Ray Lucas Blames NFL for Painkiller Addiction
By Alan Schechter
Ray Lucas is a happy guy working as an analyst for SNY. But when you talk about how his battles with addiction have been reported, you get a very different Ray Lucas. A May 12th post on nfl.com reported that Ray Lucas took responsibility for his addiction, but he has much more to say than that:
“Where was the NFL when I said I would kill myself?” a furious Lucas says. “Where is the story on everything that has happened to my wife and family? Where was the story on that?”
The former Jets quarterback struggled with depression and painkiller addiction thanks to the injuries he received during his eight year career in the NFL. The depression caused problems with his wife and children, and he would go for days on end without being able to get out of bed. He went to the league and the player’s association for help, but was turned away. He even considred suicide before things finally turned around.
He’s gotten treatment for his addiction and injuries, and he is doing well, all things considered.
Although Ray Lucas has no regrets about playing football, he does blame the league for his addiction problems. Painkillers were as readily available as anything in NFL locker rooms. Nobody warned Ray about the long term health considerations, nor did they warn him that he could become addicted. He built up such a strong tolerance, that he, at one point, had to take 10 times as many pills to get the normal effect. No one said a word. And like we said before, the league and the players union wouldn’t lift a finger.
In recovery, he learned to take responsibility for his addiction, which elicited this response when asked about what the NFL can do to help, during an interview with a New York Times blog:
“It’s my problem,” he said. “It’s true that my tolerance grew because I took painkillers when I was hurt, but the fact is that I chose to take those pills. I want other people to know that if they see their tolerance growing, rather than just upping the number of pills, talk to a doctor and figure out what’s really going on.”
That was the generation of the aforementioned post on the league website, which enraged Lucas. He talked about how he was not trying to absolve the league of all responsibility, he was just trying to encourage other players to get help as quickly as they can.
The whole thing is a shame. The first shame is that nobody is able to warn players about this type of behavior before they start taking the pills. Nobody lets them know how this tolerance will get built up, and leaves these guys vulnerable, because they don’t know the difference.
Secondly is the obvious shame that the players association and the league wouldn’t help him out. If you saw the interview with Wesley Walker, he talked about how the league, players and alumni need to come up with funding for retired players, and he is absolutely right. These players are getting hung out to dry, and you know what? The game wouldn’t be what it is without the retired players. They should be honored, not forgotten. Period.
Finally, Ray Lucas, based on his own words, will not have much credibility if he is added to the retired players’ lawsuit. If they add him in, the interview where he blamed himself will be entered into the record, and that will obviously count against the players.
It’s sad. It’s all sad. It’s all very, very sad.