Painkillers Dragged Ex-NFL Player to His Grave

Tom McHale overdosed after battling addiction
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2008 5:43 PM CST
Tom McHale's persistent post-NFL shoulder pain prompted him to try oxycodone, but he became addicted almost immediately.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – The drug-fueled depression of 9-year NFL veteran Tom McHale crept up on friends who considered him a font of generosity and enthusiasm, the Washington Post reports. His upbeat post-football life, running restaurants and working in real estate around Tampa, Fla., seemed unlikely to end in an accidental overdose. But the playful 282-pound former guard and tackle became addicted to oxycodone nearly the first day he took it.

McHale showed signs of helplessness oncehe started the medication for shoulder pain 3 years ago. By early last year, he was using cocaine. McHale’s condition improved after time in rehab, but concerned friends and family failed to prevent a fatal relapse earlier this year. "I don't have an answer for why Tom had to die of addiction," a childhood friend said. "I just know that on our own we can't overcome it."