Dozens of former players joining a lawsuit against the NFL say teams kept handing out powerful painkillers and other drugs with few — if any— safeguards as recently as 2012. That extends by four years the time frame for similar claims made in the original complaint and could open the door to a criminal investigation.
"On flights home, the routine was the same everywhere," said Brett Romberg, who played center in Jacksonville (2003-05), St. Louis (2006-08) and Atlanta (2009 and 2011). "The trainers walked up and down the aisle and you'd hold up your hand with a number of fingers to show how many pills you wanted. No discussions, no questions. You just take what they hand you and believe me, you'll take anything to dull the pain."
With the federal Drug Enforcement Administration beginning to look into accusations contained in the lawsuit — filed in May and covering the years 1968-2008 — the new allegations could dramatically expand the investigation's scope, legal experts said. Any violation of federal drug laws after 2009 would not be subject to the five-year statute of limitations.