Is it the NFL, the players, or the team? Who's responsible?

This topic surely raises controversy among players and fans of the NFL.

We now live in a country that is the number one importer of illegal narcotics in the world. It’s sad but true, to understand the downturn of not only the economy, but other sectors of life in the U.S., such as the NFL.

Not only does this problem exist from illegal substances brought in through any means that can be dreamed of, but there are scores of people befouling their doctors to get opiates or other mind altering substances, for abuse. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was in the news this week, commenting on his feelings of this matter.

Joy users was not the topic, but you can bet there are numerous NFL players using some type of these medications for more than game day performance issues with pain. Adrian raises the red flag with some understanding and some common misunderstandings, going by AMA guidelines.

Going back to the beginning of time, men have used substances to ward off pains or difficulties with getting along or getting around. Primitive methods consisting of grounding leaves into a paste and rubbing joints down after a hard days work chasing food down, marked the start of mans medical world.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson
Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

Today, we live in a drug filled world, with ‘I want results and I want them now’ demands. It seems the sports world has daily stories, not just about steroid use, but beyond that, to pain analgesic narcotics use and abuse. Addiction had become commonplace in many circles. Peterson is making attempts to support a group of former and active football players who had their lives twisted from narcotics they contend began in the locker rooms before game time.

It seems these players, rather than taking responsibility for what they put in their bodies, are taking legal action on the teams with which they played professional football. The teams made it common to do so, in order to get players who are injured back on the field, because after all, they are paid to be playing football on Sundays, and will serve their contract by doing so. While Peterson claims to having been given narcotics before games in college and in the NFL, he empathizes with NFL players taking action against their teams.

Who’s to blame? The teams for “shoving it” at players? The NFL for making it big in the nation’s televised ratings and making it a highly competitive game? Or the players themselves, for not only taking these addictive medications for game-day, but also during the week for meetings, practice and free-time?

This subject will surely raise controversy between doctors, drug councleors, players and fans. We now live in a country that is the number one investor and importer of mind altering substances, otherwise known as illegal drugs. When we add to the illegal substances, the number of prescription drug users that have doctor’s orders to take any one of a number of pills that can and are abused on the streets, we have some kind of figure that has become very much the majority.

One other factor could be to blame in this matter, and that’s the society we have created here in the United States. It has become socially acceptable to use many drugs today in so many circles, even as far as the trendy fashion industry, designers, musicians, artists, and as time has passed over the last half-century, many of the companies that have made it a more common and acceptable behavior, at events surrounded by the companies clients, or just plain old after-work activities, such as golf, bowling, baseball leagues or other activities in which the workers participate.

Those approaching retirement age saw the start of this with the hippie generation, when “turning on” was underground, hidden, and only done by troubled youth, according to the experts back then. Those same experts today call it commonplace to have the youngsters doing those things at social events, and for parents not to worry. Through the generations, we have become a drugged country.

Now we have players, going the legal route after the teams that they played for, were paid by, and given opportunities to become very wealthy, if their talents on the field were above the competition, and in the record books. Did they get enough in return for playing injured by way of their contracts, with shots of narcotics before games? Aren’t we all responsible for what we put in our bodies? Remember the golden rule: You are what you eat? Teams may accomadate players with medical treatments, but cannot be held responsible for players behaivors after the game, or after their career ends. It was their choice, and if taken as directed, this is not an addiction, rather a physical symptom making the body dependant on a drug, that will need medical aid to reduce and end its use, when the pain symptions end. If followed as directed these players sould not be having hard feelings towards the staff they worked with while earning a very handsome salary, as they all do once on the roster.

Many players are paid millions of dollars a year in the past two decades alone, multimillionaires were made in only a few years’ service to a team. Did the teams do too much by “expecting” players to do the same as player X did, taking a shot of pain-killing medicine to allow the player to excel without pain, even if their thinking would be hampered?

Did the league become a fault for not doing enough to prohibit the use of these drugs under certain limits? Or is it just that the players themselves wanted to earn all they could, play all they could, and take as much as they needed to stand up and play football? Beyond the game, were the players wrong to go to outside doctors for the same medications? Was it all of the above?


It seems the player’s perspective on things related to this quagmire of abuse, is the the abusers were the teams are pushing a forced use of narcotics at the time they were playing, which led them into addiction. The team would say, we only wanted them to play without pain and not further injure themselves. The league from what was given to the press over the past half-century since the hippie culture brought drug use to the front pages in the U.S. did not seem to be very involved in drug/medication use, letting things be what they were between teams and players, to decide what to do on their own. B

ut what would a player do if injured? Were they just “going with the flow” getting a shot for a broken rib, then going out and catching 5 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns, as John Jefferson did (these numbers are approximate)in Green Bay years ago? J.J. might have taken narcotics, but he did finish that victory with a mile long smile on his face, and he was paid handsomely.

