Craig Newsome fights painkiller addiction

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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.

7 responses to “Craig Newsome fights painkiller addiction

  1. My spine is collapsing and this all began with I was 36. After multiple surgeries I still battle chronic pain everyday of my life. I am prescribed painkillers and take them exactly as prescribed. If I didn’t have access(prescriptions from my doctor) my life wounldnt be worth living. Pain can be managed as long as you don’t abuse the drugs.

  2. One of the most jarring lines is the “get on the plane, get a beer and bag of pills” line – especially when you consider the time frame and how it affected Favre.

  3. “…here’s another example of why players should get what they can, when they can, however they can”
    That is one of the most irresponsible comments I have seen from those that contribute to this site. That is precisely the attitude that will eventually destroy everything it is applied to. I feel for the guy but the NFL did not get him addicted to painkillers. His mental make-up and genetic pre-disposition did. Granted, injuries started the ball rolling but he is ultimately the one responsible for this. It is tough to deal with but to suggest that he would be justified in suing the league for whatever reason is unethical.

  4. I’ve been on pain meds 24/7 for 5 years for chonic pain. Once a year I wean myself off them for 10 days to make them more effective once again without having to raise the dosage.

    Be responsible and most will never get addicted. Without them I would have checked out long ago. No reason to live in pain when we have the means to get it under control. Abusers screw it up for everyone that is legit.

  5. Craig Newsome, if you’re reading this, I’m a fan and I would think all Packer Fans will be stepping up to show you we care. We didn’t know about your situation and recovery, and now, reading about your strong self control to overcome addiction, we all wish you the best. I’ll be watching your story. We all will. I think the Packers Org should bring you to Lambeau so we can all give you some cheers. We don’t even need a reason or some made up award.

  6. And you still have people getting mad at players for trying to get as much as they can for playing body hurts and I only played high school ball so I can only imaging how they feel.

  7. Get well, Craig. Packer nation is pulling for you. The fact that he’s talking about it publicly is a good sign that he can pull through.

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