DEA Searches NFL Teams for Illegally Prescribed Painkillers, Drugs


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched suprise investigations of various NFL teams yesterday, reports The Washington Post:

The inspections, which entailed bag searches and questioning of team doctors by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, were based on the suspicion that NFL teams dispense drugs illegally to keep players on the field in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, according to a senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.

A class-action lawsuit filed by 1,300 retired football players "allege[s] that NFL medical staffs regularly violate federal and state laws in plying their teams with powerful addictive narcotics such as Percocet and Percodan, sleeping pills such as Ambien and the non-addictive painkiller Toradol to help them play through injuries on game days."

The San Diego Chargers, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Seattle Seahawks are among the teams that acknowledged searches (though it's not clear if those teams were being singled out for specific reasons). The pretext for the searches is the alleged painkiller abuse at the heart of the class-action lawsuit.

The DEA's investigative interest in the NFL is partly based on the agency's conviction that lackadaisical prescribing practices creates addicts. McMahon, who played from 1982 to 1996, said in the lawsuit that he received "hundreds, if not thousands" of injections and pills from NFL doctors and trainers, including Percocet, Toradol, Novocaine, amphetamines, sleeping pills and muscle relaxers. He said he became so hooked on pain meds that at one point he took 100 Percocets a month.

There's this, too:

An investigation of NFL medical practices by The Washington Post last year documented painkiller abuse in the league. In a Post survey of more than 500 retired players, one in four said he felt pressure from team doctors to take medication he was uncomfortable with. Players told The Post that they swallowed prescriptions on an almost daily basis, frequently without documentation.

Read the whole thing here.

Given the physical punishment that is at the very center of the game at all levels, it's worth asking whether we've reached peak football. Between this sort of action and growing questions about concussions and traumatic brain injuries, it's totally plausible that football, despite its immense popularity, has a time-limited future.

Last year, Reason TV sat down with Gregg Easterbrook to talk about his book The King of Sports and football's imperiled future.

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  1. Did they have warrants for those searches?

    1. Why would you need warrants for something that clearly threatens our national (and fantasy team) security?

      1. WTF just hates children, that's all.

        I mean, these people are role models for today's youth! We can't be having this kind of behavior!

  2. Given the physical punishment that is at the very center of the game at all levels, it's worth asking whether we've reached peak football. Between this sort of action and growing questions about concussions and traumatic brain injuries, it's totally plausible that football, despite its immense popularity, has a time-limited future.

    The NFL is going to eventually succumb to its own hubris and massive overexposure. Football every Thursday? Playing games in London and possibly moving a team there? Adding two more games to the regular season schedule? It's insane and it's making the sport so boring through overkill.

    1. "it's making the sport so boring through overkill."

      I wasn't sure if the sport could be more boring than it already was. Ugh.

      1. You mean you don't like 2.5 hours of commercials and constant clock stoppage with maybe 10 minutes of actual excitement if the game is close at the end?

        I love baseball because hitting a ball with a bat is the hardest feat in all of sports to perform and pitching a baseball is one of the most violent and unnatural acts you can make your arm do. The appeal is in the game itself which is why it's fun to watch even during the doldrums of its regular season.

        That and it's not insanely overpriced to attend a game at most stadiums.

        1. I am very much a fan of baseball, in general. I don't follow any particular team, but I like that it's a game of "fundamentals."

          The winner is almost always the team that plays better, in contrast with other major sports leagues.

          1. The Spurs have better fundamentals than other basketball teams too. Baseball does have its own issue with time though. Games have been getting longer and longer due to the time granted to batters and hitters between pitches.

            1. Baseball definitely has an issue with time, but so does football. I can usually watch a baseball game in less time than a four-hour-long college football game.

              1. Children's football has no issues with time. 3 hours for 2 games.

                1. Neither does Pro Football. It's the league and networks with their revenue that stretches games out to 3 fucking hours.

        2. hitting a ball with a bat is the hardest feat in all of sports

          And even if you do, you're still probably out.

        3. That and it's not insanely overpriced to attend a game at most stadiums.

          It's actually cheaper for me to drive down to Philadelphia or Baltimore and rent a hotel if I want to see a Yankee game than it is to take the train to the Stadium. I hate New York.

