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Ex-NFL Players Sue, Alleging Painkillers Used to Mask Injuries

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on May 21, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The NFL is already facing a head injury lawsuit by former players that will likely cost them close to a billion dollars.

Now, another group of former players (including several of the plaintiffs from the former lawsuit) have filed a separate lawsuit alleging the NFL illegally provided painkilling drugs to players to encourage them to play despite serious injuries.

Who are the players behind this latest suit, and what are they asking for?

Dent v. NFL

The lengthy complaint, filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco, seeks class action status for more than 500 plaintiffs, all former NFL players.

The named representatives of the proposed class in the suit include three members of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears: Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent, quarterback Jim McMahon, and offensive lineman Keith Van Horne. The other players named in the lawsuit are former 49ers lineman Jeremy Newberry, former Cardinals receiver Roy Green, former Bills receiver J.D. Hill, three-time All-Pro lineman Ron Stone, and former Oilers and Bengals linebacker Ron Pritchard.

The players allege that the NFL "recklessly and negligently created and maintained a culture of drug misuse, substituting players' health for profit." Their suit "seeks financial compensation for the long-term chronic injuries, financial losses, expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish and other losses" the players have suffered.

In the complaint, the eight named plaintiffs detail their experience with being given drugs "hundreds, if not thousands" of times during their playing careers by doctors and trainers on behalf of the NFL. They also document their subsequent personal and health problems as a result of their drug use, including drug addiction, homelessness, kidney failure, heart problems and a wide range of other side effects. The drugs given to players allegedly included opioids, anti-inflammatory medications and anesthetics.

Class Action Cases

A class action suit is a lawsuit in which a group of people have suffered the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action. If the class action is allowed to proceed, the named plaintiff, in this case Dent, will be permitted to file a lawsuit on behalf of all the members of the class.

According to the complaint, the potential class members for this lawsuit -- former NFL players who say they were given drugs illicitly by the NFL -- could number as high as 5,000.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the AP that the league's lawyers had not yet seen the suit and declined to comment further.

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