Opening another legal attack on the NFL over the long-term health of its athletes, a group of retired players accused the league in a lawsuit Tuesday of cynically supplying them with powerful painkillers and other drugs that kept them in the game but led to serious complications later in life.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages on behalf of more than 500 ex-athletes, charges the NFL with putting profits ahead of players' health. To speed injured athletes' return to the field, team doctors and trainers dispensed drugs illegally, without obtaining prescriptions or warning of the possible side effects, plaintiffs contend. Some players said they were never told they had broken bones and were instead fed pills to mask the pain. One said that instead of surgery, he was given anti-inflammatory drugs and excused from practices so he could play in games. Others said that after years of free pills, they retired addicted to painkillers.
The case comes less than a year after the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to settle suits from thousands of retired players who accused it of concealing the risks of concussions. A federal judge has yet to approve the settlement, expressing concern the amount is too small.
The new suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco and names eight players as plaintiffs, including three members of the champion 1985 Bears: quarterback Jim McMahon, Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent and offensive lineman Keith Van Horne.
Ravens: Running back Ray Rice received initial approval to enter a court program that could result in dismissal of a criminal charge against him in New Jersey. The decision announced Tuesday relates to an aggravated assault charge he faces following a Feb. 15 incident with his then-girlfriend in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The couple married a day after he was indicted.
Vikings: The team traded up to get Teddy Bridgewater, a quarterback from Louisville, with the last pick of the first round so they could lock him into a four-year contract that includes a team option for the fifth season. Under the NFL's salary slotting system, Bridgewater, who signed his deal Tuesday, will get just under $7 million over four years.
Owners meeting: Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he expects the league to expand its playoff field from 12 to 14 beginning in the 2015 season. The owners discussed the measure during Tuesday's meeting in Atlanta but did not vote on it.