Former ASU star reveals ugly truths about NFL, illegal narcotics

For some, life after the NFL is far from glamorous.

One is former Arizona State star wide receiver and NFL Pro-Bowler J.D. Hill who is one of 500 former players involved in what could be a messy lawsuit against the league for using painkillers and other drugs to mask injuries.

“From the time you were entered in as a rookie you begin to take painkillers,” the eight-year NFL veteran Hill told’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “I was taking painkillers from the time I entered the league until the time I left.”

Hill said as soon as his playing career ended in 1977, so too did the access to these enablers he’d been relying on since entering the league. He then turned to other types of drugs: street drugs to help feed his addiction once his playing days ended.

During his playing career he was given “pills for sleep, pills to play, pills for halftime, pills after the game.” It was the norm for most players who had no idea of the long-term ramifications decades later. Many from Hill’s genre have already passed away while other struggle day-to-day with everything from memory loss to kidney problems to battles with depression.

The lawsuit is being spear-headed by Hill, Hall of Famer Richard Dent and fellow Chicago Bears Jim McMahon and Keith Van Horne, as well as former St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinal Roy Green, Jeremy Newberry, Ron Stone and Ron Prichard.

As of Tuesday evening the league wasn’t ready for any public announcement regarding the lawsuit.

Hill knows now is the time to come forward.

“We have a voice right now where we can share our stories. Education is going to be a major factor that comes out of this. Overall, it’s going to bring about a greater awareness for sure.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified financial damages and league-funded programs to aid current and former players with addictions.