Like college, NFL has no pain-killer policy

People responsible for the health and healing of NFL players take their work very seriously. There are separate, long-standing national associations for doctors and trainers who work for NFL teams.

But, like major college football, the NFL has no official policy on painkillers.

NFL officials, however, say the league monitors the medical staffs of its 32 teams. Apparently, league owners think such surveys are important for health and safety reasons - and to protect their investment in well-paid players.

NFL teams are private organizations and not subject to Freedom of Information Act laws that required public universities to provide The Post and Courier records of drug distribution to football players. But there is virtually no doubt the NFL typically gives more painkilling injections per team on game days than most college squads.

"I'd say that is probably so," said USC Director of Sports Medicine John Kasik, who has worked in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks and for the Colts before they moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis.

A league official told The Post and Courier that the NFL "carefully keeps track of" how much medication "of all kinds" is dispensed by each team year-round.

"Football is a rough game," former Clemson cornerback and quarterback Dexter McCleon told the New York Times while playing for the St. Louis Rams in 2002. "These shots are a necessity. If it wasn't for these shots, a lot of guys, I mean hundreds of guys, wouldn't be able to play every week. I would say half the teams in football wouldn't have enough guys to play on Sunday if it wasn't for those needles."

- Gene Sapakoff

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