Retired running back Derrick Ward has not been shy about sharing his opinions on any number of things since stepping away from the NFL, claiming the league does not care about retired players, that the New York Giants never re-sign their injured players and basically anything and everything else you can imagine.
Whether or not one agrees with Ward's opinions, the reality is he's not reserved in expressing his beliefs, debating his stance and engaging the fans. And on Thursday, he once again took to Twitter to address a recent lawsuit filed against the NFL that accuses teams of illegally supplying drugs to players without warning them of the long-term effects, resulting in major health issues and drug dependency.
"It's true about this law suit with the pain killers. I know I couldn't even play a game if I didn't have at least for Hydrocodone before the game and a second at half time. There would be practice weeks where I needed painkiller shots just to practice because of all the surgeries I had (13)," Ward tweeted."NFL teams will do any and everything they need to do to have a player play. I knew if I didn't get those pain pills and shots that I wouldn't have been able to play, which meant I would have been cut from the team. Like the old saying goes 'you can't make the team sitting in the cold tub.' "
Ward took is a step further, explaining to fans the dark side of the NFL — how players are forced to recover over a short period of time and how, quite often, drugs are used to aid in that process.
"What fans don't know is we do a lot to get our bodies just to be able to play on Sunday's. [On] Monday and Tuesday's I couldn't even walk correctly [following] a game. Wednesday's and Thursday's I coasted at practice just trying to get my body back right. Friday I was able to so a lot more. Saturday was a walk-through practice and Sunday [I went[ with the shots and the painkiller pills before the game [so] I was able to somewhat feel normal to play," Ward added.
"When all that stuff wore off about two or three hours after the game, I felt like I had been hit by a truck after games. And this was from the first preseason game until the last game of the season. So, to the fans, try to give your favorite NFL players a break. They do a lot to entertain you."
But wait…there's more.
The one-time 1,000 yard back didn't stop with just the lawsuit and what players have to deal with on a week-to-week basis, but he also noted that he was allowed to play with concussions prior to the NFL's change in stance on sideline evaluations and that he had suffered at least 10 throughout his career.
"And you have no idea how many times I had to hide my concussions from the teams just to be able to play the next week. I've had five documented concussions, but I've had at least another five I didn't let the team know about. And the five that where documented, two of them I was allowed to continue to play with — this was before the rules for concussions changed," he said.
Ward indicated that at least four of his concussions were suffered as a member of the New York Giants while wedge-busting on Special Teams, and that as a result of all 10 known concussions, he's suffered from memory loss.
"Walk a mile in my shoes and play the game of football for as long as I have and you would know what it feels like to not be able to remember the simple things like your kids' names or birthdays or your phone number. Or have a conversation with someone and can't think of a word fast enough because your brain is so banged up. This is what we go through as ball players," he concluded.
This, obviously, wouldn't be the first time we've heard about a player suffering major memory issues as a result of their time in the NFL, but it's the first (we believe) Ward has announced it.
Despite his stance on both illegally supplied drugs and concussions, Ward has not publicly been linked to either the concussion lawsuit or the more recently filed drug lawsuit.
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