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Lucas angry with NFL for ignoring its role in his painkiller addiction

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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.

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30 Responses to “Lucas angry with NFL for ignoring its role in his painkiller addiction”
  1. thejuddstir says: Jun 23, 2012 10:05 PM

    I feel for Lucas as a person and his problems but his claim is what’s wrong with society today. It’s always somebody else’s fault. His claim that he was responsible rings rather hollow when he is quick to accuse the league. I’m not a millionaire yet and I blame corporate America because they didn’t help me to overcome my shortcomings.

  2. norvturnersneck says: Jun 23, 2012 10:18 PM

    Sounds like he wants to blame everyone else.

  3. therealdmuls says: Jun 23, 2012 10:25 PM

    I’m glad Lucas owns up to the fat that he was the one taking the pills. But seriously why do all these former players blame their personal problems on the NFL. If they were to work for any other fortune 500 company and become addicted to some kind of pill or drug it would be their problem. Take responsibility for your own actions, no one forced you to play in the NFL. You had your college degree payed for. You chose your profession. Own up to you own personal decisions.

  4. packhawk04 says: Jun 23, 2012 10:31 PM

    I would like a player to step up and say ive had issues during my playing career and after my career. And you know what the nfl owes me? Not a damn thing. I chose to play football. I signed the contracts, i collected the large amounts of money, and i knew my health would be at risk. Im living with the consequences, but i chose them.

  5. irishgary says: Jun 23, 2012 10:36 PM

    so the NFL force fed him the pills. Sounds like he has a long way to recover, still blaming others for his weakness

  6. cletusvandam says: Jun 23, 2012 10:39 PM

    Ray Lucas blaming the NFL is like fat people blaming Mcdonald’s

  7. bchapman2011 says: Jun 23, 2012 10:39 PM

    All nfl players should be required to take the following course upon entering the NFl Draft…Personal Accountability 101. In this course players will learn that they are responsible if they wind up broke, start using drugs, or wind up injured after their playing days. How can you say Lucas is taking responsibility if he is still pointing the finger at the NFL?

  8. cidman2001 says: Jun 23, 2012 10:43 PM

    Wait a minute here!!! Lucas is 100% correct. He’s owning up to and acknowledging his role in his addiction. He’s sought appropriate help. It seems he is on the right path for now as he is clearly saying the right things. How you get that he wants to blame someone else out of what he said is beyond me. It sounds like a lot of blowhards that know nothing about addiction. Being a chronic pain sufferer I happen to know a few things about this subject. What other profession besides professional sports and the military, do they advocate, and pretty much require, the use of painkillers in order to continue doing your job? It’s like a drug dealer denying responsibility for his customers addiction.

  9. lennydpocketqb says: Jun 23, 2012 10:46 PM

    Since Namath, Jets quarterbacks are so weak.

  10. tebowsafraud says: Jun 23, 2012 10:50 PM

    This story reminds me about a certain team in the news lately. It’s fans claim their hometown heros are being picked on by Roger Goodell.

    While they insist Goodell is “looking for a way to nail them” (while offering no credible proof to back up that accusation) they conveniently forget that if Goodell or the league REALLY wanted to “get” this team he could have done so years ago.

    That’s when the HEAD COACH and the ASST HEAD COACH were caught (one on video no less) with their hand in the cookie jar. Except this cookie jar did not contain macaroons but Vicodin. When the GM was made aware of this he fired the Team Security official who busted them.

    One has to wonder what kind of blackmail material Payton and Vitt must have on Loomis to survive TWO embarrassing scandals in 3 years. And is Benson so senile these days he’s clueless about his own team?

  11. keeppounding says: Jun 23, 2012 10:50 PM

    Had he not played football. Had he not got injured and taken pain killers due to his INJURY from FOOTBALL. Would he have been introduced to them in the first place? A lot of you are quick to judge this man. I get you Ken. Keep fighting your battle. Hey corporate America, this guy got injured playing FOOTBALL and as a result became addicted to pain killers, what’s your excuse?

  12. gbmickey says: Jun 23, 2012 11:08 PM

    Cidman sounds like you have some personal demons of your own that you have yet to take resposibility for.

  13. norvturnersneck says: Jun 23, 2012 11:11 PM

    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.”

