On Sunday, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" broke news of Drug Enforcement Administration agents made surprise visits to a number of NFL locker rooms investigating the possibility of medical and training staffs violated federal law in terms of dispensing prescription painkillers. The investigation stems from lawsuit from several former NFL players alleging that team doctors administered painkillers improperly in an attempt to rush players back on the field.
"I think it's great that the DEA is taking this seriously," plaintiff attorney Phil Closius told ESPN. "We alleged back on May 20 that the NFL was issuing these controlled substances and prescription medicines in an illegal manner, and nobody has really disputed the factual basis of that claim."
Spokesmen for the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks - three teams that played road games across state lines on Sunday - acknowledged that DEA agents interviewed team personnel on Sunday, but they and the NFL indicated they had nothing to worry about.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, doctors cannot give players prescription drugs like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin outside of the facilities where they are registered with the DEA to prescribe those controlled substances, and trainers are not permitted under the federal drug laws to ever provide prescription medications to players.
But according to a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of Sunday's inspections, the DEA has reason to believe those laws are frequently violated, particularly by visiting NFL teams.
"NFL doctors are not obtaining a separate registration where they are administering controlled substances to NFL players. They are administering in different states and treating players at hotels and stadiums outside of their registered location with the DEA," the source said.
You can click here to read more on the investigation, but we want college coaches to be aware that if such investigations can occur in the NFL, it can happen in college football, too. If the DEA catches, for instance, State School X improperly prescribing painkillers in Bowl Game Y, it could absolutely ruin the career of any coaches involved.
Make sure your house is in order and, more importantly, make sure no one in your program is violating federal drug laws.