With some teams choking off the supply of Toradol, a non-narcotic, non-addictive medication that allows players to play through pain, players are using something else, right?
Maybe. But many are still getting their hands on Toradol.
Per a league source, a significant number of players have gotten Toradol through other means, including prescriptions from doctors not affiliated with their teams. As a result, many of these players are injecting themselves with Toradol before games. (Some are taking it in other forms.)
This approach, planned or not by the league, is more effective than any Wikipedia-citing waiver the players could ever sign. With the league now worried that possible long-term side effects arising from extensive Toradol use could provide the next wave of post-career player litigation/supplemental retirement income, slamming the door to players who crave Toradol and forcing them to get it on their own gives the league virtual immunity.
Meanwhile, the NFL benefits from the ability to players to suit up and play when the pain otherwise may have kept them from performing.
The situation cries out for a more comprehensive effort by the NFL and the NFLPA to address the issue of pain management. It’s one thing to care about the safety of players; it’s quite another to care about (or even acknowledge) the things they do to play injured.
The concussion culture, which for decades has prompted players to shrug at getting their “bell rung” arises from the deeper-seated notion that real men find a way to get on the field, no matter what. You can’t make the club, as many a coach has said, in the tub.
At the NFL level, the stakes are incredibly high. Players typically adopt a lifestyle that reflects their financial means. Inability to play eventually threatens that lifestyle. So they’ll do what they believe they need to do in order to continue to earn an NFL salary.
It therefore becomes imperative for the league and the union to find the safest strategies available for helping a player deal with pain. Recently, there has been a quiet push to drop marijuana from the substance-abuse policy, since plenty of players use it after games as a pain-management device.
With marijuana recently legalized in Washington and Colorado for recreational use, it’s about time the NFL realizes that letting guys smoke pot may be the most effective way to help them deal with the wear and tear of playing football — especially if Toradol and other potent medications should be used sparingly or not at all.