Tony Boselli: Players know the risks, shouldn’t sue the NFL

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The news that former players are suing the NFL over the effects of painkillers they were given by team doctors doesn’t sit well with former Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli.

Boselli, a five-time Pro Bowler who was just elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, told CBS Sports Radio’s The Morning Show that everyone who plays football understands there are risks. Boselli said his own sons play football, and he thinks there are simply some risks that football players have to accept as part of the game.

“My whole thing about the concussion [lawsuit] is I question some of the guys in it and why they were in it – because we do know the risks,” Boselli said. “I thought whatever money was gotten from that lawsuit should go to the guys who really need it – the guys who have dementia, the guys who have ALS, debilitating injuries. Listen, we play the game. We know it’s risky. If any of us who played [says], ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that my body was not going to be the same the rest of my life,’ then you’re lying to yourself and everyone else, in my opinion.”

Boselli says he took painkillers when he was a player, and that was a choice that he made, knowing the risks associated with using painkillers but also knowing the huge rewards of being a millionaire professional athlete.

“I’m not saying the NFL has no responsibility,” he said. “But I would put most of the responsibility on the players ourselves – because we chose to play the game. We knew the risk. We chose to take pain pills. I took pain pills. I took Toradol. I did those things. No one made me do them. I wanted to be on the field. Was there pressure to be on the field? Sure, it’s a job – just like the guy who’s waking up this morning, there’s pressure to go perform at his job so he can provide for his family. The biggest difference is we were compensated in a very nice way.”

The players suing over painkillers, however, say they were misled by the very team doctors who were supposed to be keeping them safe. Those players say they didn’t know the full extent of the risks.

67 responses to “Tony Boselli: Players know the risks, shouldn’t sue the NFL

  1. Finally a great player weighs in on these suits A real Pro’s Pro! Preach it, Tony!!!

    Unless the former players are unable to read or write they KNOW the risks of medications they take.

  2. How can you disagree with him? These players knew they were getting pain injections to cover up a problem so they could get back onto the field and play injured.

    Its not the NFLs fault that you did that so you wouldnt lose your check on your own volition. The team doc didnt hold you down and inject you against your will.

  3. So Boselli knows the risks, but I highly doubt everybody else did. Besides, just knowing the risks isn’t an absolute exemption for employers that break the law, especially in situations where there is lying and/or negligence and/or incompetence. And nobody is asking the NFL to take 100% responsibility, they are only asking for a reasonable amount of money to make things right and cover the portion of their responsibility that they didn’t meet. They are only being asked to pay for the illegal and improper stuff.

  4. “Side effects may include rashes, liver damage, loss of memory, suicidal thought and sudden death. Do not take ____ if you are overweight, have kidney disease or have ever had chicken pox. Consult your doctor before taking ____.”

    ~Every pill commercial on TV.

  5. Most football players aren’t very bright. If they were, they wouldn’t be taking these pills without doing their own due diligence.

    If a doctor gives you a prescription and says this will help your pain, do you take it no questions asked?

    Most people would do their own research before taking said drug. There are also plenty of resources for these players to use whether its google, webmd, independent doctor, drug forums, and so on.

    Taking painkillers is one thing; but taking painkillers without thinking of the repercussions is their own fault.

  6. Well theirs always a double standard. Players do have to accept the risks and choices they made for their profession . Same thing with the Military. However the NFL has some responsibility too for better equipment, research and benefits for those who gave their lives playing this game. The divide is you cant have one thing without the other.

  7. Finally, a former player who isn’t just a greedy tool looking to cash in for something he was well aware of 20 years ago

  8. Truth! You don’t see former military suing. Being responsible means either managing your money yourself or use firms that the NFL & all teams provide. Not having unlimited amounts of homes, cars & children. It means not taking out $100K loans for birthday parities like V Young. Enjoy the moment knowing all careers end and then using your connections for a second career in broadcasting, coaching, business et al.

    The reason 70% of retired players are broke is do to their own fault 100%; not others. If you don’t like leaches-family or not- get the police involved just like the Cowboy’s stud OT had to do.

    And if you really have to pay people to be your ‘possy’ then you should get some self esteem.

