DEA reportedly looking into NFL locker rooms for potential prescription drug abuse

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The federal government is taking a look at the inner workings of the league, specifically the handling of prescription drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has reportedly launched a probe in the National Football League, investigating the method of teams giving out prescription drugs to players, according to the New York Daily News.

The report states the DEA is actively working to find out how teams acquire these prescription drugs such as Toradol, Percodan and Vicodin. Much of the investigation is centered around painkillers.

After recently coming to terms with former NFL players on a concussion lawsuit, the NFL is now dealing with another class-action lawsuit involving 1,300 former NFL players, who allege the league gave them drugs without notifying them of the long-term ramifications to keep them on the field. A few of the more recognizable names in the lawsuit include Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Famer Richard Dent and his ex-Chicago Bears teammate Jim McMahon.

"The allegations in our lawsuit, that the NFL has violated state and federal drug laws, have been confirmed by over 1,300 former NFL players," Steve Silverman, an attorney for the former players, told The News on Friday. "We are pleased to learn that the DEA and United States Department of Justice are also taking our clients’ allegations seriously and are actively protecting the welfare of NFL players."

Some of the examples within the lawsuit of painkillers being distributed at the player's risk include Dent dealing with permanent nerve damage after playing eight games with a broken foot. His former teammate, Keith Van Horne, claims he played an entire season with a broken leg thanks to continuous usage of painkillers. Per the story:

"One former trainer has described the 1980s and 1990s as ‘wild west’ in terms of the NFL monitoring the medications provided to its players," the suit said.

However, Robert Boland, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, believes the NFL could have a leg to stand on, per the report.

"I don’t think the NFL loves the fact that there is a drug investigation," Boland said. "But in the end, the NFL may be able to successfully say this is a club matter."

In terms of a reaction to the report, the NFLPA provided no response, the NFL declined to comment, and the DEA spokeswoman said she was "not aware of an investigation into prescription drug abuse in NFL locker rooms."

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