    The NFL isn’t required to do anything for you. Stop looking for someone to blame.

  14. poolboy87 says: Jun 23, 2012 11:22 PM

    Quite a few of you people are absolutely being crazy in your defense of the league and your incredible opinion on personal accountability. I have a feeling that a fair number of you aren’t quite so strict in your own life when it comes to always taking 100% of the blame.

    This guy is absolutely correct to place a little bit of blame on teams for not responsibly dealing with pain medications. Out here in the real world, opiods are dealt with pretty seriously. Go to your doctor, complain of pain, then start asking for more pills more quickly and see how long it takes before you get cut off. In the NFL? That never happens, because team doctors are making an effort to get the guys on the field, not to treat problems like a normal doctor.

  15. mjkelly77 says: Jun 23, 2012 11:24 PM

    cidman2001 says:Jun 23, 2012 10:43 PM

    Wait a minute here!!! Lucas is 100% correct. He’s owning up to and acknowledging his role in his addiction. He’s sought appropriate help. It seems he is on the right path for now as he is clearly saying the right things. How you get that he wants to blame someone else out of what he said is beyond me. It sounds like a lot of blowhards that know nothing about addiction. Being a chronic pain sufferer I happen to know a few things about this subject. What other profession besides professional sports and the military, do they advocate, and pretty much require, the use of painkillers in order to continue doing your job? It’s like a drug dealer denying responsibility for his customers addiction.
    _______________

    What you’re not acknowledging is the fact that he chose to continue playing football. Nobody put a gun to his head. He chose to continue to play football just like he chose to continue to take painkilers.

  16. jbcommonsense says: Jun 23, 2012 11:28 PM

    Some serious d-bag unfeeling posters tonight. I suppose you wouldn’t assign any responsibility to a heroin dealer either? Consider the given facts of these situations: Green kids in their early 20s in a profession where pain-killers are an absolute necessity. And you don’t think their teams/medical personnel have a tremendous duty to guide these young players in their pain-killer usage?!

  17. packhawk04 says: Jun 23, 2012 11:32 PM

    Cidman, you’re missing the point. “What other profession besides professional sports and the military do they advocate and pretty much require the use of painkillers in order to continue doing your job?”- Not very many. That’s when you, as a professional athlete, say… Hey, I dont like doing this, so i’m going to choose another profession. Nobody held a gun to his head and made him play professional football.

    “It’s like a drug dealer denying responsibility for his customers addiction.”- Yeah, it’s pretty much like that. And it’s not the drug dealers problem if somebody is addicted. I don’t hold gas stations accountable for me smoking because they sell them. I don’t hold liquor stores accountable for selling beer that I drink. I’ve had addictions to various drugs in the past, and there was only one person responsible for it- me.

  18. stairwayto7 says: Jun 23, 2012 11:46 PM

    If Lucas would have killed himself there would have been a 30 second video on ESPN of his highlights and 20 would be him on the sidelines!

  19. tfbuckfutter says: Jun 23, 2012 11:57 PM

    My wife is usually reluctant to accept my apologies when I say “I’m sorry for doing what you made me do.”

  20. neurosports says: Jun 24, 2012 12:10 AM

    I am a doctor who works with individuals with brain injuries. Because of my area of expertise, I also provide education to individuals with opiate addictions. On the side, I am an avid sports fan who scours this site regularly. For the first time I felt a strong need to comment on a post… Because there is a significant difference between being naive and ignorant.

    Painkillers are an equal opportunity drug. No matter your background, personality, or personal beliefs, we all have the same propensity for developing an addiction to opiates, especially if we experience chronic pain. NOBODY ever starts taking painkillers and wants to get addicted. Tolerance occurs whether you want it to or not, especially if nothing can be done to alleviate the pain. For you idiots that think this guy is whats wrong with this country, try explaining that to the hundreds of patients who I have treated over the years who got unwillingly addicted to oxy following botched or infected c section surveyed. I commend this guy for acknowledging his role, but you can bet your life that no counseling was available from the doctors who were told to manage his pain so he could play.

    This is going to become more and more of a prevalent issue over the next day. Are you going to feel the same way when someone like peyton manning or troy aikman comes out and talks about their addiction? would you feel differently if this was a white, successful quarterback?

