While the NFL continues to scramble for ways to quiet all of its former players who claim they are suffering from the long-term effects of head injuries, the league is facing new legal complications. On Tuesday, a lawsuit that has been signed by more than 400 plaintiffs was filed accusing the NFL of illegally using prescription pain killers to mask injuries.
The suit, which was filed by attorney Steven Silverman in San Francisco, alleges that the NFL regularly provided players with prescription medications to allow them to keep playing and dangerously speed up recovery times. Two of the more high-profile plaintiffs are former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent.
Players claim team doctors misused drugs to the point where broken bones were not reported. Instead, teams would allegedly pump players full of pills and injections to mask the pain and send them back onto the field.
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted, the players who are involved with the suit will face a number of hurdles before action can be taken. The NFL will argue that the matter should be handled through private arbitration and not in a courtroom. The league will also try to prove that players assumed all health risks involved with their profession.
However, the players who have and are expected to receive settlements from the concussion lawsuits faced the same obstacles, and they have overcome many of them. If players can prove that doctors illegally prescribed painkiller and failed to inform them of possible health risks associated with their injuries and the medications they were taking for them, the NFL could end up with another major problem on its hands.