Ex-USC Lineman Armond Armstead Claims Painkillers Caused Heart Attack

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 11:  Defensive tackle Armond Armstead #94 of the USC Trojans waits for play against the Arizona State Sun Devils on October 10, 2008 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  usc WON 28-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Former USC defensive lineman Armond Armstead suffered a heart attack back in 2010 at the age of 20, and he claims that it was brought on by the use of painkillers.

It was a specific type of painkiller, "a generic version of Toradol," according to an ABC News report by Megan Chuchmach and Brian Ross:

Despite stated label risks of possible fatal heart attack, stroke or organ failure, college football players across the country are still being given injections of a powerful painkiller on game days so they can play while injured, an ABC News investigation has found.

The report goes on to explain that this version of Toradol is "injectable," and that it is being more and more widely used in college and professional sports.

Gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney failure are possible side effects of the drug when used for prolonged periods of time, which the warning label on Toradol indicates it is not intended for, per Chuchmach's and Ross' report. It is also not intended for "chronic pain."

Armstead is then quoted with regard to how he felt while he was on the drug:

Armstead said the shot made him feel "super human" despite severe ankle, and later shoulder pain, and that without it, he never could have played in big USC games against Notre Dame and UCLA.

"You can't feel any pain, you just feel amazing," the former star player said.

The label warns that the possibilities of heart attack and stroke exist. The big issue is Armstead's assertion that he was unaware of these dangers, and went in to get the injections before big games and again at halftime—no questions asked.

Armstead filed a lawsuit against the school and the doctor, Dr. James Tibone, asserting that "the school ignored the stated risks of the drug and never told him about them."

With the issue of player safety coming to the forefront all the more in both college and the NFL, painkiller-abuse is sure to be a mainstay in the vernacular if reports like these continue to surface.

There is always risk associated with the physically brutal sport of football. Anything can happen when 22 men step onto the gridiron flying full speed at each other. But gutting through severe injuries hopped up on painkillers is definitely not a wise strategy, no matter how big the game is.

Painkillers are a slippery slope. The fact that the top two programs in the nation at the moment were not more open about the issue is somewhat revealing.

"The top two college football programs, Notre Dame and Alabama, refused to answer questions from ABC News about the painkiller," Chuchmach and Ross report.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin displayed his ignorance about the issue recently:

Later at a news conference promoting the Sun Bowl, where USC was defeated earlier this week, Kiffin said he had no idea when or if Toradol was being used on his players, or about its risks.

"Well, if that was the case then, yeah, I did not know that until you told me," Kiffin said. "You educated me, thank you."

As the report states, the major professional sports require teams to keep track of Toradol injections, but the NCAA "has no such requirement."

This can very easily ruin young athletes' futures. Armstead's case may be the first in a long line that will hopefully change this egregious policy in college football.