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Mike Tice Named In Painkiller Lawsuit

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Mike Tice, who was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2002 to 2005 (and had worked with the team as an assistant since 1996), is one of several former NFL head coaches that was named in a lawsuit filed by a number of former players on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges that players were pressured by coaches and other team members to take painkillers that had been administered by team physicians without proper prescriptions and with little to no explanation of the risks involved.

Other coaches named in the lawsuit were

-Wayne Fontes, former head coach of the Detroit Lions
-Mike Holmgren, who served as head coach for the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks
-Howard Schnellenberger, who was part of three different NFL coaching staffs between 1966 and 1978
-Don Shula, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins

In particular, the lawsuit alleges that Tice and the coaches listed above threatened players with being cut from their team rosters unless they took the drugs and got back out onto the field.

The league itself is not named as a defendant in the case, but the NFL's 32 franchises are, and they're being accused of creating a culture that pressures players to return to the field before they might be ready to do so.

One of the plaintiffs is Etopia Evans, the widow of former Minnesota Vikings' running back Chuck Evans. Evans played for the Vikings from 1993 to 1998, and was the starting fullback on the 1998 team that went 15-1. Evans passed away back in 2008 at the age of 41.

There was a similar lawsuit that was brought forth in 2014, but it was dismissed by a federal judge in California five months ago. (That decision is currently under appeal.) This lawsuit was filed in a district court in Maryland.

Obviously, if all 32 teams are named as defendants, it isn't just Tice or just the Vikings that are under the microscope here. But he's one of the people that's directly named in the lawsuit as having done these sorts of things. We'll be keeping an eye on this one to see how things turn out.