DEA Raids NFL Teams
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DEA Raids NFL Teams


Sunday Bloody Sunday

The Washington Post recently published an article about how the DEA conducted surprise inspections on NFL teams across America because they’re highly suspicious that the NFL is handing out painkillers like candy. After the shit storm of awful publicity the NFL has done for itself in the past year, the DEA couldn’t care less about cracking down on an American tradition.

When the San Francisco 49ers beat the New York Giants in a low scoring 16-10 game at MetLife Stadium, the DEA held a random inspection. Then the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, lost to Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium and were inspected as well. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were also inspected at Baltimore-Washington International airport. The DEA says they have reasons to inspect those teams in particular but they’re going to do it on all 32 teams in the league.

Even the Sports Guys Have to Follow the Law

The laws that the DEA believe the NFL teams are breaking are manifold: non-MD’s or non-RN’s distributing prescription drugs; the mislabeling and wrongful transportation and storing of prescription drugs and doctors working outside their geographic areas of practice and the illegal handling of opioids by trainers. DEA spokesman Rusty Payne says the investigation was trigged by a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in May by more than 1,300 retired NFL players alleging that their teams’ medical staffs regularly violate state and federal laws in handing out pain pills like Gatorade for players to play through pain—specifically on game days (which is why the DEA chose to raid the teams at airports and stadiums on their away games).

The DEA busted the San Diego Chargers in 2010 after their safety Kevin Ellison was pulled over with 100 Vicodin pills in his sports car. In 2013, the New Orleans Saints had to pay a huge fine for failing to “properly store, control and dispense medication” after security tapes showed the assistant head coach stealing Vicodin from a cabinet and the team altering records to cover it up. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon says the he received “thousands” of injections and pills from doctors and had to take 100 Percocets a month just to walk. McMahon needed to be in the hospital, not playing on Sunday.

Enough Is Enough

The feds have had enough of the NFL’s creation of addicts and Alzheimer’s patients with improper medicating. In August they made a new rule that hydrocodone has to be kept in special lockers and also heightened the restrictions on refills.

Last year, The Washington Post surveyed more than 500 retired NFL players and found that 25% felt pressure from the team doctors to take medication they were uncomfortable with, 90% said they played hurt during their careers and more than two in three claimed they felt they had no choice.

Members of the NFL are part of a long list of enabled and pampered people who think they can get away with anything because of their status in the world. But being enabled isn’t any sort of privilege. These guys have the bodies of 100-year-old cancer patients by the time they’re 40 because of doctors who care about paychecks and what happens on the field. I’m the biggest supporter of sports success and its importance in the world that I know, but even I understand that some trainer in khaki shorts shouldn’t inject a player with painkillers just so he can do his job. I hope the DEA fines the hell out of these guys and puts people in jail to send a message to professional sports. I’m sick of athletes I watch in awe every night becoming old dogs by their late 30s and barely getting through the car commercials and pre-game shows that employ them. They mean a lot to America and their health should, too.

Photo courtesy of Jack Newton ( [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

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About Author

Carlos Herrera is a comedian, photographer and writer whose work can also be found on The Fix . He has been featured in LA Weekly and has performed at The Hollywood Improv among other places.