Pills for pain put BYU star in a tailspin

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  • Lisamarie Perez
    March 18, 2008 1:53 a.m.

    Don't blame anyone accept that you have a problem and know that it's your choice to say yes or no,This world makes all these things easy for all to get and then once we become addicted they want to put you under telescope for the whole world to see your mistakes.Just because you play football does not mean your not human,but we all make mistakes just know that God will help you make things right for you and your wife.Here is a poem that I wrote(He can be trusted)People doubted me and that they should,but what they didn't know is that God could,According to my faith he promised me everything that I wanted including a place for my soul in exchange for the things of this world,the decision was mine he said to me,just make sure you think carefully,just how your life was before you met me,the good the bad the ups and downs didn't seem so worth while unless I was around,the bad times seemed to last forever and the good times lasted a minute or lesser.This is just alittle bit of my poem but I hope you all get the message. We are all human.

  • Lisamarie Perez
    March 18, 2008 1:34 a.m.

    Don't blame anyone, just accept that you have a problem,and know wiyj in your self that only God can get you right,You are only human and just because you played football does not make you beyond the things that this world makes so easy for you to get,and then when you do everyone puts you under the scope.Just remember this is the only life you have,live it to the best according to God and you will,I promise be blessed.Here is a poem I wrote that I hope will help.(He can be trusted)People doudted me and that they should,but what they didn't know is that God could,According to my faith he promised me everything that I wanted including a place for my soul in exchange for a place for my soul in exchange for the things of this world,the decision was mine he said to me,just make sure you think carefully,just how your life was before you met me.The good the bad,the ups and downs didn't seem so worth while unless I was around.There is more of this poem but I just wanted to give you an idea of how God works.Just try him.

  • suri99
    Nov. 1, 2007 9:29 p.m.

    I know these people from high school and did not think fondly of one of them. However, this article shows that people change. I'm glad they are using their story to help educate others of the dangers of drugs.

  • selous scout
    Oct. 31, 2007 4:34 a.m.

    I think this is a wake up call to Bronco and BYU Athletics, they need to make sure no more of these athletes have their lives ruined by addiction to painkillers.
    Two stories regarding this in one day. College Sports are competitive and it's natural that the coach wants to have the best players on the field and the players want to get on the field in order to not lose their position to another player.
    The coaches and medical staff have to look out for the well being of the players and they have to be aware of this situation in order to prevent it in the future, luckily this couple are sorting their life out, Brad Martin he couldn't overcome his addiction and he's dead now.

  • Re: Mark
    Oct. 30, 2007 6:00 p.m.

    So its the fans fault?


    I would respond to the blogger by reminding him that there is no requirement that any university sponsor intercollegiate athletics. If the various problems associated with intercollegiate athletics are in conflict with the values of a given university, it can simply choose to not participate. (see BYU Idaho or Westminster College)

    However, if a university chooses to sponsor intercollegiate athletics, it accepts the burden of participating in a manner that is in harmony with the institutions values, regardless of the pressure from fans to win. It is expected that based on its guiding values BYU would be above reproach in every aspect of its participation in intercollegiate athletics.

    However, the series of publicized problems with BYU athletes and drugs that date back to the 80s, combined with Tom Holmoes weak description of BYUs efforts to address these problems leaves me wondering about the schools commitment to behave in a manner that is above reproach with regard to the problem of abuse of painkilling medications by athletes.

  • Mark
    Oct. 30, 2007 11:38 a.m.

    Coaches demand body and soul from the players but the fans and the alumni demand only one thing from the coaches - WINS - So who is ultimately to blame?

  • BYU fan
    Oct. 29, 2007 11:03 p.m.

    To the guy that question BYU athelte in the 80's. This happened at BYU under Lavell Edwards. The problem was so severe that BYU fired the doctor handing out the pain killers like candy.

    Two of the players (one was LB and the other was Receiver).

    One of these players was never able to break the habit and ended up in prison. I know because I worked there when he was there.

    So yes, this problem happened before.

  • Re: not just byu
    Oct. 29, 2007 7:45 p.m.

    Wow... a lawyer making guarantees and taking an absolute stand...

    I repeat my challenge, Counselor. Name one school, other than BYU, where a former player has sued for the way prescription painkillers were dispensed.

  • Kimmy
    Oct. 29, 2007 2:55 p.m.

