Newberry says, "I played with broken bones, I played with separarte shoulders, I played with torn ligaments. I played with about everything under the sun--anything they could shoot up and numb." He claims that it was common for more than half the team to drop their pants before games and take an injection of the painkiller "toradol", which was prescribed by a doctor. Newberry also went on to say that the absolute "worse" side effect he was told about from taking this drug would be body bruising. Newberry was never told that longterm use of Toradol will destroy a person's kidneys, and the doctors consistently gave him a clean bill of health, so he never questioned it. However, the doctors behind the scenes documented his decline in renal failure.
Newberry said, "There were signs of deterioration in my kidneys back to 2004, in my blood work and physicals every year and every year it got a little bit worse. The first time I learned about it was when I ended up in the Emergency Room for five days, getting treatment, trying to SAVE MY LIFE and bring my blood pressure down." Numerous players were polled on wether or not they knew that Toradol could cause serious side effects and the majority answer was "NO!!!". According to the lawsuit, "...the NFL has intentionally, recklessly, and negligently developed a culture of drug misuse, substituting players health for profit." Of course, the players are seeking financial compensation for long term health care for problems that they have developed. To me though, this issue is less about money and more about human quality of life.
There is evidence that doctors and trainers, many of whom were never licensed to give out prescriptions, wether narcotic or controlled substance. These trainers were handing out sleeping pills, painkillers, energy boosters like candy. The more important goal of this lawsuit is to seek changes in the way the NFL distributes painkillers, including Toradol, an anti-inflammatory drug that is most commonly used in emergency rooms during operations or post-ops to help with pain management. This lawsuit is the second major of it's kind and follows the lawsuit in 2013 regarding the NFL's mismanagement of concussions.
I think there is responsibility on both sides of this argument, and in no way can the player lack some type of responsibility, especially considering that professional athletes play with the knowledge that they risk many health problems. However, I don't think ANY athlete signed up for a career that will end with them needing a kidney transplant. I am pretty sure that if Jeremy Newberry was aware of the potential side effects and that his life would be on the line due to usage of these drugs in order to remain on the field that he would have made a different decision. C'mon, this guy is 38 Years Old and he is facing a life or death health problem. This is where I think there is a problem in the NFL and where I feel that the leagued is more worried ab out the game and not the player. I also believe this filters down to team physicians and trainers due to the enormity of the NFL.
An even more disturbing fact is that there is medical records regarding Newberry's blood levels that showed a direct trail to his kidney failure. There are also countless stories of these horror stories in the NFL, and I am sure that these issues are not just relegated to the NFL, but also all other sports. These stories portray a culture of the NFL that puts profits ahead of the players in their league and their health. On ESPN today, Marcellus Wiley was interviewed about the problems that are being raised by this lawsuit. During the interview he made a few very important statements. Wiley described one year that he was receiving painkillers for an injury that was diagnosed as two groin strains. Well at the end of the season, during a routine physical, doctors diagnosed Wiley with a torn abdominal muscle. Wiley never fully recovered and ultimately retired. He went on to say that the doctors informed him that his injury was the worst abdominal tear they had ever witnessed. He cited the fact that Donovan McNabb had the same type of injury, sat out a full season and went on to still have a productive career.
In conclusion, this lawsuit definitely brings up many issues that need to be researched and addressed. First and foremost, there should be more exclusive rules regarding painkillers and narcotics and other pain medications in the world of all professional sports. Secondly, if trainers are going to be the ones that do dispense these drugs, they should have to be certified and also educated on all of the possible side effects of each drug. Thirdly, these side effects and any long term health problems must be communicated to the player. Have the player sign a waiver giving up their right to sue if they have injuries or side effects from taking these drugs. Put the responsibility on the player. I am sure that there will be much more that comes out from this story. However, me not being an athlete would like to raise the question: Would you sacrifice 30 years of your life for a little bit of fame? Until next time, this is Jason Voorhees reporting for phillysportsradio. Make sure to tune in on Thursdays for the Saloon Rock Club w/ Johnny E and Kevin L. Also, make sure to check out the HairMetalMansion with Andrew the Axeman. Finally, if you are looking for all things sports...check out intheneutralzone.com.