(NaturalNews) More than likely concerned about its growing irrelevance now that cannabis prohibition is finally coming to an end nationwide, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has decided to launch an official investigation into the alleged prescription drug abuse culture of the National Football League (NFL).
Reports indicate that the DEA has dredged up decades-old complaints by former NFL players who say they were never told that painkillers and other drugs freely administered came with the potential for side effects. Former Detroit Lion J.D. Hill, who has signed onto a new lawsuit, claims that he was injured by prescription drugs during his stint with the NFL between 1971 and 1977.
According to an exclusive report by the New York Daily News, more than 1,300 NFL retirees are included in a class-action lawsuit filed against the league in San Francisco that alleges gratuitous misuse of drugs to treat pain and injuries. Players were routinely handed prescription drugs like candy, claims the suit, without a proper diagnosis or prescription.
Included amongst the nine named plaintiffs are former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, as well as his former teammate and Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent. Pro Bowl defensive end Marcellus Wiley, who now works for ESPN as an analyst, is also named in the suit.
"The allegations in our lawsuit, that the NFL has violated state and federal drug laws, have been confirmed by over 1,300 former NFL players," stated Steve Silverman, an attorney representing the former players. "We are pleased to learn that the DEA and United States Department of Justice are also taking our clients' allegations seriously and are actively protecting the welfare of NFL players."
Drug abuse culture of NFL led to addiction, injuries and homelessness, claims suit
It's not as though any of this is news to the DEA, assuming that the agency has been paying any attention at all to the known inner workings of the NFL. The 1995 book You're OK, It's Just A Bruise documents the league-wide problem of pharmaceutical drug abuse, focusing specifically on abuse that was taking place on the Oakland Raiders team nearly 20 years ago.
According to Hill and others, it was basically policy within the NFL not to inform players about the true severity of their injuries, even if these included broken bones. Trainers would also administer all sorts of painkillers to players without explaining what they did, or how they might present an opportunity for further injuries.
"Some players didn't know their options, and so taking the pain killers and taking advice of the trainers and doctors is what players did," Hill is quoted as saying to CBS Detroit. "Most of us were in that boat, that we had no idea [of] the side effects... the addiction that could occur [from] some of the medications, the painkillers that were being given to us."
Other former players have affirmed this, adding that some of the drugs freely distributed by the NFL actually created addictions to other drugs. Ex-New York Jets quarterback Ray Lucas is one of these, having told the Daily News back in 2010 that, following his football career, he suffered from an addiction to street drugs as a result of chronic, football-related issues that persisted in his neck and back.
"One former trainer has described the 1980s and 1990s as 'wild west' in terms of the NFL monitoring the medications provided to its players," adds the suit, which despite its plethora of anecdotal evidence may still be difficult to prove in court.