injuries and instead given painkillers to mask pain, without prescription. One of the named plaintiffs, Keith Van Horne, alleges that he played an entire season on a broken leg without knowing, and instead was “fed a constant diet of pills to deal with the pain.” The players allege that as a result of the league’s actions, many of them retired with painkiller addictions, and never received proper warning.
The lawsuit seeks to have the NFL fund and create a testing and monitoring program to prevent addiction, as well as monetary damages.
“The NFL knew of the debilitating effects of these drugs on all of its players and callously ignored the players’ long-term health in its obsession to return them to play,” according to Steven Silverman, attorney for the players.
This litigation comes on the heels of the head injury litigation, which was settled for $765 million last year, though the settlement agreement has yet to be approved and finalized.