The news for the league just keeps getting worse.
Yesterday, on the 11th Sunday of a season already dogged by scandals, federal drug agents conducted surprise inspections of several NFL team medical staffs. As the Washington Post reports, agents questioned doctors and searched bags, all as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged prescription drug abuse.
The feds are looking into whether teams are illegally dispensing meds to keep players on the field, which would be a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The probe follows a class-action federal lawsuit filed by 1,300 former NFL players who charge the league with skirting laws to supply injured athletes with Percocet, Percodan, Ambien, and other addictive drugs.
“The DEA has a responsibility under the Controlled Substances Act to ensure that registrants who possess, prescribe and dispense control substances are following the law,” said spokesman Rusty Payne.
The inspections come as the NFL continues to face criticism for its handling of the Ray Rice domestic-abuse case and prepares to pay out major settlements to retired players suffering the devastating effects of repeated concussions.
The league is in some serious need of good press, and given its incredibly deep pockets—ratings are actually up this season, the New York Times Magazine reports—the solution seems obvious: The NFL must cure Ebola. Preferably before the playoffs.
It seems pretty doable. Last year, the league made $9 billion in revenue, and by 2027, that number could balloon to $25 billion. There’s a sense pro football is bulletproof—a cash cow that can’t be slaughtered, no matter how many players and teams get busted for wrongdoing—and while that may be true, curing Ebola would make the league even more untouchable, like Kevlar wrapped in Teflon.
In 10 years, the streets could be overrun with thousands of zombie-like shell-shocked ex-jocks hooked on Vicodin and no longer able to remember their last names, but if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were able to get on TV and remind people that they no longer need to hold their breath on transatlantic flights or wear mittens on the subway, the public would look the other way.
According to CNN Money, the U.S. government is poised to award $1 billion in contracts for research into Ebola vaccines and cures, and if that’s all it’ll take to get the deadly disease under control, the NFL should suck it up and invest in some beakers and lab coats.
Back in September, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted the number of Ebola cases in Africa could skyrocket to 1.7 million in four months. Even if that forecast is overly grim, the NFL has the power to save a lot of human lives. And you know the thing about humans: They watch the Super Bowl. This one's classic win-win.