    You know what, i want to thank all of you who support my sister and her husband. It's good to see that people have their backs because i have looked up to her throughout my life even more now that she is bettering her life. I would also like to say to the people who don't think it happens all over that is does and it is starting at younger ages as time goes on; i'm seeing this through my experience and participation as a high school athlete in soccer, basketball, and softball. I hope to see my close friends that are starting to play with this fire stop because i see how it affects lives. If you are an athlete it is easier to realte to this because injuies happen to everyone and coaches want players back as fast as possible esspecially valuable ones and it may blind them from reality sometimes. BYU maybe didn't start and feed the problem but it didn't help stop it either with the pressure from not only the coaches, but the players and the community to get back on the field. I LOVE YOU GUYS, it's good to have you back.

  • re:re: not just byu
    Oct. 29, 2007 9:22 a.m.

    Im an attorney, and I GUARANTEE that if you go through the hassle of searching the billions of court records in each of the 50 states you will find a good number of these suits. You think that only BYU players get addicted, and that only BYU staff is maybe a little less careful than they should be? I rarely take an absolute stand, particularly on issues like this, BUT YOU ARE DEAD WRONG.

  • To BYU athlete in the 80s
    Oct. 29, 2007 7:38 a.m.

    I call misrepresentation on that comment. I want your name, sport, and year, before you go throwing BYU under the bus. Pain killers are a good thing by the way. I had a knee surgery where I had torn every ligament in my knee. They gave me oxycontin, I took it for 2 days and never felt any different and threw 3/4 of the bottle away. It is the person that abuses the drug, the drug doesn't abuse the person. By the way, doctors are a lot like bishops, in that they can only hold peole accountable based on what they will truthfully say, this is why many prescriptions/recommends are handed out to recipients who don't deserve them. Don't throw BYU under the bus when it is the players who are 100% in the wrong.

  • Their problems began in HS
    Oct. 29, 2007 7:29 a.m.

    This is one essential element to their story that many (including parents) don't know period.

  • RE: Drug Testing
    Oct. 28, 2007 11:49 p.m.

    I agree whole heartedly, and it should mandatory at ALL NCAA schools. The weight rooms and practice facilities get fancier, the coaches are getting paid more and more, the travel arrangements more cushy and expensive, there IS money for drug testing. Steroids, pain killers, illegal drugs, HGH -- ALL should be tested for on a regular basis.

    Good luck to Bryant and Mindy.

  • Re: Not just BYU
    Oct. 28, 2007 10:10 p.m.

    If you can, name one other school where former players have sued the school for the way prescription painkillers were dispensed.

  • BYU Athlete in 1980's
    Oct. 28, 2007 10:05 p.m.

    Luckily I survived the Percodan scandal that pervaded the BYU athletic dept. in the 1980's. I had a back injury but luckily I stuck to aspirin or Tylenol (didn't have ADVIL way back then) and toughed it out, something didn't seem right about taking pain pills. Many others weren't so lucky or had more serious injuries, though I ended up having a neck fusion many years later, probably related to my injuries. I know the team doctors were prescribing this stuff like candy and many of us that are a little older can remember this whole ugly affair in BYU sports history. It was bad. Unfortunately a generation later it rears its ugly head. But I think it happens in all college and pro athletic programs but BYU is no different. There is a certain amount of personality but overall, aren't most people trusting of adult authority figures, especially doctors?

  • RuBlue
    Oct. 28, 2007 10:00 p.m.

    This is not a problem with the BYU football program. They provided Bryant with a scholarship, great educational opportunity and the ability to participate in a sport he obviously loved. The fact that he got hurt is truly unfortunate. The fact he got addicted to drugs falls at his feet, and that of his wife.
    If you want to throw someone under the bus for this situation then look no further than the doctors who prescribed the narcotics without any thought for Bryant's or Mindy's welfare. Why is no one asking for their heads??
    Did BYU want Bryant back on the field as soon as he was healthy - no question as he appeared to be a contributor. However, no one in this article is saying the program facilitated his ongoing access to these drugs. It was clearly their choice to deceive the system and their own family to obtain the drugs. Personal accountability for their own actions is being taken by Bryant and Mindy and I applaude them.
    I can only imagine the comments that would be triggered if the program had mandatory drug testing for all players, with surveylance and phone taps of all injured players.

  • Not just BYU
    Oct. 28, 2007 8:58 p.m.

    This is a problem everywhere - not just BYU. You only hear about it at BYU, because we don't expect it there! But, this story shows it can happen even there...to good kids!

    Kudos to Bryant for assuming responsibility, however, this does not mean BYU and Medical Doctors shouldn't use this wake-up call to see what they can do to avoid this situations, they certainly may share some blame here too!

