For his ability to play through unbelievable amounts of pain, tight end Dan Johnson, who played seven years with the Dolphins in the '80s, was nicknamed "The King of Pain." He dealt with broken bones, knee injuries, and multiple back issues. Turns out, he was actually dealing with a serious addiction to pain pills, something a lot of South Floridians can relate to. Johnson tells ESPN he was "taking about 1,000 Vicodins a month."
Johnson was part of a recent study of former NFL players that found that not only has pain-pill abuse been rampant in the league for years but that many players leave the league with some hard-core addictions.
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Johnson told ESPN that he contemplates suicide and that when he tells people about the number of pills he took, they don't believe him: "People go, 'That's impossible. That's crazy.' No, it's exactly what I was taking. I mean, believe me, I'd love to be off medications. That's my worry every day, to make sure I have medication."
For the study, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine surveyed 644 former NFL players who retired between the late 1970s and 2006. More than half -- 52 percent -- admitted to using pain pills during their playing days, with 71 percent of that group saying they misused the drugs during that time.
And the gift that keeps on giving? Fifteen percent of those who misused drugs during their playing days admit to still misusing the drugs to this day.
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