UB Law Alumnus, Professor File Class-Action Complaint Against NFL
University of Baltimore School of Law alumnus Steven Silverman, J.D. ’91, is the lead attorney in a class-action complaint filed on behalf of more than 750 former NFL players—a lawsuit that has sparked a national story. The suit claims that players were illegally provided painkillers without prescriptions or proper supervision in order to keep them on the field during important games. The NFL has denied the charges. Professor Phillip Closius is also representing the plaintiffs.
Closius and Silverman appeared on NBC's TODAY show on June 18, with former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who said he and other NFL players were misled by the league about the painkillers he said were used to keep them playing despite injuries.
"I was involved in a lot of these allegations," McMahon said in the TODAY interview. Then he added: "Well, they're not allegations. They actually happened."
The NFL issued a comment to the TODAY show: "We are very confident that the professionalism and commitment of our team medical staffs, combined with the protection of an experienced labor union ensures that NFL players receive timely, expert and appropriate care."
Asked what he thought of the statement, McMahon said: "I think it's a bunch of B.S. We didn't get timely and appropriate care back then."
McMahon retired 17 years ago.
Closius and Silverman previously appeared on the TODAY show on May 22 with two former NFL players, Ron Pritchard and J.D. Hill, who are also plaintiffs in the suit.
In a May 22 segment on MSNBC, Silverman said that NFL players enter the league trusting their doctors to do what’s best for their health. Continued Silverman: "[B]ut if the doctor’s loyalty is to the league and lets a guy go out on the field who should either have surgery or be on bed rest, and instead pumps them with full-body narcotics and painkillers and he goes out and severely injures a body part that’s already injured and has permanent injury for the rest of his life, that’s a serious problem.”
On ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning on May 22, Silverman noted that the class action is directed toward the NFL rather than at individual teams. In preparing the case, he said, he and Closius interviewed close to 700 former players. "We’ve reviewed hundreds of former players’ medical records and what you have is … a systemic problem going through the entire league,” Silverman said. “It’s not just one rogue team or one rogue trainer; it’s all throughout the league.”
The complaint, filed May 20, 2014, in District Court in San Francisco, has received national media attention. Articles or programs have appeared in the following outlets: