Feds Allegedly Investigating NFL for Painkiller Abuse

By Shawn Dwyer 07/14/14

The DEA is quietly looking into allegations that the league distributed pain pills to players after a class-action lawsuit was filed in May.

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Following a high-profile lawsuit filed by over 1,300 former NFL players, including stars like Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and Hall of Fame defensive lineman Richard Dent, the Drug Enforcement Administration has launched an investigation into whether or not NFL teams supplied players prescription drugs.

According to an exclusive report by the New York Daily News, the DEA has been in contact with former players in order to learn how NFL doctors supplied them with handfuls of painkillers like Percodan and Vicodin. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon claimed to have been given over 100 Percocets a month without being told the risks, leading to an addiction to pain pills.

“They want to find out who provided and distributed the drugs to football players,” one anonymous source said to the Daily News.

The suit described the drug problem in "the 1980s and 1990s as ‘wild west’ in terms of the NFL monitoring the medications provided to its players.”

While the case and its potential impact on the game has earned significant news coverage, neither the DEA nor the NFL have confirmed the investigation. The Players Association also did not respond to requests by the Daily News for information about the federal inquiry.

Back in May, McMahon was one of eight players to file suit against the league. At the time, their attorney, Steven Silverman, said that professional football knew about the potential risk of giving players copious amounts of drugs.

"The NFL knew of the debilitating effects of these drugs on all of its players and callously ignored the players' long-term health in its obsession to return them to play," Silverman said.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.