Federal Drug Agents Raid NFL Medical Offices After Former Players Launch Class Action Suit Against League

Federal Drug Agents Raid NFL Medical Offices After Former Players Launch Class Action Suit Against League

Spokesmen for several National Football League teams, as well as a spokesman for the League itself, have confirmed to the media that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents conducted surprise inspections of multiple, but as yet unnamed, teams recently. The teams’ medical staffs were “raided” at the conclusion of each targeted team’s game on Sunday, November 16, as part of an ongoing investigation into prescription drug abuse in the League. The DEA and the NFL declined to name the teams that were inspected, but the sports media reports that at least three of the teams were the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although it’s known others were also targeted. According to media reports, the DEA was working in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration to inspect some teams’ property at airports following their games. Inspections involved random searches of medical and other supply bags and questioning of team doctors and medical techs.

The DEA is conducting an investigation into reports that the League condones the illegal use of restricted prescription drugs in an effort to keep injured players on the field, when in fact they would otherwise be benched. A DEA spokesman named Rusty Payne was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that the inspections and the League-wide investigation was triggered by a class action suit launched earlier this year by 1,300 retired NFL players. The former players claim they were encouraged to use prescription drugs without doctors’ prescriptions, drugs such as narcotic painkillers and benzodiazapines which have unwanted side effects. In another story, the Post said former stars Jim McMahon and Richard Dent filed the class-action complaint in U.S. District Court in San Francisco in May, alleging the league “illegally supplied them with painkillers to conceal injuries and mask pain.” The players say addictive drugs were administered without proper prescriptions, in illegal doses, without medical supervision and with little or no explanation of risks and dangers. “Rather than allowing players the opportunity to rest and heal, the NFL has illegally and unethically substituted pain medications for proper health care to keep the NFL’s tsunami of dollars flowing,” the complaint reads.

The suit alleges 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.” It says the League’s medical staffs have been following the practice of dispensing drugs illegally for more than 40 years. “Players described being given unlabeled medications in hazardous combinations, teams filling out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge, trainers passing out pills in hotels or locker rooms and medications handed out on team planes after games while alcohol was consumed,” the Post reported. “The DEA has a responsibility under the Controlled Substances Act to ensure that registrants who possess, prescribe and dispense controlled substances are following the law,” the DEA’s Payne said. The DEA’s actions were aimed at discovering whether or not NFL medical staffs “adhere to federal regulations governing the dispensing of controlled substances across state lines.” Payne didn’t speculate on what if any action the DEA might take based on its findings.

But the Post reported that penalties can range from suspension or revocation of licenses, to civil fines or prosecution. Matt Matava, president of the NFL Physicians Society and the St. Louis Rams’ team doctor, said in a statement that, “The NFL team doctors strive to comply with all regulations in prescribing and dispensing drugs to our patients, the players.” Matava’s statement flies in the face of the claims being made by 1,300 former players, and the DEA has had to discipline several NFL physicians and teams in the past. In 2010, DEA agents raided the offices of the San Diego Chargers after player Kevin Ellison was busted at a traffic stop with 100 Vicodin pills in his car. And only last year, the New Orleans Saints were fined for “failing to properly store, control and dispense medication” based on security tapes showing a coach stealing handfuls of Vicodin from a cabinet, and a team official telling the coach that they should alter the records to cover up the theft. NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash, when asked to comment, said: “The whole issue of pain meds is a big, important issue in our society well outside the NFL.

It is something our doctors are looking at.” Although what Pash said about pain meds was meaningless double-talk in context of the NFL being under siege from the DEA, it’s certainly true in the larger arena of life in America. We are looking forward to the NFL getting straight and honest about its drug use, of course for the longer term health of its players, but also to help clean up the ethical picture that the case has been sending to our youth since the suit was launched last May. There’s been tacit condoning of illegal painkiller and other prescription drug use, including steroids, for decades in this country. And not just in pro sports, but in college sports programs and even as early as middle and high schools. Winning a football game will never be as important as winning a lasting respect for a healthy, drug-free life.

Wherever the DEA investigation leads, or however the players’ class action suit resolves, no one can deny that misuse of prescription drugs is a very serious problem not just in sports but everywhere in America. Here at Novus Medical Detox Center, we deal with the downside of prescription drugs — abuse, dependence and addiction — every day of the week. The upside is that Novus’s cutting-edge prescription drug detox medical protocols really work to help our patients rediscover the joys of a life free from drugs. And we work with many recovery facilities and professionals across the country to ensure our patients take the next follow-up step that is right for them. If you or someone you care for is in any way under the influence of drugs or alcohol, please don’t hesitate to call Novus. We are always here to help.

Start Your New Path to Sobriety Today!

    • Please enter your name.
    • This isn't a valid phone number.
    • Please enter your email address.
      This isn't a valid email address.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.