Jim McMahon claims the NFL forced him to play with a broken neck and illegally supplied players with risky narcotics in a bid to numb injuries and allow them to play.
The former Chicago Bears quarterback joined a group of retired NFL players who filed a lawsuit Tuesday, claiming that the league obtained and administered drugs illegally, without getting a prescription or warning players of the risks involved. The suit claims that the league often hid injuries like broken ankles by giving players strong painkillers which allowed them to play in revenue-generating games.
The suit comes after another action against the league last year, when the NFL settled a concussion lawsuit for $765 million. The lawsuit claimed that the league knowingly concealed the risks of concussion from players, allowing them to play while concussed and leading to long-term health problems for many of them.
McMahon said he has since recovered, at least to a degree.
“My head is not full of fluid,” McMahon said. “It’s not pounding. I can actually get up in the morning and walk down the hall and feel good.
The newest lawsuit comes from Jim McMahon and two of his teammates from the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears — defensive end Richard Dent and offensive lineman Keith Van Horne. Five other players are named as well.
In the lawsuit, McMahon claims he broke his neck but was given medication and pushed to remain on the field. Team doctors never told him about the injury, McMahon claimed.
As a result of the treatments, many players left the NFL with addiction to painkillers. Jim McMahon said at one point he was taking 100 Percocet pills per month.
“I was provided uppers, downers, painkillers, you name it while in the NFL,” plaintiff J.D. Hill, who played for seven years in the 1970s, said in a statement. “I became addicted and turned to the streets after my career and was homeless. Never took a drug in my life, and I became a junkie in the NFL.”
The suit is seeking for the NFL to create a league-funded testing and monitoring program to prevent addiction related to painkiller use. It also seeks financial damages.
“The NFL knew of the debilitating effects of these drugs on all of its players and callously ignored the players’ long-term health in its obsession to return them to play,” Steven Silverman, attorney for the players, said.
The NFL has not responded to the claims or Jim McMahon and other players filing the lawsuit.