Others may have done the same, only to worsen their injury, forcing them to sit out part of the game. These circumstances are only for the purpose of seeing “both sides of the river” on what was right, wrong or abusive between the teams, players and NFL. A good discussion will include as many pertinent factors as there would be in a given perspective, along with all perspectives. I

‘ve learned when it comes to “drugs” people tend to take strong stances, often heated. Just look at the cartels and police along our southern border. Killings are common, and come often with graduated gross effects, such as chopping apart victims. This violence goes to show just how our world has changed, and football in its poorly played, tough guy, who hits with his helmet, and after the whistle blows, go to show what the people love to watch. Many admire that kind of violence, which we have become immune to getting the feelings we should be feeling to see another person injure themselves.

Let’s take a look at what can happen to an NFL player.

Let’s say Joe is a running back, starting on an NFL team. Last week a player landed on his knee which was ninety degrees to the ground, bending it in a way the knee is not meant to be bent. X-rays show no broken bones and ligaments are in place, but he has swelling along with pain all week long. Doctors give him a go-ahead to play Sunday, and offer anti-informatory and narcotic pain analgesics.

They have him rest most of the week, walk through practice with no contact. The last two days he can run and he does with what he describes as bad on the pain scale. The doctors approach him in an “as a matter of fact” attitude, expecting him to take the shots, so he goes along with it.

Team doctors, also prescribe some pills to sleep which he tells them was difficult because of the knee, and he begins taking pain medications to get himself used to them before game time. As the game wears on, he caught two passes by halftime for 44 yard and two touchdowns. Doctors ask Joe how he feels, he indicates the pain pills have “worn off,” so doc gives him another injection for pain.

Joe goes out and catches three more passes in the second half, with his fifth catch putting the team in place for a winning field goal with 40 seconds remaining in the game. Joe gets the game ball, and coach says, “we couldn’t have won today without Joe playing.” The leg heals up in a few weeks and Joe still feels pain so doctors give him a less potent pain medication, to be taken as needed for pain.

Oftentimes, Joe takes two every four hours, as the doctor ordered, but that isn’t enough, so he adds another, running out sooner than he should have, so the doctor orders more for Joe, at a higher dose.

Six weeks go by, and Joe slides on the wet grass, colliding with a helmet on the same knee. An injury puts him in the same position he was when he had that good game and the last injury. What do you think Joe will do about playing the next game? How did the last injured game and its outcome with Joe on all those medications affect his desire to take or not take the same ways again?

In time everything gets to feeling better, but Joe tells doc he still feels pain in the leg, and adds a fictitious ailment in his neck, so the doctor would prescribe a higher dose. Doc sees Joe had played very well this year, even after and during the injuries, and per the team presidents orders, if a player does OK taking the pills, give him what he asks for, because we want our staring players playing every week.

Now, as Joe continues playing, he flies home for the two days players get this year for the holiday. He goes to the hospital asking to be seen, complaining of pains, asking the doctor for the same pills doc gave him. He now goes back to his mother’s doctor who also cared for him before he played football, asking for a refill, saying he has forgotten his prescription back in town where he played football.

As time goes on, Joe continues going to doctors for the same medication and stops at doctors every week the team is out of town, to build up his reserve of the pills. He likes feeling better, even when he has very little pain. Soon he begins having stomach cramps, and one day begins vomiting almost a year later. It now takes Joe 10 pills to feel like he did when he began taking the pills. Joe has a big tolerance. The worst thing being that Joe needs all those pills and they do not help at all, the day he tore his finger open while being stepped on with steel cleats. This kind of thing leads Joe to stronger pills, which he now gets from the team, his own private doctor, and the neighbor at Joe’s condo village.


Taking a look at the facts, you be judge and jury.

It now is let’s say eight years later. Joe played with the team for three more years and retired from football. He worked running his own investment firm, but the company folded last year and Joe hasn’t worked since. The team continued things in the locker room just as they have done over the past years. The players do what they must do, but the facts are the facts. Players who start on these highly addictive medications often continue taking the medications long after healing has taken place.

Many times the same problem that started with them remained as what they describe their symptoms as, months and years afterward. Joe, now five years into his retirement from football, is an addict. As Joe continued to play, he found the players in the locker rooms often handed out the same pills he had been going for, and even went as far as meeting off team grounds, to buy and sell pain medications, because, after all, they were important people, and part of the name they played for.

