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NFLPA exectuive director raises topic of painkillers

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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INDIANAPOLIS - The NFL Players Association held its annual Super Bowl press conference Thursday at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis. Executive director DeMaurice Smith touched on several subjects during the session, including player health and safety. He brought up one point that is often unmentioned when the subject arises – painkillers. Players regularly use different agents to mask pain in order to practice or play in games. But those can also be detrimental since it covers up the body’s way of saying something is wrong and leaves players vulnerable to worsening an existing injury. “As we look to issues of health and safety,” Smith said, “whether it be return-to-play guidelines, whether it relates to the way in which the way players are treated by their medical professionals as we confront the issue of painkillers and the use of painkillers, not only on game-days and practice days, but how that issue of using pain-killing drugs continues to be an issue for our players and our men and their families long after football is over. … There will never be a day when this union makes the decision as we arrived.” The statement came during a speech about various league issues, but the fact he mentioned that specifically indicates it could become a larger issue in the future. Especially since the use of painkillers amongst players is so common it is rarely mentioned. Here are the rest of Smith’s comments on health and safety: “We have obviously been tremendously aggressive on the issue of health and safety. At times that issue of health and safety was threatened by the overwhelming interest of economics, cap, salary cap, number of games played, what happens in the offseason, who gets traded. Our fundamental focus will always have to remain on those men who play this game as men first and the families who support them.” “So, have we arrived at what we would consider to be nirvana in the state of health and safety for the players, health and safety for former players? The answer is no. Are we going to continue to be aggressive about those issues as they come up? Yes. The collectively bargaining agreement contains this year for the first time an accountability provision … which is designed to do one thing – as medical care is delivered to our players, that medical care abides by every federal, state, local, professional and ethical standard.”

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