DEA Investigation Surprises Two NFL Teams

By Paul Gaita 11/19/14

The spot checks performed last Sunday were the clearest indication that the Feds are indeed investigating the NFL over alleged drug violations.

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While millions of fans enjoyed their traditional Sunday afternoon football game, representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were conducting anything but business as usual with two NFL teams.

Agents paid an unannounced visit to the San Francisco 49ers’ locker room to speak with members of its medical staff while the team was playing the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That same day, agents conducted a spot check of the medical staff for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a Baltimore-Washington airport shortly after their 24-7 win over the Washington Redskins.

Medical staff were asked to present documentation to the agents as to whether or not they possessed any controlled substances, as well as to confirm whether or not their doctors were allowed to practice in the home team’s state. DEA representative Rusty Payne said that the visits were part of an “ongoing investigation into violations of the [Controlled Substances Act],” and that other teams may have been visited as part of an ongoing investigation. When asked, the National Football League was unable to confirm whether or not any irregularities were found.

The checks were part of an ongoing investigation launched in the wake of a lawsuit filed in May 2014 on behalf of more than 1,200 former players, who alleged that the league, its physicians and trainers, handed out prescriptions for potent painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet to manage pain, but failed to properly disclose the medication’s long- and short-term side effects. The players have reported an array of debilitating health conditions as a result of this unchecked prescription plan, including addiction, nerve and organ damage and muscle and bone maladies.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.