Saturday, November 17, 2012

Painkillers, Addiction and the NFL: A Year in the Spotlight

For your consideration...attribution below.

2012 has seen extensive press coverage over the use of strong painkillers within the NFL (National Football League). The coverage has been two-fold. First, in a bid to raise awareness and overcome taboo, players, including former Dolphin Ray Lucas, have spoken out about their devastating opiate-based painkiller addictions.

Second, the NFL is facing legal challenges in court over its use of Toradol. It is claimed that this drug, which is used to reduce pain and inflammation levels, has been over issued by the league.
Players challenging the NFL argue that they were pre-emptively injected with the drug, which prevented them from accurately assessing the gravity of their injuries, in turn preventing them from getting necessary medical treatment. As a result, players claim they suffered multiple, and dangerous, concussions.

Painkiller Addiction: Ray Lucas’ Story

Against the backdrop of legal challenges being brought against the NFL and heightened levels of press interest in painkiller addiction surrounding the Olympics, Ray Lucas took the brave decision to speak out. By telling his story, he hopes that others will be encouraged to get the help they need.

In an interview with HealthPop, Lucas described how he spent large sums of money and subjected his family to ‘hell on earth’ in a bid to feed his opiate painkiller addiction.  He also acknowledged how hard he found it to ask for help:

‘The hardest thing for addicts is to ask for help’, stated Lucas. ‘For me to reach that one person out there who thinks they’re alone – I thought I was’.

Lucas explained how he became addicted to painkillers. First, he took only a few painkillers. Then, as his body began to increase in tolerance, he began to take more. Prior to his back surgery, he took in excess of 120 painkillers per month.

Following his back surgery, which considerably reduced the level of physical pain Lucas experienced, the footballer believed he could stop taking opiate painkillers. Instead, however, he discovered that his body had become opiate dependent. Without the drugs, he would violently shiver and sweat.

The NFL: An Uncomfortable Parallel

Though individual players are beginning to speak out about their personal struggles with painkiller addiction, uncomfortable questions must be asked of the NFL. Can the NFL support players withdrawing from opiate addictions when injecting players with Toradol, a powerful anti-inflammatory NSAID, which some researchers believe may have addictive qualities?

Legal actions against the NFL could result massive compensation pay-outs. To date, 50 cases, involving in excess of 1,200 players, have been filed. Of these 50 cases, twelve are specific to the use of Toradol. In each case, the claim is similar. The NFL, despite knowing associated risks, purposely concealed these risks from players. This concealment resulted in repeated head injuries.

Experts believe that winning the law suits will not be easy. First, proving that NFL drug administrators were aware of associated risks will not be straightforward. Second, proving exactly when and where head injuries were sustained will be problematic; while the NFL administered the drug, linking the league to catalogues of historic injuries will pose a challenge.

Finally, and in the NFL’s favour, violence and football are integral. Though tackles to the head are banned, other forms of physical contact, which could also result in head injury, are not.
As with opiate addiction, it is the devastating impact of Toradol usage that has brought the issue into the public domain. The recent suicide of Junior Seau (San Diego Chargers) was directly linked to depression caused by recurring head injury.

Painkillers: Overuse and Addiction: Accessing Help

In their recent testimony to Congress, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians reported that US residents consume approximately 80% of globally produced opiate painkillers. Numbers of long-term Toradol users are also rising.

Recognizing that opiate addiction stretches beyond the sporting world, the society explains that patients usually develop an addiction to drugs following initial use for pain relief. When no longer able to access prescribed drugs, patients turn to internet and back street suppliers. The society highlighted the risk that rising numbers of opiate babies will be born.

Help for this wide spectrum of US residents is developing, with former Dolphin Ray Lucas, pushing it forward. A champion of Turntohelp.com, Lucas encourages those affected to seek treatment. Further, 

Lucas advocates the use of Suboxone, an anti-addiction drug which can be used, in conjunction with other treatments, to support withdrawal from opiate addiction. Additionally, there are several Florida based opiate withdrawal support services. These services include support groups, group therapy and both inpatient and outpatient opiate detox programs.

-- This piece is courtesy of Evelyn Robinson.  Post comments and responses "below the fold"

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Dullphins

Wow is this team dull!  I tried, I really tried, to watch this game.  But I snoozed through a large portion of it.  There was nothing compelling.

