Falcons' Use of Painkillers Scrutinized

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


HOUSTON -- In May 2010, the Falcons became so concerned about the "excessive" reliance on painkillers by players that the issue eventually reached the desk of owner Arthur Blank, a recent court filing said.

A string of emails containing the information was entered into a California court record last Thursday as part of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed by more than 1,800 former NFL players, who claim NFL teams fostered an atmosphere that led to the abuse of painkillers with little regard for their long-term health.

Some of the emails went from Falcons trainer Marty Lauzon to general manager Thomas Dimitroff to Blank, who then had president Rich McKay handle the matter.

One email concerned the review by an outside agency that found the team spent $81,000 on prescriptions for medications for players in 2009, nearly three times the league average, according to a Tuesday report by the Associated Press.

"That's being litigated now. That's not something we're going discuss right now," Dimitroff said on Monday night when asked about the emails. "When the time is right, we'll readdress that."

The team reiterated it would not comment on the matter on Tuesday.

In the wake of the episode, the Falcons switched team doctors, bringing in Dr. Spero Karas, an orthopedic surgeon at the Emory Sports Medicine Center in August 2011. Dr. Jeffrey Webb, also of Emory, was also hired as consulting physician.

Dr. Scott Gillogly was the team's previous doctor. He also was the team doctor for the NHL Atlanta Thrashers.

The case is being heard in the Northern District of California by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup. The same allegations were originally filed in a 2014 class-action lawsuit that is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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February 1, 2017


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