  9. .

    Headline : Boselli appoints himself as spokesman for all NFL players, past and present.


  10. The League is headed for rough waters and the salad days of the NFL, as far as the product on the field, is over. Boselli is right, but he is the rare breed of decent human being.

    Everyone else will come with their hand out and the lawyers will win. No one else.

  11. Man, these guys in the 80’s didn’t have the internet… They didn’t have a place they could do their own research… They had to take the word & advise of their trainers & doctors… How can you say these guys knew the damage they were doing to their organs/bodies?

  12. He is right.

    We can thank the lawsuits of these players (those who have sued and are currently suing the NFL) for the rules we see currently being enforced in the game. You know the ones, they are those which everyone whines about from their couch, and log onto various websites to rant and rage about.

    If it weren’t for those lawsuits, the NFL wouldn’t have to employ and enforce rules that ensure they don’t have to pay for lawsuits. It’s sad really. The players which made the game are the ones who are contributing to its evolution into something we complain about every time we watch it. And for what? So they can have more money?

    Tony is right. Every person that plays the game of football goes into every game knowing they might get rocked. They all know the risk. It’s crazy to allow them to sue for long-term injuries sustained while playing. That’s like allowing a moron who spills their morning coffee on their lap and burning themselves, to sue McDonald’s, because the cup wasn’t labeled “HOT!”

  13. Idiot.

    That is NOT how it works. Just “knowing the risks” isn’t enough.

    First, it is not always clear that the risks are known. If the true nature of the risks are being covered up, either fully or partially, by the employer, they are liable.

    Second, there is just a base level of humanity, legality, and decency that applies. It has always been this way in America. Until now that is.

    What … a … moron.

  14. There’s fault on both sides.
    Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
    That’s how players think. They’ll do almost anything to get on the field because they don’t want the replacement player taking their job.
    On the other side, team trainers and physicians should be ashamed knowing the hazards of narcotics.
    This will go the route of the concussion settlement and ultimately cost all of us fans a few extra bucks.

  15. He is quite right, they know the liabilities when they sign their contract, so now after the event they are suing?? I think it’s disgraceful and some of them are probably broke now, that’s why they are doing it.
    Everyone knows football is dangerous, if you don’t want to get “roughed up” don’t play.

  16. Finally someone with the guts to speak the truth.

    Many kids use football to get a college education, get out of a terrible life situation, or simply the love of the game.

    None of the mentioned above were dumb enough to think that their weren’t risks involved. We have all seen the horror stories of people getting paralyzed or some other life threatening injury happen.

    However, we still let our kids play. We choose not to think about it and pray or have the mentality that it will never happen to our kids. My son plays, he is 7….I weighed the risks. My conclusion was trying to keep him away from football wasn’t worth the enjoyment of playing the game.

    The majority of the greatest times in my life, were playing sports. Not just performing, but maybe even more so, the relationships I enjoyed as much as anything. Throughout my life constantly you run into someone and instantly go back to that place in time.

    If I was told that I could die or be permanently injured doing these things; I would do them again without hesitation. It’s called life….living.

    Most people who played, the coach or trainer could have told you that you might die if you don’t sit out, and I along with others would have told the coach to let me go back in.

    Sports creates that mind-set good or bad. I choose to think GOOD. The NFL has gotten so big that it has opened itself up to everything bad “society” or “corporate America” has to offer today.

    Which are…everyone wins…it’s not your fault….someone else did this to you…you should be compensated…every single thing has to be scrutinized and over analyzed.

    The NFL might have hid some things, and I don’t take all the blame from them. Some type of long-term health care should be provided. But these guys knew the risks. It’s no different from a guy getting a motorcycle, working on a oil rig, driving in NASCAR, or playing football.

    Please America…stop blaming everything on everyone else. Especially when there are $$$ involved.

  17. Thank you, Tony.

    I’m getting sick of all these former NFL players acting like they are innocent little kids that had no idea what they were doing. It’s just sad to see how low we’ve come as a society to become so sue-happy.