          1. That's why I'm going to be very pissed if at some point in the future Dodger ownership tears down Dodger Stadium and builds a new one in Downtown LA.

            I've never been to a Laker game because of how expensive tickets at the Staples Center are and that's exactly what happens when teams invest in state of the art new stadiums.

            1. Come to Minnesoda! Our county funded (of course we don't own it) had 2 years of high attendance and then - surprise, surprise - it tanked because the team is terrible.

              And the ownership - despite the new stadium that they said they needed to compete - had decided to sit on their pile of money Smaug-like instead of getting decent free agents.

              I actually feel bad for the scalpers. They bought up lots of tickets thinking the new stadium would generate lots of fan interest. Now when you go there, they are trying to get anything for them. I bought $50+ tickets to a game last summer for $5 each.

              1. I've wondered why no one thought that building an outdoor baseball stadium in Minneapolis was a terrible idea.

                Can't it snow there well into May?

                1. It isn't the weather it is the team. They had lots of cash from the new stadium and never made any serious attempt to go get top flight pitching or other players who could make an impact.

                  If you put a dog of a team on the field, go figure that no one will come see them play.

            2. Tickets at Staples should be getting cheaper shortly.

          2. Well, that's what you get for being a Yankee fan.

            1. That's why I'm going to be very pissed if at some point in the future Dodger ownership tears down Dodger Stadium and builds a new one in Downtown LA.

              That would be horrifying. Dodger Stadium is mid-century perfection, why would you tear down a classic park like that and replace it with a rip-off? The Yanks at least had an excuse: old Yankee Stadium was demolished in 1975 and replaced with a shithole.

              Well, that's what you get for being a Yankee fan.

              I think the last couple of years (and the next couple, most likely) are enough karmic retribution for the crimes of my fellows. I just want to watch the damn game.

        4. AAA is a bargain; we used to go to Dell Diamond back in Austin for

          1. Why did the rest of my comment disappear? Is there an H&R bias against the Cubs????

        5. Huh? Baseball is entertaining when you distill an entire month of games into a 60 second montage.

          1. Only if it was a good month.

      2. Have you ever tried coaching children's teams in it? Even if you think watching on TV is boring, coaching beginners is not.

    2. I also wonder how it will deal with increased competition from a sport like soccer? I'm sure some of the exceptional athletes we have playing WR, RB, CB, and Safety would probably make great soccer players if they trained from an early age. Their athleticism alone would give them a nice start.

      1. But then they'd be soccer players rather than athletes.

    3. Only if you make the mistake of assuming that football=NFL.

      It's a violent game to be sure, but the claims in the last paragraph are pure weapons grade bullshit. The biggest danger to football in general, is the continued pussification of American society.

      1. Care to elaborate on the claims in the last paragraph?

        1. Sure, the physical punishment is generally inconsequential at all levels below D1 college(not that people don't get injured, its just not the meat grinder that an NFL game is). Most of the studies about concussions that I've seen are terribly flawed. Ex. Studying the brains of former NFL players without a baseline comparison, attributing a causal relationship between brain patterns and concussions without enough evidence to justify correlation, extrapolating the impact of a decade of NFL hits to every level of football, etc.

          1. Professional football WILL die as long as pussy nannies find allies like reason - who will belatedly realize it's another excuse for market intervention by govt.

            Oh, and to the people on here that hate football - fuck you. Lots of us (more than you, to be sure) LOVE the tits out of football and want to keep it now and forever.

            For the people who hate football and love baseball - double fuck you. I'd rather watch tortoise mating than 3 innings of baseball, as would most of the USA per the ratings.

            C'mon reason - you (correctly) defend the right to get raw-dogged by 100 dicks for money but get queasy about men selling their bodies for millions of dollars. And Gregg Easterbrook is not a good source - fucker would have a US Dept of Football if he had his ruthers.

            1. No, sorry, my preferences are the correct ones, assface. Football is boring as fuck. They just do the same thing over and over again. I don't see how it is any more exciting than baseball. Both sports are mostly a bunch of guys standing around with brief moments of action. At least they play more than once a week in baseball. How can you have any confidence that the best team wins the championship when they play so few games?

