The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, could
turn into another black eye for the NFL, which last year agreed to
pay $760 million to thousands of former players who filed suit
claiming the league downplayed the risk of concussions.
An NFL spokesman declined to comment on the new lawsuit, which was
filed on behalf of eight NFL players who were active between 1969
and 2008 and seeks class action status on behalf of 500 others.
"In contravention of federal criminal laws, the NFL has
intentionally, recklessly and negligently created and maintained a
culture of drug misuse, substituting players health for profit," the
plaintiffs say in court documents.
The suit claims that as players have gotten bigger and the season
longer, injuries have become more common and serious, prompting the
NFL to rely on pain medication to keep the players on the field and
revenues coming in.
Among the named plaintiffs are Keith Van Horne, an offensive tackle
with the Chicago Bears from 1981 to 1993 who according to the
lawsuit played an entire season on a broken leg, wearing a special
boot to reduce swelling in the limb.
"He was not told about the broken leg for five years, during which
time he was fed a constant diet of pills to deal with the pain," the
Also named is former star quarterback Jim McMahon, who according to
the lawsuit was given "hundreds, if not thousands" of injections
from team trainers over the course of his career and ultimately
became dependent on painkillers.
The suit seeks unspecified compensation for long-term injuries
suffered by players as well as financial losses, pain and suffering
and monitoring of future medical issues, as well as punitive
[to top of second column]
More than 4,500 former pro football players sued the NFL in 2012,
claiming the league hid the dangers of brain injury from players
while profiting from the sport's sometimes violent physical contact.
In January, a judge rejected the proposed $760 million settlement
reached between the two sides, saying it might not be enough to pay
up to 20,000 former players who might be eligible for payment.
Attorneys for both sides have said they believe the judge will
approve the settlement after they submit further documentation.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Missouri and Dan Whitcomb
in Los Angeles; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid and Eric Walsh)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.