As barbaric as football seems now, it was once so much worse, as VICE's recent interview with former NFL running back Joe McCall points out.
In 1986, the Buccaneers signed running back Joe McCall, who was suffering from lingering knee pain related to a two-year-old knee injury. The injury kept him from playing, so the Bucs wanted to cut him. However, the NFL's pesky labor rules don't allow teams to simply discard injured players. So they would have to prove McCall was faking if they wanted to get rid of him.
Someone in the organization came up with the genius idea to inject McCall with sodium pentothal, also known as "truth serum."
"Once you push the sodium pentothal, you don't feel anything," McCall told VICE. "But [the knee pain] was still that bad, that I still felt a little bit."
The doctors peppered McCall with questions, which he answered truthfully, despite sodium pentothal's propensity to make people say things that actually aren't true.
McCall was understandably upset, telling The Washington Post in 1993, "That was no way to treat a human being." But he's less bitter now.
Even though the dastardly scheme didn't work, Tampa Bay ended up cutting McCall anyway and he never played in the NFL again. He worked as an English teacher, and then as a fireman. He sued the Bucs and was awarded $30,000 plus some severance pay.
- Jack Jorgensen