Ex-Players Sue: NFL Fed Us Illegal Painkillers
They allege greedy league doped them up, didn't tell them of broken bones
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2014 12:02 PM CDT
This Jan. 16, 1986 file photo shows Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent chasing a loose ball during the NFL playoffs in Chicago.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – A group of retired NFL players, including three from the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, filed a lawsuit today alleging that the profit-thirsty league illegally fed them risky narcotics and other painkillers that numbed their injuries with no regard for health complications down the road. Players say they were never told about broken legs and ankles and instead were given pills to mask the pain; others say that after years of free pills from the NFL, they retired from the league addicted to the painkillers. The complaint names eight players, including Bears' Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent, offensive lineman Keith Van Horne, and quarterback Jim McMahon. Lawyers seek class-action status, and they say in the filing that more than 400 other former players have signed on to the lawsuit. Specifics:

  • McMahon says he suffered a broken neck and ankle he was never told about; he became addicted to painkillers, at one point taking more than 100 Percocet pills per month, even in the offseason.
  • Van Horne played an entire season on a broken leg and wasn't told about the injury for five years, "during which time he was fed a constant diet of pills to deal with the pain," the lawsuit says.
  • Former offensive lineman Jeremy Newberry describes lining up in the San Francisco 49ers' locker room with other players to receive powerful anti-inflammatory injections in their buttocks shortly before kickoff. Newberry played for San Francisco from 1998-2006, including one season in which he played in every game but never practiced because of pain. He retired in 2009, and because of the drugs he took while playing, he now suffers from renal failure, high blood pressure, and violent headaches.
The latest lawsuit seeks an injunction creating an NFL-funded testing and monitoring program to help prevent addiction and injuries and disabilities related to the use of painkillers. It also seeks unspecified financial damages.

View 2 more images

Copyright 2016 Newser, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Ex-Players Sue: NFL Fed Us Illegal Painkillers is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 8 comments
May 21, 2014 9:18 AM CDT
If they are too stupid to go to their own doctor, they can't blame the NFL. I guess retired football players become crybabies when they retire. Whatever happened to taking responsibility for yourself.
May 21, 2014 4:40 AM CDT
In 1974, Butkus filed suit against the Bears and Fox, asserting they kept him on the field previously with painkillers while discouraging him from enlisting the services of other doctors. Butkus had signed a five-year, $575,000 no-cut contract before the '73 season that he was unable to fulfill because of the knee injury. Butkus eventually received a $600,000 settlement in 1976. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-24/sports/ct-spt-0825-mitchell-butkus-urlacher-bears--20120825_1_regenokine-knee-treatment-knee-injury
Internet Browser
May 21, 2014 1:46 AM CDT
The 85 Bears were my favorite team. I was just a kid but the adults were always calling Jim McMahon a sissy for always getting hurt. Shit man, he shouldn't have been playing at all! But hey, you know what, you wanted to be a gladiator. That's what this is all about, as close as we can get to watching people kill each other with axes, right? He could have been anything in the world, he chose to get smashed to the ground by the biggest people in the world for a living. That shit is going to hurt. If he did in fact have a broken neck and was not told and would have quit, wow, that sucks. Who knows, money talks and bullshit walks and we can't say he was or wasn't told the extent of his injuries, that is up to the courts. As an adult I hate football, I think it's the saddest representation of what Americans think is entertaining. I'd rather watch milk turn to cheese than watch a football game now.