I suppose it doesn't help that the team went 9 quarters without an offensive TD. 

I will give some credit because it got a little interesting at the end, and Tannehill - other than two late picks - did a decent job and perhaps progressed a little (hey, a ray of hope).

But Dave Wannstedt gets the better of his old team, and the Phins drop to 4-6...

As many of you know, I don't watch this team often, but given that it was the "only game in town" on this night, I tuned in.  But next week, I probably won't.  Blech.  Boring.

Amusing: commercial edition

This commercial - for the soft drink that 's the official sponsor of the NFL - is cute in its own right.

But the scene that I captured here makes me laugh.  Over Brees' right shoulder is a Dolphins fan purportedly cheering for him.

Ummm, given the fact that Brees picked the Saints over the Phins (or more correctly Saban left him basically no choice), the decision to put a Phins fan in the shot - prominently - is pretty funny. 

It seems unlikely a Phins fan would cheer for Brees like that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rejoice fins fans

The dolphins may not be all that we as fans have hoped this season - or really for the last dozen years.

But at least we can take solace in the fact that we're not marlins fans! I mean what a slap in the face to trade away basically every player!!! And that will set the team back a bunch of years.

The dolphins still have room to grow but it's not *that* bad....

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dave's game notes

I was highly suspect of those around me who suggested the Dolphins were better than their record.  Of those who thought somehow - as if by magic - the dolphins "could be" 7-1.

The record spoke to who they were.  Look, as a fan, I was generally happy with the wins.  You take them where you can get them, and don't worry too much about it.

But there's no doubt this team was - and is - flawed.  And the Titans made that exceptionally clear.

On offense, Tannehill appears to have hit the rookie wall.  Most players get there, but a few elite players can push through it.  Ryan is there, and while his game will probably get better, he has to play through this to know.  Reggie Bush's fumble was horrible - but 3 picks (one for a TD) were worse.  But you have to let the kid play through it and hopefully learn.

Let's face it, Martin is on the wrong side of the line, and has a technique problem.  And Long?  He's still a very good player, but not the elite player he once was.  Honestly, I would not be surprised to see Long depart as a free agent, and Martin move to LT - and overall, I think the team would be better off (gasp! sacrilege, I know!)

On defense, the secondary is still a need, and the linebackers pass coverage struggles at times (though with a better secondary, this may not be so glaring).  Its hard to fault the defense too much because they're more of a strength than the rest of the team.

Special teams is adequate  Brandon Fields gets called on to punt a lot.  Carpenter has had his ups and downs.  The return game has been okay.

Coaching has its moments.  I'm not thrilled by Philbin, but his coordinators are doing good jobs.  For me, yesterday there was one moment that kind of summed it up. Miami was down 21-0, and was driving.  They faced a 4th and short around the Titans' 30-something. It was still "early," since the game still had time left in the 2nd quarter.

Philbin sent on the field goal unit.  Okay, points are good.  But you're down by 3 scores.  Making a field goal leaves you....down by 3 scores.  You have to take chances and as they say "fortune favors the bold" ... Carpenter hits and Miami never had another good drive or scoring chance.  As someone said to me "its like they gave up."

And that appears to be the case.

Oh and by the way, I was lucky enough to have "locker room access" for yesterday's  game.  After the game, the team very quietly skulked back to the locker room.  So I took to saying *just barely* loud enough to hear (I didn't want to get a beat down, or have security get on me) "hey you guys were average today.  woot woot."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Web Weekend and Dolphins game

As Dave mentioned before in a previous post below he and I attended the Dolphins web weekend. It was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed it. Saturday I was able help out the troops with the Dolphins special teams event in which I boxed up items to send to troops overseas. Later on in the day I toured the facility seeing memorabilia such as Hartline's gloves in the game he broke the Dolphins receiving game record. Also took a tour of the locker room where I saw Joe Philbin, by the way he is a pretty tall guy. Oh and on a separate note the Dolphins will be wearing aqua on Thursday night in case some of you where wondering. Saw the training field and bubble up close which was really cool.

Later on we heard from Ireland and Dee who revealed that we will in fact have a logo change. A nice mix of modern and old. Heard from Jim Kiick, one of the 1972 Dolphins running back and was able to get his autograph. I wish we could wear our throwback uniforms with the 40th annual celebration of the '72 team this year.

