Fresh from tentatively settling the class action lawsuit based on the concussions suffered by its players, the National Football League faces a new challenge that promises to cause the League migraines for years to come. Eight former NFL players — Richard Dent, Jim McMahon, Jeremy Newberry, Roy Green, J.D. Hill, Keith Van Horne, Ron Stone and Ron Pritchard — are named in the suit filed in San Francisco, which plaintiffs’ attorneys intend to convert into a class action covering all retired players. The complaint claims that the League, through employees of its member teams, supplied its players with illegally obtained drugs and painkillers throughout their careers. No one advised them of the risks involved in such drug abuse. As a result, the players claim they were kept on the field although injured, and they now suffer debilitating medical complications including drug dependency.
When the concussion suit was originally brought, many thought the underlying theory was legally weak because football players certainly were aware of the risks they faced from playing the game, with concussions foremost among them. This suit is quite different because it involves risks the players might not have been aware of, and, as a result, poses a much greater threat to the League’s coffers and reputation as America’s leading sport.