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Ex-NFL players file lawsuit claiming league misused painkillers and other drugs

Former players have filed suit with the NFL claiming the league illegally used painkillers to mask injuries. Eight players are named, but more than 400 have signed on for the potential class-action lawsuit, per reports.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

A group of retired NFL players claim in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the league illegally gave them powerful painkillers to mask injuries and rush them back onto the field, according to a report from the Associated Press. The lawsuit alleges that players were given narcotic pain medication, local anesthetics, sleeping pills and other drugs without prescriptions or any information about potential risks and side effects, leading to addiction and other medical problems after their playing days ended.

Potential side effects were glossed over in order to get players recovered and back into game action to "maximize profits," the former players claim. The lawsuit also alleges that teams didn't tell players about broken legs and ankles, instead using the drugs to avoid lost playing time.

Eight players are named in the complaint, including three members of the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, per the report. Those players include defensive end Richard Dent, offensive lineman Keith Van Horne and quarterback Jim McMahon.

More than 400 other former players have signed on to the lawsuit, and lawyers are seeking class-action status for the case. Van Horne was "fed a constant diet of pills to deal with the pain" of a broken leg, which he played on for an entire season and wasn't told of the injury for a full five years, the suit alleges. McMahon claims he was pushed to return to the field despite a broken neck and ankle, and that he also became addicted to painkillers, "at one point taking more than 100 Percocet pills per month, even in the offseason."

Plaintiffs are seeking damages for an undisclosed amount. Additionally, they want the court to issue an injunction forcing the NFL to fund a testing and monitoring program for health problems related to the painkillers.

More than 2,000 former NFL players are currently suing the league over the use of the controversial painkiller Toradol. The allegations laid out in the that lawsuit closely resemble plaintiff claims in this one.

The NFL recently settled a case with former players for a total of $765 million, which is currently being held up as a judge reviews whether or not the settlement is sufficient to meet all potential claims. Six of the eight original plaintiffs named in this new case were also plaintiffs in concussion-related litigation, the report says. Steven Silverman is the attorney for the players, and he said in a statement that 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."