  21. seanx40 says: Jun 24, 2012 12:23 AM

    I am a bit amazed at the views here. Did any of you ever play football at the college or pro level? You suffer injuries that would cripple normal people. And continue to play with them. The team staffs make it clear that you either play, or lose your place on the team. And then they hand you the drugs. In college, that means taking the drugs to continue your scholarship that no way in hell your parents could continue to pay. Many players are often the first ones in their family to go to college in the first place. An athletic scholarship is the break of a lifetime for them. IF they make it to the pros(I sure as hell didn’t. Except for a few days in AFL training camp in the 90s. Just for the fun of it), the pressure is drastically greater. Now players are risking millions. Or hundreds of millions. You take the drugs. And the teams are delighted to hand you them. The NFL, and NCAA do bear some responsibilities. And need to do a drastically better job making sure that players are not getting addicted. But they won’t. Too damn much money to make.

  22. thcnote says: Jun 24, 2012 1:01 AM

    keeppounding says:
    Jun 23, 2012 10:50 PM
    Had he not played football. Had he not got injured and taken pain killers due to his INJURY from FOOTBALL. Would he have been introduced to them in the first place? A lot of you are quick to judge this man. I get you Ken. Keep fighting your battle. Hey corporate America, this guy got injured playing FOOTBALL and as a result became addicted to pain killers, what’s your excuse?
    ————
    He got addicted because he is mentally weak and nothing else. And you are a complete MORON.

  23. holdthebeans says: Jun 24, 2012 1:03 AM

    Nah if Lucas had killed himself they would be yelping about concussions again. All the NFL’s fault too though even though they provide em with the best equipment money can buy. Players have bargained themselves out of full contact practice and wonder why they can’t form tackle anymore. Never mind it’s always somebody elses fault.

  24. newyorkfootballjets says: Jun 24, 2012 1:06 AM

    Everyone is full of excuses and always looking for someone else to blame. Lucas is just out of pill money and looking for someone to buy him more. Cry babies blaming the dealers lmao . Should the dealer reimburse you for the gas you used to get to their house too? How do these people not know meds only cover symptoms not cure them .

  25. capitaloffense says: Jun 24, 2012 2:02 AM

    Smoking and beer drinking aren’t used to make you productive at whatever your job is either. I highly doubt your job can only be done by less than 1% of the world at the ultimate level. Chances are you are more easily replaced than NFL player, as most of us are.

    Every man must take responsibility for their actions. You’ll get no argument there. However in the dog-eat-dog world of the NFL where the unspoken (sometimes spoken) requirement is “play when hurt,” painkiller use is deeply rooted in the culture. So this is not like beer, cigarettes or even heroin. When your livelihood can be taken from you if you fail to play to a certain standard, of which, playing with injury is a part, the use of painkillers is damn near required. So yes, he could have chosen not to play football and turn his life upside down and do something other than what he prepared to do HIS WHOLE LIFE. This is not to mention the fact that he may have had no idea that he would become addicted to the severely commonplace drugs, such as various painkillers that are taken before and during EVERY game played. Nothing in this world is just black and white as most of the posters here and on the whole internet seem to believe.

    Lucas did not say he had no responsibility. He has obviously taken responsibility. He is simply saying that is the NFL is going to print a story about him, don’t be half @$$ about it. If they are unwilling to address the culture of painkiller use that is, WITHOUT QUESTION, created by this league it’s probably more prudent to keep the story to yourself. The toilet should not write a story about $#!% without including itself.

    Addiction is a sleeping monster that lies inside of people’s brain. Most people aren’t even aware if it exists within them or not. Once awakened it is usually the hardest task of a person’s life to put this monster back to rest. It’s not some simple “just quit” thing. Most people don’t undertand this concept, so most of these posts aren’t really surprising and come from innocent ignorance of addiction.

  26. ruthlssjag says: Jun 24, 2012 2:03 AM

    I applaud this guy for admitting to fault, & I stand by him in his stance against the league. I think every player needs to be equally evaluated thoroughly from their teams physicians or whomever, as they (the players) are easily susceptible to any pain medication which unfortunately will more likely result in more addiction problems. The NFL has a wide range of controlled substances that may get the smallest of players to the biggest (ie 6’8, 350lbs+), addicted. Addiction is growing by the day & when it’s not “controlled” as it should be, this is probably one player out of “many” that ultimately must endure the consequences. Perhaps emphasizing more on this matter & actually “controlling” any substance can at least lower the percentage of players falling into this category.
    Addiction is deadly as your tolerance grows!!