Has society gone too far in putting a god-like superstar status in our football aces? The teams obviously looked the other way when drug trading took place. Coaches and team personnel had also paid little attention to players asking for or giving others pills at practice or game day.

After all, we have to play any way we can make it out to the field. Everyone has heard of the tough player in the league’s early years, who had another player land on his mouth, knocking two teeth out and half of two others. He sat down with the trainer at halftime, and had him pull out the remainder of the last two teeth, packed gauze in his mouth and went out to play the entire second half, and recorded three sacks that afternoon, after a shot of narcotics at halftime to go along with his dental losses.

Being a tough guy comes with the turf in the NFL. This is the most physical game in the world, and it is real. Today we see lawsuits going and it’s time I make my own controversial comments on things. Joe here as an example was labeled an “addict.” I don’t mean to be hard on Joe, but facts are facts.

1) Joe was taking more pills than he should
2) Joe ran out of his prescription early
3) Joe went to multiple sources for his medications
4) Joe continued taking the narcotics after he healed
5) In time, Joe hurt himself physically from taking the medications, causing him to vomit at times.
6) Joe was taking the medications for other reasons than controlling pain.

These six reasons Joe had trouble seem to explain not just the making of an addict, but also several other reasons there is a true drug problem in the NFL.

During the Civil War, the United States had soldiers who stayed in action with life threatening injures. Oftentimes, morphine was more available than food, and the signs of addiction were not known to the common ranks. This led to armies of addicts. The choices were to fight or be killed by enemies who surrounded them.

Today, we have educational institutions hopefully teaching our youth the warnings behind addiction. The advent of the World Wide Web has made finding out about these things available in seconds with the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger. This means there is no excuse in becoming addicted. While some NFL players are more educated than others, there’s no excuse in the world to become an addict in today’s world.

These football players who today are getting together with a team of lawyers are showing the crafty nature addicts take, in twisting reality to their favor. It’s a common trait of an addict. Not knowing when to stop is the worst trait of an addict. This means their legal proceedings are based on grounds that the team is responsible for their addictions.

While the teams may have looked the other way on having the players openly trade or give away pain medications, it’s not proper to handle these medications as they were. The league itself cannot claim not to know what was going on with players in this line of work. Together, the players and team were not doing serious criminal actions, but they did mismanage pills that have federal regulations on them.

It’s written on every prescription bottle. While the methods teams might be using are perhaps in violation to those federal laws, they are not in violation of the “bottom line” of addiction. The responsibility to not misuse narcotics lies on the user.

This is the bottom line: The user is most responsible, since it is their body, mind and injury, if one is present, to use whatever medication they may be using as it’s meant to be used.

While it’s a sad thing to see, these athletes need to learn that responsibility is their own and not anyone or anything they are involved with.

The players do not deserve a settlement in their cases as they stand, unless the team has it written in the contract. If this was the case, if addicted due to the team forcing them to take any substance and that substance having a detrimental effect on the player could mean the teams pay out, but only when playing football actively.

It’s highly unlikely any team would word a contract in that manner. When done actively, the team is not held to any injury responsibility they did have during employment with the team. With no reason to be partial, I must side with the team on a basis of responsibility. While the team gives the medication to players, so they can function better during games, it’s not giving players a reason to abuse.

Can a candy bar company be held responsible for someone being overweight? Not unless they force people to eat it, or make claims their candy is a diet food. In the same way, we cannot say suggesting taking pain medication will help an athlete play through injuries, when pain might force too many errors, or further injury by not allowing pain to be felt in areas the body builds the defense action pain is meant to give us.

In any event, the bottom line is that the responsibility to control and prevent addictions is the players, just as each individual should be responsible for, being a football player or anything else. This kind of drug holds no partiality for football players, m boys, women or girls, it acts the same with us all. Adrian Peterson did well to put his own responsibility in front of the entire NFL. He is not correct to assume the teams hold responsibility for addictions, as long as the teams were not furnishing these medications on a daily basis and beyond their stay with that team.

Even while being on a team, if the team allows and the doctors recommend the player take a medication it is still the patient’s right as well as the player’s responsibility to make the decision not to take it if addiction is a factor. No team can force taking any medication on a player. Every player needs to educate themselves on what they take and control the same things in line with the doctors orders.

The only other alternative is banning it entirely. If so, the team size will need to be increased, since injuries come with the game, and often determine the fate of that team for the season. Use them as they were designed, and follow doctors orders. One every 8 hours does not mean two every eight hours. This is where trouble begins with that kind of medication. Being a great football hero does not exclude addiction.

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