Amidst the current controversy surrounding the use of painkillers in the NFL, Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune reports that Bears LB Brian Urlacher called the newspaper Tuesday to discuss his use of the substance Toradol, as documented on HBO's Real Sports.
Urlacher told the paper that his rehab from a sprained knee is coming along fine, but he will still have to miss out on the Pro Bowl as a result. If it had been a playoff game of actual significance as opposed to the Pro Bowl, Urlacher may well have resorted to Toradol again as he did during last year's postseason, when he took shots before the Bears' games against the Seahawks and Packers.
While Urlacher said he didn't take Toradol at all this past season, he estimated he has taken it 40 to 50 times in his career. The linebacker said he only takes it as a cure for specific injury, reported no rampant use in the Bears' locker room, but did mention that he heard of more rampant use elsewhere.
"I'll take it if I have an ankle or a shoulder, but I don't just take them to take them," Urlacher was quoted as saying in the Tribune. "From what I understand, some guys just take them to take them. They take them every game because they can't play without them. I don't know anyone on our team who's like that."
These comments came in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the NFL by a dozen former players alleging that the drug can worsen high risk injuries like concussions since players will not realize how hurt they are under medication, and will continue to play, thus increasing their risk of serious injury. ESPN's Kevin Seifert made the same point in his Wednesday piece, explaining that "you should understand that pain is our body's natural warning sign to pull back and give injuries time to heal. Painkillers override that instinct but run counter to the body's healing process." Toradol also can cause clinically serious gastrointestinal bleeding, according to Drugs.com.
But for NFL players looking to maintain their place on the field, taking painkilling drugs like Toradol is an obvious choice.
"It's very prevalent," former Jets OT Damien Woody said on ESPN's SportsCenter. "Look, at the end of the day, guys want to be out there and playing for their teammates, with their teammates. You spend more time with your teammates than you do with your family almost during football season. When you don't play, it's almost like you're an outsider."