Sunday before 1 o'clock was also very fun. Got to be on the field before kick off and the whole thing felt unreal. It's one thing to see the players on TV but it's another to see the players from about 5 yards away. The seats where great, right there behind the left end zone, the one across from the deep end.

The game was another story. I came into the game expecting to see a motivated talented eager team and I just felt that we just gave up. Looking around as well I saw so many empty seats which was really sad. Like Dee said you can not influence a game from your couch and maybe if there where more fans at the game it could have motivated the players a little more. However I feel like the Dolphins should find ways to get people to come to the game. I believe they should have a buy 5 (just throwing out a number) tickets and get like 1 for free. Maybe this would get families or coworkers to come to the game together. I would like to see an orange out or white out game, maybe hand out free simple white t shirts with the logo on it to the first 2,000 people. That way you get people to show up games and they will show up earlier. Just a thought.

I don't really know what to say about the game. I could list all the things that went wrong such as turnovers etc, but that might take all day. I saw a lack of motivation. The Dolphins did not run the no huddle to the same speed as previous games. The defense could not contain Locker much like they could not contain Luck last week. Now with a short week the Dolphins need to turn their focus on the Bills.

All in all I loved the Web Weekend and thank Dave and the Dolphins for inviting me, it was truly a great experience and I met a lot of cool people there.

Thank you....

...to all who have served.

Today's Dolphins game

As you may have noticed, I posted a few pictures related to today's game - including a few cheerleader pics. And you may be asking: What gives?

To be fair, I am not the huge fan I once was, and I haven't watched many games, but I have lightly followed the team.  I have a sense of what's going on, and I do still care to a point - they're still my favorite team...

And this weekend, Richard (the writer you see posting here often) and I got invited to come out and socialize with other web sites. I didn't partake of all activities that were going on due to some other activities I had personally, but I tried to get in on some things.  And I wanted to share with fellow Dolphins fans a few hilights.

  • Joe Philben gave a brief talk and answered some questions.  I like his approach, and I can see why players respond to him.  But as a fan, I wasn't too impressed.  He didn't wow me, and didn't "command the room" the way other coaches have.  He did make a comment about the team being disciplined and playing well - except for a 5 minute stretch in Houston.  Well, that, and the entire game today.
  •  We had a chance to preview the 1972 video that is now available.  Its pretty good, and I enjoyed it. 
  • Jeff Ireland made fun of himself.  He talked about all the negative stuff that has gone on around him and how he *was* the most maligned man and today people like him. For now.
  • Mike Dee expressed the Dolphins desire to improve the fan experience, and to make the team more accessible and interesting.  (there's still a little matter of just who might pay for stadium improvements, but I'll leave that alone)
  • I had a chance to catch up with some of the other Dolphins site owners.  These guys are great, and kind of like an extended family.  And it occurred to us that there are three of us who have been to all 9 web weekends (hard to believe its 9!).  Me, Igor (Dolfans NYC), and  Dave (The Dolphins Make Me Cry) are the stalwarts. Its kind of like the reporters who have made it to every superbowl.  :)
  • The game SUCKED.  The Dolphins were terrible.  But, I can tell you that they are at least making an effort to make the fan experience more compelling.  The sideline club is cool.  Some of the fan things they do are interesting, and make for what appears to be a better experience - at least the Dolphins are trying!
  • I had a chance to talk with a ticketing guy.  We exchanged a few thoughts about why ticket sales are down - certainly mediocrity over the last decade (except for one year there they made the playoffs), the tight-lipped nature of the team for the last little while, the unfortunate scheduling of not-quite-marquee opponents, and the overall cost are factors.  My thought was that the relative cost of taking a family to a game is several hundred dollars, and in a down economy people don't want to spend that - and when the team is playing poorly that's an even tougher sell.

So it was a nice time.  And my thanks to the Fins for getting us involved. You may see some additional posts about it, or some ways to get other fans engaged and involved.  So stay tuned.

Cheerleaders 6

Cheerleaders 4

Cheerleaders 3

Cheerleaders 2

This is what 21-3 looks like

The result of this play was a pick.

Pylons

Hey the front one fell down.

Cheerleaders

Enjoy

It's game time dolphins fans!!!