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NFL accused of misusing painkillers to cover up serious player injuries

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A group of retired football players filed suit against the NFL today, alleging that the league illegally provided them with narcotics and painkillers to mask their injuries and keep them on the field, leading to substance abuse issues and medical complications later in life. Eight players are named in the suit, including Jim McMahon and Hall of Famer Richard Dent, and 500 other former players are said to have signed on as well seeking class-action status. Their claims paint the NFL as a profit-hungry entity with little concern for its players, concealing their injuries without regard to their long-term medical impact.

"The NFL places a premium on return to play to the detriment of a player’s health."The NFL has not yet commented on the contents of the lawsuit. "We have not seen the lawsuit and our attorneys have not had an opportunity to review it," an NFL spokesperson tells The Verge. This is far from the first time it's become embroiled in a health controversy, however. Last August, it settled concussion-related lawsuits with over 4,500 players to the sum of $765 million, though it did not admit to wrongdoing.

One plaintiff in the new lawsuit alleges that the NFL kept him playing on a broken leg for an entire season and didn't reveal the injury to him for five years. Another plaintiff alleges taking upward of 100 Percocets each month given to him by league trainers. "I was provided uppers, downers, painkillers, you name it while in the NFL," J.D. Hill, a wide receiver during the ’70s and a plaintiff in the suit, tells the Associated Press 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 seeks unspecified monetary compensation as well as medical monitoring services for the more than 500 players involved. With attention already on the NFL's alleged failures in protecting its players' health, the new lawsuit should assure that the subject stays in the spotlight. "With its priority on profit, the NFL places a premium on return to play to the detriment of a player’s health," the lawsuit reads. "The time has come for that to stop."