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Don Shula accused of forcing players to take painkillers to remain on club

Miami Dolphins legendary coach Don Shula has been named in a lawsuit alleging NFL teams pushed painkillers on players.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A group of former NFL players have filed a lawsuit in the US Northern District of Maryland alleging all 32 teams, including the team doctors, medical staff, and coaches, illegally provided the players painkillers. The lawsuit, which is similar to a case that was dismissed by a judge in the US Northern District of California in December, was filed Thursday according to a report from the Associated Press.

The new case, filed on behalf of 13 former players, lists all 32 teams as individual defendants, and alleges some coaches, to include former Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, would tell players they would be cut from the team if they did not take the painkillers and keep playing.

The lawsuit contends "NFL teams and their medical staffs withheld information from players about the nature and seriousness of their injuries, while at the same time handing out prescription painkillers, anti-inflammatories and other dangerous drugs to mask pain and minimize lost playing time."  They also contend prescriptions were filled in their names without their knowledge.

"This lawsuit alleges intentional activity by the teams, not negligence," attorney Steve Silverman told the AP after he filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 13 players. "It's another part of a unified effort to provide health care and compensation to the thousands of former players who have been permanently injured or died as a result of playing professional football."

Along with Shula, former Detroit Lions coach Wayne Fontes and former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren were also specifically named in the lawsuit as coaches who threatened to cut players.