Report: DEA investigating NFL's prescription drug abuse

Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon (AP)
Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon (AP)

When some former NFL players brought a lawsuit accusing the league of illegally providing painkillers to mask serious injuries, some eyebrows were raised at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The New York Daily News wrote on Sunday that the DEA is investigating the NFL for alleged abuse of prescription medication among its players. Agents from the DEA's New York division have reached out to former players, trying to learn how doctors and trainers get access to prescription drugs like Percodan, Vicodin and Toradol, the Daily News reported. 

The lawsuit that prompted the investigation was initially filed in federal court in May by eight former players, the most notable being former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and former Bears Hall of Fame end Richard Dent. The attorneys who represent about 1,300 retired NFL players sought a class-action lawsuit, alleging the league of illegally obtaining and administering the drugs, not telling players about potential side effects. All of this was done in an effort to get the players back on the field, the lawsuit says. Some of the drugs masked the pain, but led to long-term health problems, according to the lawsuit.

“The allegations in our lawsuit, that the NFL has violated state and federal drug laws, have been confirmed by over 1,300 former NFL players,” Steve Silverman, an attorney for the former players, told the New York Daily News. “We are pleased to learn that the DEA and United States Department of Justice are also taking our clients’ allegations seriously and are actively protecting the welfare of NFL players.”

The News' story said the DEA investigation may help the players' lawsuit, because it could uncover evidence not available to the lawyers. The NFL declined comment to the Daily News.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!