In a countermove to protect players from attempts by teams to force them to sign waivers as a precondition to team doctors prescribing the strong painkiller Toradol, the NFL Players Association filed grievance Tuesday against NFL clubs and the NFL Management Council.
The grievance, filed by the NFLPA on behalf of the players, demands an order from the arbitrator that nullifies all previously executed liability waivers involving the use of Toradol and mandates that physicians cease and desist requiring players to sign such releases as a condition of receiving appropriate medical treatment, according to a statement released Wednesday by the NFLPA.
Toradol is not a banned substance in the NFL, but it can cause long-term kidney, liver and gastroinstestinal problems.
The NFL already is being sued by numerous former players for injuries or treatments they endured during their careers that they contend led to long-term issues. Against that litigious backdrop, the NFL, by demanding such waivers, apparently wants to at once prescribe Taradol and be free from liability related to the drug in the future.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith discussed the issue on CBS This Morning when he said such a grievance would be filed as covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which, Smith contends, prevents NFL teams from seeking such a liability waiver for the use of Taradol.
According to Wednesday's release, "The position of the NFLPA is NFL club physicians have a duty to inform players of the risk and side effects of prescribed medications and may obtain informed consent from the player. However, if an NFL club physician believes a player would be placed at an unacceptable medical risk by using Toradol as part of the care and treatment of an injury, or if the club physician is concerned about the long-term effects of such use, the team's medical staff should inform the player of that opinion and refuse to administer Toradol.
"The NFL club physician should not administer Toradol and require that a player sign a waiver of liability before doing so. If, on the other hand, there is no such concern on the part of the club's medical staff, it should advise the player that the use of Toradol is appropriate."
There was no official response by the NFL Wednesday morning, but league spokesman Greg Aiello did issue a tweet pointing to a story on another subject related to the NFLPA.
The story cited Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who told a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the players' union has avoided implementing procedures to test for HGH, a banned substance. The NFLPA agreed to this in the CBA signed 2011, but has since contended that tests for HGH aren't necessarily valid, according to Cummings, who points out that these tests are already used by Major League Baseball and Olympic sports.
"They say they need more time. . . before doing what they agreed to," Cummings said of the NFLPA. "To me, it seems obvious the Players Association is simply running out the clock. Although they agreed to HGH testing, they are now trying to back out of the contract."