Football / Sports

NFL treats players like 'livestock,' Richard Dent says

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent referred to the plight of NFL players as "livestock" when it comes to the league's treatment of its players.

Dent and former Super Bowl XX champion teammates Jim McMahon and Keith Van Horne are part of a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, alleging among other things that the league created a "culture of drug misuse" as players constantly were supplied and encouraged to use narcotics and other painkilling drugs to make sure they could play.

"The reason we are taking a look at this is because of what is happening with the ballplayers now to make it a better league," Dent said Friday. "We want to make someone responsible for the after-care of the players who have built such a dynasty here in the game itself. It's all about those changes basically. It's all about the players as far as the reason I put my name on it."

Dent has long been a proponent of having the NFL provide lifetime health insurance coverage for all of its players.

"Guys now are making money and able to help themselves. Otherwise, it is wrong to have players out there that have problems who haven't even been out of the league 10 years. It just shows you that there should be permanent care. It is a system where everybody is out for themselves."

Dent, who once was falsely accused by the Bears of being involved with cocaine early in his career, managed to overcome that stigma and accusation as an eighth-round draft pick out of Tennessee State to become a Hall of Fame player. But he is more concerned about changing the culture in the NFL today.

"That's my reasons for wanting to get involved. It's not about me," he said. "It is (about) what I experienced and what I went through. ... I don't know what's happening now, but I think there should be some accountability for what is already out here and what is to come."

Dent says he sees a system that exploits its players for the almighty dollar. He does not want to see short-term solutions to force players to play through injuries that may have adverse life-long side effects.

"Otherwise, we're like livestock. You know, some of us make it, some of us don't," Dent said. "Everyone knows about the wear and tear on the body and the possibility of going out and getting paralyzed. I can have a great game (as a player), but I am not there (later in life) to take advantage of the game. So what the hell is that worth? Now it's time to start doing something about it."

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