An NFL team that is struggling financially and is being sued for performance enhancing drugs has to be the last team to be punished for using performance enhancing substances, a top NFL lawyer told The Jerusalem Times on Monday.
Lawyers representing the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens argued in court that the league needs to take a more active role in the public’s health and welfare, and it should stop punishing athletes who do not take the drugs.
They said the league’s policies need to be changed because of the harm they cause players and that athletes should be allowed to use performance enhancing agents for pain management.
“We believe that the NFL should take the lead on the issue of public health,” said David Coombs, a professor of sports law at Duke University School of Law.
“The NFL has not done enough to protect its players and the public health, and we think they should.”
The NFL Players Association and the NFL Players Union both filed a lawsuit last year against the league, alleging that the practice of players using performance-enhancing drugs is illegal, an assertion the league has repeatedly denied.
The NFLPA’s lawyers cited the drug-testing program, the players union’s refusal to pay fines and suspensions for players using the substances, and the league being “arbitrary and capricious” in its actions against players.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the NFLPA by the Law Firm of Biddle & Harlan, LLP, and former NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
The case was filed by the NFL’s lawyers in Philadelphia on Monday in federal court.
The league has argued in recent months that it has been unfairly penalized by the court for its failure to take action on the substance abuse issue.
The players union also has argued that the suspension of Brady and six other players in February for allegedly using performance enhancers for pain relief, an issue it has also addressed, is a violation of the players’ rights to fair play.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers also contend that the players are entitled to $50 million in damages.
The Eagles have a $1.6 billion payroll and are expected to lose $1 million per game this season.
The Ravens are $1 billion under the league salary cap and are not expected to make a move for next season.
Both teams declined comment.
The Ravens have said they have been informed that the team is investigating the allegations.
The Philadelphia Eagles also declined to comment.
Baltimore’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.