  18. He states it pretty plainly – either you knew the risks of those drugs or you didn’t.


    If you took these drugs knowing that you were doing so to numb yourself from the pain so you could keep playing – what case do you have?

  19. Sooooo how many times have we seen players get a second opinion from an outside DR and the team goes absolutely nuts about it and has a hissy fit… many times have players wanted to rehab with THEIR own people or get in shape with their own people and the teams fine them etc…..the system is set up so they see the TEAM doctors…..Drs are by definition the EXPERTS! That’s why you goto a doctor so they can tell you what’s wrong and prescribe the CORRECT remedy……now everyone wants to say it’s on the players? How many times have any of you faught a prescription your doc gave you? So because the players TRUST the doctor, like they SHOULD….it’s on the players? Just stop! Docs get sued all the time for malpractice…..these particular docs and trainers work for the team and have a conflict of interest therefore the team is complicit….which makes the league complicit…..boselli is right in SOME cases lawsuits are just a money grab…..on the other hand if a doc was handing out prescriptions illegally then the other players have a case… the 70’s and 80’s the info was not readily available especially when it comes to concussions…..hell in the last 5 years is when concussion research was put in the public eye… you trust the experts….no different than if a company told it’s workers back in the day that radiation isn’t that harmful and then you catch cancer…..the company is liable!

  20. Does he sound like someone trying to get a job on the NFL Network to you?

    The NFL is a big boy outfit. They’ll take care of themselves. Players and Ex-Players need to mind their business and let the market decide. This is not a morality play. It is about leverage. Who has it and use it or lose it. Players are going after the NFL for money because they think they have leverage … a league suddenly defensive and “worried” about the player’s safety. It’s a negotiation and if the Ex Player is right, he pockets some money. If not, so be it. Either way, the attorney is paid.

    It’s called capitalism, not Peyton’s Place

  21. Even health professionals don’t always know what the longterm effects will be on many meds so how are football players suppose to know better than those administering to them on the sidelines. Most fans assume (not always wisely) that medicine is an exact science and doctors know everything…which, they don’t. Anytime a person puts any kind of chemical in their body for whatever the ailment, there are risks but usually the risks are outweighed by the benefits. When your career is on the line as the expectation is that you work through the pain, sometimes the risks seem worth accomplishing the task at hand. Fans expect players to win Championships at all costs and then get ugly when the player wants to compensated just the same as Joe Public. A fan who has a head injury at work expects compensation from his employer, or if he has non
    reversable effects from taking a drug will sue the pharmaceutical company, sometimes the physician, and if it was a company physician will sue the company too; it’s the American way! Football players are entitled to the same treatment and fans need to get over the fact that players make more money…that’s the real issue here, plain old envy!

  22. Guy is obviously a honest person, not like the majority of people today that are looking for a handout. And we all know who those people are!

  23. It’s easier for a guy who got $17,000,000 GUARANTEED on HIS ROOKIE CONTRACT (not for his career) to take this stance.

  24. Listened to a good interview with Boselli on local radio in Jax on the commute home yesterday.

    He made a very point. The players made the decision. The players knew the risk. The players were represented collectively and at no time did the union express fight to stop the use of Toradol or other pain killers to help a player stay on the field.

    There is no way the individual players can logically state that they didn’t know and the union didn’t know the risks.

    The players should be looking at themselves first and then at their union on this issue.

  25. So many fans seem to be weighing in on these lawsuits as if they even understand what the athletes have experienced over their careers. This isn’t Judge Judy. There are legitimate ethical health and safety issues that may serve as precedent for the sport’s future. Unless you’ve played in the NFL, you have no basis for an opinion.

  26. Not all of these guys made millions playing but they all knew the risk. Even if they did not know the exact risk of a particular medicine or injection, they still knew there were risks. I remember as far back as the 1980’s that players knew from other former players that they put themselves at risk and played anyway. This trend of not being responsible for your own decisions is beyond irritating for those of us who do take responsibility.

