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.

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