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New suit against NFL raises issue of painkillers

By Howard Fendrich
AP Pro Football Writer / December 5, 2011
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A lawsuit filed by 12 former football players against the NFL about its concussion policies says there was widespread pregame use of an anti-inflammatory drug that could put someone with a head injury at increased risk.

Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn is among the plaintiffs named in the complaint that attorney Christopher Seeger said was filed in federal court in New Jersey on Monday.

It's one of about a half-dozen suits filed against the NFL in recent months by past players who say the league did not do enough to protect them from concussions. As in other complaints against the league, the latest criticizes the NFL's original committee on brain injuries and says the league concealed risks of concussions.

"The difference with this case is what we've learned from our players is that they used to administer a drug called Toradol, which is basically a painkiller ... even when players didn't have symptoms," Seeger said in a telephone interview. "Our experts say that's the worst thing you can do for a brain injury or a concussion."

Seeger said it would be "impossible" to say exactly how much money Horn -- who caught more than 600 passes for the Chiefs, Saints and Falcons from 1996-2007 -- and the other plaintiffs are seeking.

"We're looking for better medical benefits and compensation," Seeger said.

"Some time back, we contacted the NFL about trying to work this out," he said, but those discussions didn't lead to a settlement.

Asked about the lawsuit, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to The Associated Press: "The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."

Aiello declined to specifically address the issue of the use of Toradol.

The complaint prepared by Seeger's group says: "Plaintiffs have described the situation as one of being in a pre-game locker room with players lining up to receive injections of Toradol in a `cattle call' with no warnings of any sort being given, no distinguishing between different medical conditions of the players, and regardless of whether the player had an injury of any kind."

Seeger said his clients have issues nowadays that "range from mild cognitive problems to those that are more severe, including brain damage."

He expects his number of clients to increase.

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