Former two-time All-American Penn State guard Jeff Hartings told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for an article published today that he abused painkillers during his playing days, and that the abuse began during his days with the Nittany Lions.
Hartings told the Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo that he had been taking so many prescription drugs throughout his career, the health risks were a prime reason he decided to retire after an 11-year career. He said that his abuse of the painkillers didn’t start in the NFL, but at Penn State. “That,” he said, “was the first time I was exposed to it.”
Penn State commented via a statement for Fittipaldo’s story, which is well worth a read considering it gives a look into drug abuse at the NFL level during a week when that became a big story.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that, according to previously sealed court documents, NFL teams violated federal prescription drug laws in their supply of potent painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to players. More than 1,800 former players are suing the league in a U.S. District Court, claiming excessive distribution of pain medication has lead to numerous, long-term health issues. Hartings is not one of the players named in the suit.
As for Penn State, it”s certainly not the best public relations that it happened to be the program mentioned by a big-time player commenting on his prescription drug use and abuse. But, hey…it’s common sense that painkillers were fairly overly used by football players in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Hartings hasn’t played at Penn State since the 1995 season. Football has changed a lot since then.