              And when has Reason allied themselves with any kind of nanny that wants to force football to change?

              1. Baseball is the only sport where one can eat while playing. It fucking sucks. Difference is, football fans don't give a shit about baseball - it's infrastructure, cultural impact, etc - and I just expect the same from people that don't REALLY care about football. But instead you hear from non-fans wishing to bloviate from upon high.

                RE championships - you're conflating NFL with CFB, and it's not worth getting into with someone who thinks sports are "guys standing around".

                And I meant allying ideologically, ie articles counting down the days till football's death and sitting down with big-govt types to reinforce the point.

            2. For the people who hate football and love baseball - double fuck you.

              Lighten up, Francis.

      2. Something is going to change. I don't know what. If any other industry was injuring employees at the rate football does, it would be under intense public and governmental scrutiny. The NFL has just about used up its immunity.

        1. The injuries can't be completely done away with, or even significantly reduced though. And its like that in every sport that attracts the top .01% of athletes. Even in baseball, which is generally a non contact game, a huge percentage of players spend time on the IR list, or have surgery in the offseason.

          1. I don't know the actual rate of head injuries in baseball, but I'd guess it's way lower than football. More arm/shoulder stuff. And baseball players play longer, make more money, and have guaranteed contracts.

            But here's the point. I try to be a free-range-kids-style parent, and I only have girls, but even I wouldn't let a son play football at the high school level. And if a few more parents make that decision, football has a serious problem at the college and pro levels.

            1. Perhaps, but you're discounting the parents of athletes who believe their sons' choices are (1) menial labor, dead poor at 70 and (2) million$, dead at 60.

            2. Would you let hir play rugby?

          2. I think brain damage is going to be viewed differently than Tommy Johns surgery, though.

    4. I saw 2 very exciting games yesterday: the championships of the Jr. Pee-Wee & Pee-Wee tackle divs. of the Warrior Football Club ? http://bronxwarriorsfootball.org

      Giants 14, Chiefs 6 (JPW)
      Saints 28, Javelins 27 (PW)

  3. Even in his playing days, Jim McMahon was as dumb as Gronkowski. I can't imagine how brain damage could be diagnosed.

  4. The Left hates football and they are going to replace it with soccer.

    1. Would that actually be bad?

      1. No. I don't care much for soccer but the conservative Kultur War angst over soccer being "imposed" on America by nefarious liberal forces is one of the most retarded things I've ever heard.

        It's a fucking game, people.

        1. IT is very silly. And football is still plenty popular with people of all political stripes. I don't think soccer is going to become a rival for football as a popular sport to watch on TV (seems likely that it is already a more popular sport to play). But so what if it does?

      2. Yes. Soccer is fucking boring. Football is actually intellectual, with elements of strategy and cooperation. Soccer is a bunch of idiots walking around for 45 minutes with brief periods of running.

        1. There's plenty of strategy and cooperation in metric football. Just look at the difference between the US teams at each of the last two World Cups: off- and on-ball strategies were worlds apart even though the formations were largely similar.

          Or you could look at anything that happens on set pieces; they're easily as complex as any called play in football or basketball.

      3. *Would that actually be bad?*

        Of course it would be. Who wants to watch 90 minutes of no scoring/can't use your hands/orchestrated crowd chanting?

        No one sane, that's who.

    2. Soccer is bad too. Heading the ball can cause concussion and there are lots of ankle and knee injuries.

      1. Not nearly as bad as football though.

        1. Wrong.

          Sports Injury Rates (Hamill 1994)
          Injuries (per 100 hours)
          Soccer (school age) 6.20
          UK Rugby 1.92
          USA Basketball 0.03
          UK Cross Country 0.37
          Squash 0.10
          US Football 0.10
          Badminton 0.05
          USA Gymnastics 0.044
          USA Powerlifting 0.0027
          USA Volleyball 0.0013
          USA Tennis 0.001
          Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
          Weightlifting 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)

          1. Of course, this is a weird thing to study, since "injury" isn't really defined. My personal experience is that soccer fucks up ankles and knees.

            1. My brother broke his arm twice and his hand once between age 8-18 playing soccer.

          2. I meant in terms of serious/life-altering injuries, but I suppose it depends. I'd imagine the concussions you suffer in college or pro football are of a much greater severity.

