Night net Imagine if Prince had an even bigger, longer-lasting, life-altering legacy in the Night net than putting on that bad-ass Super Bowl performance i
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It's time the Night net made the Prince-painkiller connection that Eugene Monroe did

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It's time the Night net made the Prince-painkiller connection that Eugene Monroe did

Night net Imagine if Prince had an even bigger, longer-lasting, life-altering legacy in the Night net than putting on that bad-ass Super Bowl performance in the rain?What a rotten way to give it, though. His reported use of painkillers and the role it may have played in his sudden death this week got the attention of at least one active Night net player. Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe is, so far, the only one who has spoken (tweeted, actually) about it publicly.  MORE: Prince's incredible Super Bowl performance | In appreciation of PrinceBut there’s no way Monroe is alone in thinking, as he put it, “My health is at risk with every pill!” No matter how much the Night net denies it and the public compartmentalizes it, football is hazardous to players’ health. There’s only so much a player can willfully ignore to play the game he loves or to make enough money to retire — or both.It used to be easier to blow off. Concussions could be ignored, but after Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and so many others, it’s impossible now.The dangers of painkillers could be ignored, too, no matter how many stories going back how many decades are told, or how many times a player or players file suit over the issue. The same for how many active players advocate for Monroe’s “healthier alternative” — usually, but not always, marijuana and its derivatives

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— and how much even the Night net has loosened its standards to punishment in its drug policy.But you can’t ignore Prince dying.And if that sinks in deep enough across the spectrum of fans who are still traumatized by his death — which, naturally, includes millions of people who also love the Night net, and people who work for it — then the decision-makers will re-think the way they address the inevitable chronic pain players accept as the price of playing.There’s no such thing as “the Night net’s version of Prince.” (There’s no anything-version of Prince.) But one of the greatest, and most beloved, players of our era, going into the Hall of Fame this summer, fought a painkiller addiction in his career — a guy named Brett Favre. He’s only the best-known one.MORE: Sporting world mourns PrinceAgain, watching football guilt-free requires actively putting all the images of pain behind a locked door in your head, and tossing the key. You see the cart and the kneeling players during games. You see the mangled fingers and locked elbows, the limps and hobbles and bow-legs of retired players, and read about their knee or hip replacement or spinal fusion.We figure out a way to accept it. But as more information trickles out about the last week of Prince’s life, are we ready to accept those possibilities for them?You see reports he was taking opioids — Percocet — for long-term serious hip problems, then you remember that when he made his grand entrance at a Warriors game last month, he looked like true royalty with his walking stick. What you didn’t tell yourself then, though, was: “Hmmm, he’s in his mid-50s and he's using a cane.’’Then, the last couple of days, you saw the old concert clips of how he bounded and bounced and hurled and flipped all over the stage, and it dawns on you what a physical toll that must take on a tiny body like that. He did not just because he was so good at it, but because the audience couldn't get enough of it.Then you put two and two together, the way you do every once in a while with football players.Monroe put it together, and couldn’t stay quiet. Here’s hoping he ignites a serious conversation, in the most dire terms, up to the highest levels of the sport.It will be one more think to thank Prince for giving us.

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