Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice is among a handful of coaches singled out in a new lawsuit filed by retired players over the use of prescription painkillers by NFL teams.
The Associated Press reports the lawsuit claims all 32 NFL teams conspired to provide prescription painkillers to injured players – sometimes illegally – to keep them on the field without regard to their long-term health.
The teams and their medical staffs allegedly failed to tell players about the seriousness of their injuries and in some cases filled out prescriptions in players' names without their knowledge, the suit contends.
The AP says Tice is among a handful of coaches and assistants who allegedly told players they would be cut from their teams unless they took the painkillers and returned to the field.
The Washington Post reports the plaintiffs are all former players, with one exception: Etopia Evans is the widow of former Viking Chuck Evans, who died of heart failure at the age of 41 in 2008.
According to the Post, the lawsuit contends Evans developed an addiction to painkillers during his football career and blames that addiction for Evans' failure to make child support payments. Evans died while serving a jail sentence for his lack of support payments.
Evans' eight NFL seasons included six with the Vikings – ending in 1998, when he was the starting fullback on a team that went 15-1 and set an NFL scoring record.
Tice became an assistant with the Vikings in 1996 and was later head coach for four full seasons beginning in 2002.
An NFL spokesman told the Post the league was reviewing the lawsuit, but noted its similarity to a suit that was dismissed by a federal court last December.