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A group of retired NFL players has filed a lawsuit against the league alleging that teams knowingly and illegally supplied players with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to keep them on the field, and held back information regarding the long-term dangers associated with taking the drugs.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of over 600 former NFL players, names eight plaintiffs including former Chicago Bears Richard Dent, Keith Van Horne and Jim McMahon, as well as ex-San Francisco 49er Jeremy Newberry and Buffalo Bills wide receiver J.D. Hill. Newberry is currently battling stage 3 kidney failure resulting from Toradol, a painkiller he says team doctors and trainers pressured him to take.

League-Wide Problem

Across the NFL, players are willingly taking painkillers to control the pain they experience from playing a dangerous and violent game. According to a report on ESPN, even those who aren’t injured are taking painkiller injections before games to prepare for the physical abuse they are about to experience.


  • To prolong their careers
  • To keep their jobs
  • To support their families
  • To help their teammates
  • To satisfy their need for competition and desire to win

As a result, many players retire from the NFL addicted to painkillers or suffering from the effects of long-term drug use. Some of the drugs that professional football players routinely take include:

  • Toradol – a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug intended for the short-term management of moderately severe acute pain
  • Vicodin – a pain killer combining acetaminophen and hydrocodone, a narcotic
  • Percodan – a combination of aspirin and oxycodone, a narcotic that is habit forming, even at low doses
  • Percocet – a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone
  • Ambien – a sleep aid that is unsafe for those with kidney or liver disease or a history of drug or alcohol addiction

The retired players reported a range of debilitating effects from the drugs, including chronic muscle and bone ailments, kidney failure, high blood pressure, severe headaches, and permanent nerve and organ damage. The suit, which has the potential to become a class-action, alleges that the NFL knew or should have known it was violating federal and state substance abuse laws by putting profits ahead of players’ health.

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