            1. The concussion scare is overblown. Look at the guys who had multiple concussions like Steve Young, Troy Aikman, and Dan Marino. They're lucid, and don't seem to be suffering any long term effects. Compare that to my dad, who's had two knee operations(one from football, the other from beer league softball) he has limited mobility from both, and they're getting worse. I'm not saying concussions aren't an issue, just that people need to keep things in perspective and be more skeptical of studies produced by rent seeking helmet makers.

              1. Adding to this, why do we have this Luddite thinking when it comes to player safety? Safety has advanced light years and, considering the size and speed of players in football these days, is performing well vs the past eras. There's every reason to think that equipment and medical SOP's will continue to improve in the future.

      2. Plus all the faking. Their faces could FREEZE like that!!!

        Well, that's what my mom told me...

    3. I grew up playing soccer, and still love the sport. But I don't miss many GB Packer games...Course, I'm about as left wing as...Tony is rational.

  5. Can't doctors prescribe whatever they want?

    1. Zeb this isn't somalia no matter how much you want it to be.

    2. Most doctors these days are won't prescribe effective pain medication because they are terrified of coming under the scrutiny of the DEA. So people with serious chronic pain go to pain specialists, who are then arrested for running "pill mills".

      1. Yeah, I know. If you injure yourself and have a lot of pain, you are lucky to get some Vicodin these days. Doctors are getting more and more pressure to drug test patients who take any kind of controlled substance medication.

        But in theory my understanding was that they are allowed to prescribe any available medication for any purpose. SO what crime are they alleging has happened here?

        1. record keeping

        2. That's what I don't understand. What exactly is the point of this article? I can see alleging that the NFL is too prone to destroying it's employees through violence. But suggesting support for DEA cracking down on doctors prescribing meds? Meds that I'd bet many here would prefer to be able to purchase without anothers permission, on the open market? Strange....

          1. But suggesting support for DEA cracking down on doctors prescribing meds?

            Wait, what?

            1. I will expound, explain or clarify as needed, if you tell me what your question is. Or is that you didn't see anything related to my statement in the original post? Maybe I'm reading something into it, but I really doubt it.

              1. I think the question is where do you see Reason suggesting support for the DEA cracking down on the NFL? I don't see it.

                Writing about what might happen in the future does not necessarily mean that you want that to happen or support those who do.

                1. True...Maybe I'm just reading seeming dislike of the NFL, as support for actions against that sport. Didn't seem a stretch, but it isn't specified.

                  I guess were I the one writing the OP, I would have likely mentioned some opposition to the DEA's actions.

                  1. I generally assume that they will be opposed to just about anything the DEA does.
                    I do tend to interpret things charitably and give people the benefit of the doubt, but I think it is a safe assumption in this case.

        3. Crime? The DEA agents wanted to get some autographs and field passes.

    3. Only Doctor Feelgood, and he's doing 5-10 right now....

  6. We know you hate football, Nick. The subsidized stadia, the animal violence. the women. Yeah. We get it.

    Have fun watching televised Tiddly Winks? tournaments in your Somalian future, Nick!

  7. "sleeping pills such as Ambien and the non-addictive painkiller Toradol to help them play through injuries on game days."

    Why is it against the law for team doctors to give them a non-addictive painkiller to help them play through injuries?

    1. Because CHILDREN, you damned idiot

    2. It's not. Nor is it against the law to give them addictive painkillers to help them play through injuries. The DEA doesn't give a shit about the law.

    3. It's not. But after reading about the side effects of Toradol, I think I'd rather stick with opioids.

  8. Fuck the DEA and its war on chronic pain sufferers. I hope Michelle Leonhart develops a debilitating disease and doctors hand her some Tylenol and tell her to go fuck herself.

    1. Fuck that shit. No tylenol or even aspirin for that witch! She can go chew on some tree bark for all I care.

  9. I used to be a big NFL fan, I loved the game. They have become so utterly PC ridiculous now that I have quit watching it. They'll keep going until they completely ruin the game for everyone and I won't care since I've already stopped caring.

