Former San Francisco 49er defensive end Richard Dent and Chicago Bears quarterback Jim Mcmahon are among the retired players who have accused the National Football League of plying them with painkillers to mask injuries during their careers in a federal lawsuit.
The complaint filed in San Francisco last week opens a new front in the battle between the NFL and thousands of former players who have sued over concussions received during their playing years.
The suit accuses the league of illegal and rampant misuse of the painkillers in order to keep players on the field, helping to build the NFL into a billion-dollar empire. The complaint alleges fraud, negligence and violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
Between 1990 and 2013, the league’s total revenue skyrocketed from $1.5 billion to over $9 billion. And Commissioner Roger Goodell has set a target of $27 billion by 2027, according to the complaint.
The increasing number of games, longer seasons and shorter recovery time between games, plus bigger players has led to more frequent and debilitating injuries, according to the lawsuit.
Mcmahon, who played for he Bears and Philadelphia Eagles, said he became dependent on painkillers after 18 surgeries during his career, the lawsuit states. The complaint says Mcmahon’s injuries were never allowed to heal properly and he continued to play.
Dent, who currently lives in Illinois and played for the Bears, the Indianapolis Colts and Eagles, said he received “hundreds, if not thousands, of injections from doctors and pills from trainers” including anti-inflammatory medication and Percodan.
Rather than give players an opportunity to rest and heal, the “NFL haws illegally and unethically substituted pain medications for proper health care to keep the NFL’s tsunami of dollars flowing,” the suit states.
Although many of the players have retired, they allege the statute of limitations has not run on their claims because they were not warned about the dangers of drug cocktails, potential addictions or the dangers of taking the medications significantly longer than medically necessary.
The suit seeks damages for the players, punitive damages against the league and a a court declaration that the NFL engaged in misconduct.
Case: Dent v. NFL, No. 14-cv-2324