  27. It’s not fair that we ask these men to destroy their bodies for our love of this game. They get paid a lot of money, yes. But anyone who knows anyone with kidney failure knows that the medical bills from dialysis, immunosuppressant drugs, and kidney transplants could wipe out their entire income from the sport. All because they trusted the doctor to get them back out onto the field. Anyone who thinks, well those are the risks, has little to no respect for human life. Sorry but you don’t. Those are dads, sons, brothers, and husbands out there and just because they get to fulfill our childhood dreams doesn’t mean they also should live out our worst nightmares.

  28. The irony of this is that the ‘toughest’ players, the ones most willing to put their body on the line, and therefore take painkillers, are the same ones who were rewarded with big, fat contracts for the very same thing they are now suing for.

    Brett Favre: Indestructible, never misses a game, long streak. Yes, pain killer enhanced, and he became addicted.

    And he was paid handsomely for it. If he didn’t take the pain killers, he would have retired a long time ago. AND NOT BEEN PAID.

    That’s the irony. These players have ALREADY been paid for taking pain killers.

  29. He says that players know the risks and shouldn’t sue.

    Then he says money from the concussion settlement should go to people with problems. Which implies he agrees with getting some money out of the NFL – as long as it goes to people who are injured.

  30. It sucks that Boselli got injured so badly halfway through his career as he was an easy guy to be a fan off. The man was a beast on the field but seemed to have his act together when in the real world.

  31. Boselli is absolutely right.. Football players suing the NFL over damages that may have been done to them because of the game is the equivalent of a life-long smoker filing a lawsuit against Marlboro..

    Both instances are equally ridiculous. You played the game. You knew the risk. Deal with the consequences.

    Otherwise, get a 9-5 like everyone else and don’t worry about your brain getting knocked in.

  32. Wow, look at all those upvotes. Basically, Tony is 100% correct, and there are a couple of people who aren’t smart enough to accept genuine logic when they hear it.

    Players know the risks, and take money to face those risks, up to and including debilitating, life altering injuries and in rare cases life shortening trauma . . . for millions and millions of dollars.
    When alot of these people would be making less than 20k a year, that makes alot of sense to people.

    Just like it is also many NFL’ers fault they don’t save their money and wind up sob stories two years after leaving the NFL, the injury issue is completely on the player’s heads. The NFL should be allowed to simply give the players a waiver to sign including all injuries and possible injuries that may result from football and the treatments for injuries, and let that be that.

    Then maybe we can get rid of the stupid no contact rules developed the last couple of years that try to take the violence out of an INHERENTLY VIOLENT SPORT.
    If you dont like that, go play another safer sport, sure you wont get paid as much . . . BUT IT WILL BE SAFER.

  33. This is a comment from a player who invested his money in businesses instead of buying “tricked out” cars and a house that without football is not affordable. Good for you Tony for being an honest man.

  34. autoriot says:
    May 23, 2014 12:38 PM
    Tony is right. Every person that plays the game of football goes into every game knowing they might get rocked. They all know the risk. It’s crazy to allow them to sue for long-term injuries sustained while playing. That’s like allowing a moron who spills their morning coffee on their lap and burning themselves, to sue McDonald’s, because the cup wasn’t labeled “HOT!”

    The McDonald’s coffee ordeal is NOT the same as this. If you read that case, you’ll see that McDonald’s had been sued numerous times and the settled over and over again (over the course of 10 years), because their coffee was too hot. The coffee left 3rd degree burns on that person’s legs. 3rd degree. She had skin grafts and scarring. That is too hot. Experts said so. McDonald’s admitted it. She actually offered to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000. McDonald’s refused and only offered her $800, just like they refused to make changes to their coffee for so many years, so this woman made an example out of them. Good for her, I say. Read the case.

    That being said, this whole thing with football players looks like one big money grab. Some of these players probably see the big bucks that the guys nowadays are making and think, “I want some of that.” Everyone knows the risks of taking medications. They’re DRUGS. There is no “miracle pill” that makes you feel better and has zero side effects. If the players can prove that the doctors straight up lied to them and now they’re experiencing major medical problems, then they might have a case. But I’m willing to bet that isn’t the case for most of these guys.

    If you spend your entire life smashing your head, shoulders, and nearly every other part of your body into other people, and take a boatload of medications to make yourself temporarily feel better, chances are you’re going to have at least one or two medical problems later on.