    1. They're doing the PC thing because they're afraid of the government. Well, also they believe that they public agrees with the media that their brand of violence is unacceptable. Which is likely bullshit.

      1. This

        The problem is the NFL trying to genuflect to the PC crowd, at the same time a huge chunk of their fanbase hates the PC crowd. If we can prevent future govt intervention (unlikely, but sleep perchance to dream) it'll work itself out.

        1. All the more reason for me to found the Budget Football League. It'll be cheap, politically incorrect, and cater to attendees: no advertising stoppages, no games in freeze-your-ass weather, no regular-season OT (and damn few playoffs), but some doubleheader games at neutral sites to precede home games. It'll play quicker too: no extra points, 24 secs. to play the ball from the ready for play (10 secs. from snapper's handling it), game clock running while the ball's ready for play regardless of how it became dead, halves & not quarters, no stops for time warnings, can't call team time out once the snapper touches the ball. Lots of other improvements to play, most of which will be the partial or full restor'n of old playing rules.

          The biggest safety improvement: soft padding only, no face bars, no stiff helmet or shoulder pad material.

      2. They're afraid of the government for good reason. Congress held fucking hearings about steroid use in baseball, and the tax-exempt status that the NFL holds is very likely something they'd like to keep.

        1. Why? The NFL doesn't make any profits.

          You do know that the TEAMS aren't tax-exempt, don't you?

  10. let me know when the DEA starts having cops pee in cups.

    1. I thought most cops did get drug tested.

  11. my co-worker's sister makes $75 every hour on the internet . She has been out of work for seven months but last month her pay was $16763 just working on the internet for a few hours. pop over to this web-site....

    ?????? http://www.payinsider.com

  12. My chiropractor started out as a trainer for the Detroit Lions and he has some pretty crazy stories about what went on in training rooms in the late 90's.

    He got out of that because he felt so bad about what he was doing. According to him, the job of the training staff was to get the players out on the field no matter what. Nobody cared that by doing so they were ensuring that the player would have life long injuries.

    1. Any Given Sunday was a documentary.

    2. "Nobody cared that by doing so they were ensuring that the player would have life long injuries."

      Likely including most players...

      1. Likely including most players...


      2. McMahon and other players like him are essentially suing over the favt that no one forced them to stop taking measures to keep playing that they now regret. They effectively want choices about taking these kinds of drugs out of the hands of players. They want the prescription regime strengthened, which is something Reason normally is in full throat against.

  13. " it's totally plausible that football, despite its immense popularity, has a time-limited future."

    Malcolm Gladwell thinks so

    (clearly, just looking at him you can tell he played a lot of Pop Warner as a kid, and truly sympathizes with the fact that people hurt themselves voluntarily participating in a game they love)

    1. Fuck that commie bastard.

  14. Well that would just put an end to the whole reparations thing once and for all.

  15. My buddy's step-aunt makes $89 every hour on the laptop . She has been without work for 8 months but last month her check was $14034 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check out here. ???? http://www.jobsfish.com

    1. I know "step-aunt" does have a meaning, but does anyone actually use it?

  16. He said he became so hooked on pain meds that at one point he took 100 Percocets a month.

    Wait, what?

    In the scheme of addiction, 100 percocet a month is fucking mild. That's just over 3 per day (which is exactly in line with what you're SUPPOSED to take - every narcotic I've ever been prescribed had the directions state take 1 every 4-6 hours or for pain as needed).

    I've known addicts who would 100 pills in 4 or 5 DAYS! So go shut the fuck up about how taking a pain pill exactly as prescribed = addiction.

  17. Players told The Post that they swallowed prescriptions on an almost daily basis,

    There's your trouble right there. You're supposed to give it to the pharmacist, and then swallow what you're given. Swallowing the paper could only make you sicker.

    frequently without documentation.

    You mean some of the time, they swallowed even more paper?!

  18. Hit it up JD< hit it up man.


  19. this was technically a criminal complaint though, wasn't it?

  20. Cannabinoid medicine if fully exploited could ultimately save the US $1 trillion a year. We should all be saying this. I'll give you two diseases to start:

    Cancer at $85 bn a year. About 2/3rds of diabetes at $115 bn a year. I'm sure I could find another $800 bn if I went through the whole list.

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