Former San Diego Charger Pro Bowl player and current ESPN personality Marcellus Wiley plus a handful of other former NFL players are appealing a federal court judge's decision to toss out their class-action lawsuit claiming that their respective teams overloaded them on painkillers in order to mask serious injuries and speed their return to the field.
Wiley, who spent three years of his ten-year career in San Diego, told ESPN last June that he took "multiple injections" in order to "cope with an injury that then–San Diego team physician Dr. David Chao diagnosed as a severe groin sprain."
A later analysis by an outside doctor determined Wiley had suffered a torn abdominal wall, a more severe injury requiring surgery. Chao continued on as the Chargers’ official doctor until stepping down in 2013 in the face of a complaint regarding his practice from the NFL Players Association, a charge for which he was eventually cleared by an independent panel.
"You can't walk into a doctor's office and say, 'Give me this, give me that, just to get through the day.' Somebody would shut the place down," Wiley said in his ESPN interview. "But that's what was going on in the NFL."
The suit was thrown out in December by U.S. district judge William Alsup, who said the issue should be settled through arbitration as specified by the collective bargaining agreement in place during the players' careers.
"The tortious conduct as alleged in the second amended complaint is not something that is subject to a CBA under any circumstances," countered Steven Silverman, an attorney representing the class who is appealing the dismissal.
Although several other plaintiffs in the suit are also parties to the higher-profile case involving concussions in the NFL, Wiley is not, and says he only joined the painkiller complaint after suffering partial renal failure last year despite not having any prior history of kidney issues. He believes the condition is related to the drugs doled out during his playing years.
"I'm not a medical doctor," the ESPN interview continues, "but I did take the word of a medical doctor who took an oath to get me through not just one game, or one season, but a lifetime."