Shaheen and Former NFL Player Jeff Hatch Welcome NFL Players Association Endorsement of Shaheen’s Bill to Prevent Opioid Misuse Among Students and Student Athletes

May 09, 2017

**NFL Players Association Letter to Senator Shaheen: “Student athletes are uniquely at risk for opioid misuse and overdose … we strongly support the Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, and look forward to working with you to raise awareness of this important issue.”**

 **Senator Shaheen: “It’s very encouraging to have the NFL Players Association’s support for my legislation to help prevent substance misuse among students and student athletes”**

 **Jeff Hatch, Former NFL Player & Manchester Resident Who Fought Prescription Opioid Misuse: “It’s very exciting to see the Association endorse Senator Shaheen’s legislation that will help educate students and student athletes of the dangers of substance misuse”**

(Washington, DC) — This morning, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Jeff Hatch, a former NFL player and resident of Manchester who fought prescription opioid misuse, welcomed the NFL Players Association’s (NFLPA) endorsement of Shaheen’s legislation aimed at preventing opioid misuse among students and student athletes. In a letter addressed to Shaheen, the NFLPA echoed Shaheen’s concerns about the increased non-medical use of prescription opioids among student athletes, particularly in high-impact sports.

The letter from NFLPA President Eric Winston and Executive Director DeMaurice F. Smith reads in part, “Student athletes are uniquely at risk for opioid misuse and overdose… Additional federal resources and guidance to support prevention efforts regarding the dangers of unsafe opioid use for student athletes would greatly benefit our members ongoing work. To that end, we strongly support the Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, and look forward to working with you to raise awareness of this important issue.”

“It’s very encouraging to have the NFL Players Association’s support for my legislation to help prevent substance misuse among students and student athletes,” said Senator Shaheen. “The NFLPA and its members know firsthand how at-risk athletes, particularly in high impact sports, are to prescription opioid misuse. This is also born out in studies that show that students and student athletes have a higher risk of substance misuse, yet there hasn’t been a concerted national effort to protect these young people through prevention. My bill would bring together an entirely new community including coaches, parents, athletic trainers, along with student athletes, to inform them of the risk of substance misuse and create a support system for student athletes at risk for addiction. I look forward to working with the NFLPA to draw attention to this important issue and advance my legislation in Congress.”

“The NFL Players Association has always been supportive of player-first initiatives and is keenly aware of the risks opioid medications pose for athletes of all ages, pro and amateur alike.” said Jeff Hatch, a former New York Giants player who fought substance misuse following an injury and now lives in Manchester. “It’s very exciting to see the Association endorse Senator Shaheen’s legislation that will help educate students and student athletes of the dangers of substance misuse. I know how devastating misuse of prescription opioids can be and it’s hard to overstate how important it is to provide access to prevention programs before it’s too late. These prevention programs will save lives and help students avoid the harrowing struggle that I went through. I encourage other professional league organizations to take a look at Senator Shaheen’s bill and join the NFLPA in supporting this important legislation.”  

The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act would allow schools, communities, and youth athletic associations in the Granite State and around the country to provide prevention programs to reduce the risk of opioid misuse among students and student athletes. Specifically, the bill would authorize $10 million annually to support programs for students and student athletes, as well as training for teachers, administrators, athletic trainers, coaches and athletic directors specifically targeted at mitigating the risk of opioid misuse and overdose. Research shows that students, and student athletes in particular, are at risk of opioid and heroin misuse. Senator Shaheen’s bill is the first major legislative effort to target the youth, high school, and collegiate sports communities across the country in the effort to combat the opioid epidemic.