  35. its true. its nice to hear. the truth is these kids would sign waivers to play. its the NFL. you get a chance to get paid as much as the President just to sit the bench.

    how would you not know the risks here. you are ramming your head into a freaking wall for a good 10 years. but you also did it in pee wee, you did it in high school, you did it in college. don’t come suing the NFL, the league that made you, for something like that

    we need more like Tony.

  36. skinsrock, strategyexpert and a few others here are more right than Tony.

    Tony makes some really great points, and 1) was compensated much more “nicely” than most players 2) is possibly smarter than many of his peers 3) is dead wrong to generalize that all players “knew the risks” about concussions. (First cases of football related CTE, and what that really entails, were publicized AFTER Toni retired .) He’s hands down dead wrong.

    Its a C- take for someone with his background. Maybe a “D” for being dead wrong about the concussion part, and the consequences of having that wrong.

    Yeah, all players knew the risk -that you could be a paraplegic on any play, or blow out a knee forever. BUT – They didn’t know when they “had their bell rung” they created ” large aggregations of tau protein, neurofibrillary tangles and neuropil.” Others “played through pain” because they were unscrupulously told there’s a difference between “pain” and “injury,” not always realizing they were creating more and more damage that could then never heal properly.

    Sorry if my take doesn’t please you. Rub some dirt on it, and thumbs down me. There. Nothing wrong with your thinking. You’ll be fine.

  37. I must have missed the small-print in the Hippocratic oath: help your patient, unless it hurts your team.

    Go ahead and vote it down, meatheads. Read the report. If you went to a doctor with a broken leg and they gave you pills instead of the surgery you need FOR YEARS, I’m sure you would only blame yourself, right?

  38. The players know what can happen to their body’s from playing football, I don’t think the Nfl does a good enough job explaining what all these meds really can and WILL do to you. I mean considering that anything the player buy on their owned is a banned substance, they trust team doctors give them w.e. it is that’s “legal”. Especially 20-30 years ago when I’m POSITIVE players didn’t know the extent of the side affects of the meds were. The Nfl is about winning, coaches, team doctors,and the rest of the Nfl turn their heads to these issues because they know at the end of the day, its about winning now or you lose your job. Bosselli you’re a clown.

  39. Most of the people how disagree with Tony are probably ultra Liberals, lawyers or Union ticks. To many people today will do or say anything for a dollar, no one has a self respect, so sad and embarrassing.

  40. Soooooo your telling me that even though these athletes make/made MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of dollars thorugh their careers, they could not spare 10,000/a year, or every couple years for their own doctor to inform them of the medicine that they are getting from the team, just in case it may be harmful to them down the road?!? Even if they did take the pain killers to aleviate from whatever ailment they have, they are still making MILLIONS of dollars over their career, and if they were SMART they would have saved half the money they made, not needing 10 bdrm mansions when they have no kids or spouse?!? or getting the newest flashiest car thats out there…all that is WASTEFUL money that they could have right now, using for their post career issues. I am a diehard NFL Fan and current ACTIVE DUTY member of the military and i only make roughly 50K a year, so it bothers me when former players sue the NFL for money.

  41. Tony Boselli is now one of my favorite players! Finally some former player has a brain and isn’t a bankrupt drug addict. Seriously though, you get paid millions of dollars to get the crap beat out of you every Sunday, while the rest of us work 40+hrs a week and the majority of people make less than 6 figures. The truth is that NFL players are idiots and don’t have any common sense on simple life necessities such as balancing a checkbook. Just because you burned through all your money doesn’t give you the right to make up a frivolous law suit.
    #Tony Boselli Is a Genius
    #NFL Law Suits are a joke!!

  42. Bravo Tony, you sir are speaking the truth. Finally, a player taking some personal responsibility for their actions… Bravo.

  43. If you guys think there is a morality issue here, that the league is hard done by, you are bewitched.
    look at how the league treated James Harrisson. Played the same way for his career. Made him the Defensive Player of the year. Then, when the league got all nervous about their liability in these lawsuit scenarios, they throw James under the bus. No more DPOY, now James is a cheap shot dirty player.

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