A lawsuit that accuses NFL teams of dispensing narcotics illegally, as well as other drugs to ensure player stay on the field has now been joined by Pro Bowl defender Marcellus Wiley.
The lawsuit extends from 1968-2008 and is currently seeking class action status, contending that team doectors and trainers routinely and often illegally provided powerful narcotics to mask pain on game days. The lawsuit contends that the narcotics were provided without concern for the players’ long-term health.
“The first thing people ask is, knowing what happened, would you do it again?” said Wiley, currently an ESPN analyst. “No. No I wouldn’t.” ESPN report.
The lawsuit was originally filed May 20 in U.S. District Court in northern California and amended Wednesday to add 250 more players, bringing the total to 750 plaintiffs. Wiley, who played in Buffalo, San Diego, Dallas and Jacksonville from 1997 to 2006, is the ninth player identified by name, joining former Chicago Bears players Jim McMahon, Richard Dent and Keith Van Horne, ex-center Jeremy Newberry and others.
Among them were the painkillers Percodan, Percocet and Vicodin, anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, and sleep aids such as Ambien. Lead attorney Steven Silverman said some teams filled out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge or consent. He said those drugs were then “handed out like candy at Halloween” and often combined in “cocktails.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment.
The former players have reported a range of debilitating effects, from chronic muscle and bone ailments to permanent nerve and organ damage to addiction. The players contend those health problems came from drug use, but many of the conditions aren’t tied to the use of painkillers.
Six of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including McMahon and Van Horne, were also parties to the concussion-related class-action lawsuit filed against the NFL less than a year ago. The NFL agreed to pay $765 million to settle that case — without acknowledging it concealed the risks of concussions from former players. A federal judge has yet to approve the settlement, expressing concern the amount is too small.
Wiley, 39, was not part of the concussion lawsuit, but decided to join former players in this one after suffering partial renal failure in April, despite no history of kidney problems. Wiley said he took “multiple injections” of painkillers over the course of a season to cope with an injury that then-San Diego team physician Dr. Steven Chao diagnosed as a severe groin sprain. After the season, an independent doctor diagnosed a torn abdominal wall that required surgery.