At a time then some in the media would wag their fingers at players who try to get more money for the risks they assume, here’s another example of why players should get what they can, when they can, however they can.
Former Packers cornerback Craig Newsome battled through a variety of serious and less-serious-but-still nasty injuries during his career, emerging with an addiction to painkillers.
“You’d get on the plane and they’re handing out beer and pills,” Newsome tells Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “It’s like, ‘OK, party time.’ Really. Every player that is either asking for them or says, ‘This is hurting.’ It’s like ‘OK, here’s a bag of them.'”
Dunne chronicles the various scars on Newsome’s body. He has tiger-claw scars on his chest from Jerry Rice’s cleat, which got under Newsome’s shoulder pads. He has a scar on each knee — one from a torn ACL in 1997 and one from hitting the turf so hard in 1998 that he could see bone.
The worst comes from a trio of “trashed” discs in his back, which sparked an addiction that spawned doctor-shopping and ultimately forged prescriptions.
“You know it’s completely wrong what you’re doing,” Newsome said of his efforts to get more and more pills. “But it’s telling you, ‘Do it, do it, do it.’ You need it. ‘Get it, get it, get it.’ It’s like, ‘OK, [expletive] it.’ Then you walk in there and you’re on pins and needles. You’re watching him and seeing if he’s going to get it. You just want to get in and get out.
“Freaking get out of Dodge and have your little stash. It’s the same old routine.”
And it’s the same old routine for many other former players. With head injuries becoming the focal point when it comes to the men who made the game what it now is, it’s important to remember that plenty of them have a far wider range of afflictions.
Yes, they signed up for it. Yes, they gladly assumed the risk. Yes, they would do it again.
But it underscores the fact that any of the current players who can put the squeeze on their teams and get paid should do it, any way they can.