Linebacker DeAndre Levy ripped into Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay after he downplayed the link between concussions and professional football at last week’s NFL owners’ meetings.
Levy, a Detroit Lions defensive standout, is one of a handful of current players who are very vocal about player safety. When Irsay likened the differing effects of playing football to individuals’ responses to taking aspirin, Levy shot back via Instagram at the owner’s own drug-riddled past.
“The game has always been a risk, you know,” said Irsay. “And the way certain people are, look at it. You take an aspirin, I take an aspirin, it might give you extreme side effects of illness and your body … may reject it, where I would be fine. So there is much we don’t know.”
Levy responded, “Frequent trips to the pharmacy makes you a medical expert on CTE?”
In March 2014, police found pill bottles and more than $29,000 cash in Irsay’s car when he was arrested for driving under the influence. Further investigation linked the owner to a local doctor under investigation for prescription fraud, and found the billionaire had filled 400 pills worth of OxyContin prescriptions in a 24-day span.
Last week, Levy told ESPN that, “I feel it’s important for current players to be a part of the discussion. Not just former players or families of deceased players.”
He has pressed the NFL about the 10-plus year employment of Dr. Elliot Pellman, the league’s top medical adviser, who has discredited links between CTE and pro football. It was revealed in 2005 that Pellman, a rheumatologist with no medical experience with brain injuries, had continuously listed fraudulent medical credentials.
“Even for former players, so that they can be prepared for the issues that may come,” Levy said. “Right now, their only way of dealing with it is suggesting that it’s the way we play that causes concussions, not the fact that football itself is inherently a violent sport … the next generation of players need to know the rewards and the risks.”
Irsay is the latest owner to deny the game’s effect on player health. Last week, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called links between the NFL and CTE “absurd,” stressing that no data backs up such claims.
“There’s no data that in any way creates a knowledge,” Jones said of the concussion link to football. “There’s no way that you could have made a comment that there is an association and some type of assertion. I grew up being told that aspirin was not good. I’m told that one a day is good for you.”