NFLPA Files CBA Violation Grievance Against NFL over Use of Painkillers

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27:  Commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell visits SiriusXM NFL Radio during the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Lisa Lake/Getty Images

The National Football League Players Association reportedly filed a grievance against the NFL last month for violations of the collective bargaining agreement based on the distribution of prescription drugs.

On Tuesday, Sheilla Dingus of Advocacy for Fairness in Sports noted the filing cites a violation of CBA Article 39 and Article 2, which focus on "non-compliance with federal law and ethical guidelines" related to the "administration of federally scheduled drugs and painkillers."

The NFLPA grievance states the league has failed to comply with changes to the CBA in 2011, which required league doctors to follow "all federal, state and ethical guidelines" for treatment. The players association claims the "NFL and its member clubs have continuously, egregiously disregarded" those standards.

In March, Rick Maese of the Washington Post reported the content of sealed court documents, which detailed "multiple instances in which team and league officials were made aware of abuses, record-keeping problems and even violations of federal law and were either slow in responding or failed to comply."

The Washington Post report included one example of record-keeping failure:

In August 2009, for example, Paul Sparling, the Cincinnati Bengals' head trainer, wrote in an email: "Can you have your office fax a copy of your DEA certificate to me? I need it for my records when the NFL 'pill counters' come to see if we are doing things right. Don't worry, I'm pretty good at keeping them off the trail!"

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Offensive lineman Kyle Turley, who played nearly a decade in the NFL before retiring in 2007, spoke with Vice Sports about "playing numb" because of painkillers:

Meanwhile, a group called the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition is working to advocate marijuana as a "safer and more effective treatment" than prescription drugs to handle the day-to-day pain that comes from playing professional football.

Advocacy for Fairness in Sports noted the NFLPA is seeking an "order of compliance for each instance of violation" since the latest CBA ratification.

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