NFL seeks to dismiss ex-players' lawsuit alleging painkillers dispensed with few safeguards



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SAN FRANCISCO — The National Football League on Thursday is expected to ask a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former players who say team officials gave them powerful painkillers and other drugs to keep them on the field without regard for their long-term health.

NFL lawyers in court papers deny the allegations and argue that the former players waited too long to file the lawsuit.

The NFL says that a two-year statute of limitations claiming personal injury has expired. The former players filed the lawsuit in May. Several prominent former players have publicly joined the lawsuit, including Marcellus Wiley, Jim McMahon, Richard Dent, Keith Van Horne and Jeremy Newberry.

The lawsuit represents players who played as far back as 1968. It says the former players didn't realize the health hazards they faced until recently.

The former players say that NFL physicians and trainers routinely provided narcotics and other controlled substances on game days to mask the pain. The lawsuit says many of the drugs were dispensed without prescriptions.

The former players argue that they were never warned about the dangers of the drugs they were given and only recently discovered the potential harm they face from ingesting so many painkillers. Among the drugs said to have been handed out were the painkillers Percodan, Percocet and Vicodin, anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, and sleep aids such as Ambien.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment.

In court papers, the NFL lawyers say the lawsuit doesn't specify what damage the former players have suffered and who exactly dispensed the painkillers at the heart of the complaint.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday morning in San Francisco's federal court.

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