  27. badintent says: Jun 24, 2012 3:06 AM

    yo keepounding: I stand on my feet for 8-10 hours bartending, I take my Advil when I go home , AND I DON’T MIX booze with it ! Not Brett Favre or any other stupidass NFF player that has a FREE team doctor to provide Free medicine. Ray is a pathetic whiner. All he needs is 3 weeks in Marine Boot camp in Pemberton, Ca. The Drill Instructors take out the losers for a nice 15 mile walk in 100+ degree heat with a 50 pound pack , and when they can’t keep up, they leave them there. The vultures strip off the rotting fresh, keeping America CLEAN

  28. mwindle1973 says: Jun 24, 2012 5:49 AM

    Judging by the posts on here tonight, there are a lot of readers who aren’t very happy with themselves. I find that often people that are miserable want everyone else to be miserable too. Especially people that they perceive to have an “easy” life. THose people, in their view, should never complain or stand up for their rights just because they are rich or have a “easy” job. I’d like to see one of these blowhards be able to put out like a pro football players does. THey act like it’s spending a day in kindergarten.

  29. realfootballfan says: Jun 24, 2012 6:06 PM

    You guys are missing the point that the over-critical Lucas posters are trying to make, rich men playing a kids game for alot of money, which means the NFL is not responsible for anything.

    In that context, of course none of the moronic posters defending the NFL having dangerous addictive drugs as a foundation of their actual medical treatment (you know, with real doctors and everything) to players have any sympathy for these people.

    Apparently, in their world, if you’re paid enough money, you should just shut up and not complain about anything wrong that happens to you due to their negligence or incompetence.

  30. reeves504 says: Jun 25, 2012 3:08 PM

    I want to start by saying that if you are publically going to comment on a condition–get your facts right! Tolerance and addiction are two separate issues. Tolerance happens with all sorts of medication… for example anti-depressants even. Your body becomes used to the drug… When this happens you don’t want to stop the drug all at once or you will experience withdrawal. And it also means that in some cases when narcotics are used to treat pain, after a while a higher dose is needed to get the same relief. For many people with chronic pain this problem levels off once the optimal dose if found.

    With addiction, along with the developing a tolerance, there are a host of other issues. Among those is the fact that you get “high”. Now when you are in pain and taking these medications you get pain relief only! You don’t get high. The reason… the drug acts on a different part of the brain than it would for a person not in pain. That’s not to say a person with pain can’t get high…if they take enough—much more than prescribed—I’m sure they can.
    The facts are though (medical studies show) that the chances of a person with chronic pain becoming addicted when using opiate therapy, as prescribed, to relieve their pain is extremely low.

    Now, Lucas commented that he wanted to “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.” A person getting treated for pain is only going to get a certain number of pills to take so upping the number would just result in them running out of medication before they can get a refill. So apparently he was getting around this somehow…and getting more than was prescribed.

    Also, several comments have commended him for taking responsibility for his addiction. But while he states that he takes responsibility for his addiction… at the same time he blames the NFL for getting him hooked in the first place. That doesn’t sound like taking responsibility.

    Now I’m glad he is getting the help he needs to deal with his addiction. But there are millions of people who suffer with chronic pain who can be helped by these drugs. Yet many don’t get the care they need because, in part, to all the misinformation about them. And articles such as this one… that contains only part of the picture, as well as just outright misinformation, just add to the problem. Every time misinformation about these drugs and their use for pain is publicized those of us who need these drugs to have any quality of life pay the price.

    To close, I want to emphasis that these drugs can be used effectively and safely—under a doctor’s care. They give people with pain a chance to have a life. And I’m one of those individuals. Without opiate therapy I would have no quality of life– I would be bedridden. Because of this treatment I went from needing a walker to get around…to a cane… to none at all. And I lost the 30lbs I put on when I could barely do anything due to severe pain. And I have never gotten “high”.

    Lorraine

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