Former Jets quarterback Ray Lucas realizes that he’s responsible for his addiction to painkillers, but he strongly resents the NFL’s failure to accept the reality that the league got him hooked in the first place.
As explained by Michael O’Keeffe of the New York Daily News, Lucas becomes livid when discussing the May 12 blurb from the league-owned website pointing out that Lucas acknowledges his role in the addiction, without any comment on the league’s share in the blame.
“Where was the NFL when I said I would kill myself?” Lucas said, furiously. “Where is the story on everything that has happened to my wife and family? Where was the story on that?”
The point is that, while no one forced Lucas to take the pills, painkillers have for years been a normal part of life in the NFL — creating an environment in which addictions easily can arise.
“It’s my problem,” he said. “It’s true that my tolerance grew because I took painkillers when I was hurt, but the fact is that I chose to take those pills. I want other people to know that if they see their tolerance growing, rather than just upping the number of pills, talk to a doctor and figure out what’s really going on.”
The fact that Lucas became so angry when NFL.com posted its space-filling item on a story that originated elsewhere demonstrates the confusion that naturally arises from efforts by the league to create content that looks and feels independent of 345 Park Avenue. As long as the league owns and operates NFL.com, readers reasonably will assume that any word that appears on NFL.com is a direct reflection of the league, especially since no story on NFL.com ever contains any type of disclaimer.
The league is NFL.com and NFL.com is the league, and that reality will always either handcuff the tone and the content of the league-owned website, or it will in cases like this one create potential problems.
“I’m more than a little angry about it,” Lucas says. “In the recovery world, I have to take responsibility, but in the real world, the NFL had a responsibility and they didn’t help me when I needed it.”
Don’t count on NFL.com writing an item in which it acknowledges and agrees with Lucas on this point — even if everyone who writes for the league-owned site privately does.