On ESPN’s SportsCenter Tuesday morning, NFL Hall of Famer and former Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders said it will be difficult for retired NFL players to win a case against the league over alleged illegal drug use.
Sanders, who retired from the league in 1998, sat down for an interview with ESPN host Jay Crawford in which the 1988 OSU Heisman winner was asked questions about the retired players’ lawsuit against the league. The lawsuit claims the NFL obtained and administered drugs to players illegally in order to speed up their return to the field and maximize profits.
“It’ll be a challenge to prove that the trainers forced them to take anything,” Sanders said. “I don’t know if it would be impossible, but I think it’ll certainly be a challenge. I don’t know that every individual has a case; you probably (have) more guys that don’t really have a case. That’s really between the trainers and the team doctors and those individual players, and if you have documentation that can prove that they did something inappropriate, I guess you have to go forward with that, but I think that’s an uphill battle.”
Crawford asked Sanders if he ever took a drug he didn’t want to take during his tenure in the league:
“I’m not a great example because I never took anything,” Sanders said. “I was one of the guys, I would have to say, I had to face probably through the pressure sometime of not taking something, and having maybe a reputation of not being a tough guy. But I didn’t miss that many games.
“It (drugging) happens in that game. It’s a part of it for some guys, but I don’t know if you can place responsibility or blame on someone.”
Sanders said that during his NFL career, Mondays and Tuesdays — the days after a grueling game, or a 25- to 30-carry day — were part of the territory of being a running back. He also reiterated that he feels fine and has no regrets about leaving the game when he did at the age of 30.
“For me … a lot of times you’re sore, but I’ve played the game my whole life — from high school to NFL. Some games you’re gonna be more sore than others,” Sanders said. “It was no different when I played in the National Football League. You have some games when you’re really sore because you’re a running back and you’ve taken a lot of blows. But that’s a part of the game and you’re normally over that by Wednesday or Thursday.”
“I think that was one of the most important decisions of my life,” Sanders said on retirement. “It (having physical limitations) wasn’t even something I thought about then. I’m sure I benefited from that. I have no complaints there.”