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Four downs with Ditka

FILE - This Jan. 26 1986 file phoshows Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMah(9) bumping helmets with Keith Van Horne during

FILE - This Jan. 26, 1986 file photo shows Chicago Bears quarterback, Jim McMahon (9) bumping helmets with Keith Van Horne during Super Bowl XX in New Orleans. A group of retired NFL players says in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the league, thirsty for profits, illegally supplied them with risky narcotics and other painkillers that numbed their injuries for games and led to medical complications down the road. The complaint names eight players, including three members of the Super Bowl champion 1985 Chicago Bears: defensive lineman Richard Dent, offensive lineman Keith Van Horne, and quarterback Jim McMahon. Lawyers seek class-action status, and they say in the filing that more than 400 other former players have signed on to the lawsuit. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) ORG XMIT: WX202

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Updated: June 26, 2014 6:39AM



1. Jim McMahon, Keith Van Horne and Richard Dent, among other former players, have hit the NFL with a lawsuit that alleges teams dispensed illegal painkillers to them to mask pain and injuries. What are they trying to accomplish?

I don’t know. I have no idea. Did they know what they were doing when they did it? I don’t know. The game of football has been too good to me. I have injuries. I’ve had things that have happened to me. But I’m not going to sit back and complain what’s happened to me. I’ve had a great life playing the game. I’ve enjoyed it. Everything has been terrific. But all of a sudden now . . .

Have I ever taken a pain pill? Of course, I took pain pills. Did I ever take injections? I took injections all the time to kill the pain — novocaine, cortisone. Did it affect me? Yeah. It shortened my career, but so what? I had a great career. I’m still living off football.

I think I understand that there’s a lot of money involved here. I deal with the Gridiron Greats. We’re fighting for the players’ rights as far as
concussions and a couple of other things go.

The meds thing . . . I don’t know. If you don’t want to take them, don’t take them. I don’t think anybody ever forces anyone to do anything. If you don’t want to take it, don’t take it. If you wanted it, they were available. There’s no question about that. Is that right? I don’t know.

2. Brandon Marshall said he had his doubts when Marc Trestman came in to coach. Now he’s a believer. As a coach, how does that help the rest of the team when one of your leaders and most vocal stars buys in?

It’s important. If your stars don’t buy in, you have a problem. Marc Trestman is the right guy for the job, I’ll tell you that right now. Maybe everyone won’t buy into what he’s doing, but he’s doing the right thing. They have a terrific offense, and most of those players are signed up and ready to go. I think Marc knows he’s the right guy for the job. But I’m glad Marshall said it.

3. You have seen the ups and downs of Brandon Marshall’s career. He even said the Bears helped save his career. Talk about how he has turned it around.

Well, he has. He’s a great football player, and he’s a good person. He’s a great representative of the Chicago Bears. When Dallas traded for me, that helped turn my career around. I had just spent two years in Philadelphia that were ridiculous. Sometimes you get a new life, and it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I think he understands that he got a new life, and he’s making it work.

4. You were a young coach with the Dallas Cowboys in 1978, the last time a horse won the Triple Crown. Are we going to see California Chrome do it this year?

I’d like to see it, but that’s a little different distance [11⁄2 miles in the Belmont] than what he’s been running. It’s not going to be easy because [Ride On Curlin] was closing on him in the Preakness. But I hope it works out for him.



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