    Sports are a ridiculously HUGE obsession in today's society, so the pressure is there from all sides to succeed. Let's start looking after the people first, not the program first at the expense of the people. After all, sports are just silly games, to serve as entertainment for the thoughtless crowd - I'm not excluding myself here. Therefore, sports certinly should not cost anyone their future, or in some cases their life! Let's lighten-up as a society - IT IS JUST A GAME!

  • Re: Bike
    Oct. 28, 2007 3:13 p.m.

    You are absolutely right....

    From the early 80's there have been reports of BYU players with prescription drug problems.

    Some former players have sued BYU over the way they were administered drugs while at the school.

    I can't remember a single instance of a player at another in-state school who sued their school over the administration of prescription painkillers.

    If the writer wants to cover the 'real story' it should be what BYU has done to result in a higher instance of painkiller abuse among players and former players, and what are they doing about it?

    My guess is that this is not a topic that BYU wants to talk about very much.

  • Bike
    Oct. 28, 2007 2:38 p.m.

    Whether they want to admit it or not, bring players back from injury too soon has been a problem at BYU for quite a while. I'm sure it happens a lot of places, but former BYU players have had a higher percentage of painkiller abuse than at other schools.

  • Drug Testing
    Oct. 28, 2007 12:38 p.m.

    Simple, Drug testing once a month during off season, weekly during season. Period. Especially, injuried players that may be on prescription drugs or over doing the perscriptions. Kinda like checking the oil in a high performance car. Yes, BYU has seem this problem before and may continue to see these issues in print unless they take a pro active role in manging these issue.

  • Wayne of Provo
    Oct. 28, 2007 9:29 a.m.

    I love the Atkinson family and appreciate hearing the whole story as I went by and saw Bryant and his car in the ditch one morning. I use to be in the Pharmaceutical industry. and quit just for this reason. Money seems to be the bottom line and until Dr's and schools start caring more about these athletes then the bottom line Bryant's and Hal Garner's plus countless others history is going to continue to escalate to destructive proportions. Because sports are not going away let's hope the ones providing the arena are are treated with respect and not just disguarded as trash. May I suggest ALTERNATIVES that are not additive or totally destructive. Thank you for this article and I hope all sports people, even us that have injuries from church ball will benefit from this article.

  • Anonymous
    Oct. 28, 2007 9:21 a.m.

    Bryant and Mindy, thank you on your willingness to go public with your addiction!

    I have been in 12 step recovery for over twenty years and was also an athlete with great promise at one time (was an assistant football coach at U of U).

    My only suggestion is to get involved in the LDS ARP (addiction recovery program) in a big way like I did. I have an eternal family since 1988 and have had an increasingly sucessful career (OVER 31 YEARS IN THE SAME GREAT JOB).

    I believe I have helped thousands of addicts, through our Lord, in their recovery. Keep up the great work and carry the message to your generation of addicts. They are depending on you.

    The message is that you can have the best, most useful and happy years of your life ahead of you by learning how to work the 12 steps and helping others recover.

    May God bless you and keep you in your recovery efforts.

  • Personal Responsiblity
    Oct. 28, 2007 8:38 a.m.

    While I empathize greatly for the player, his family, and loved ones, the world is full of people who blame others. Kudos for him taking responsiblity. Shame on those who provide excuses. Our oen choices and behavior are exactly that: our own choices. The sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can avoid, or overcome bad choices.

  • MFM
    Oct. 28, 2007 7:36 a.m.

    I've read most of the comments and am sympathetic with people who become addicted to pain killing pharmaceuticals through abuse, etc. Much of this comes from the drug culture that has grown out of the marijuana, and other hallucinogens in the 1960's. It's not society....it was the rock star, groupies, and all the other baloney that had mushroomed into sports, and other activities. Our porous borders have allowed a flood of these illicit drugs to come into this country. The drug providers need to be eliminated or controlled. Drugs/painkillers in sports is just the tip of the iceberg. The availability of drugs in the prisons and on the streets is outrageous. It boils down to individuals making poor decisions. For the most part, doctors cannot take the blame. Sports cannot take the blame either. It's still the participants who must take the responsibility for their actions. All levels of our institutions must step up to responsible ways of addressing drug abuse issues. Corruption and irresponsibility exists everywhere. We have to work on all of this.

  • MominMO
    Oct. 28, 2007 5:16 a.m.

    This is interesting. I am a former Utah resident, now in MO. I read the paper daily via internet. I notice the Dez News top stories are mostly about sports. High school, some. College mostly. Now the stories about injuries and addictions come out. Talk about pressure on young athletes to perform. Of course!! There's hardley another topic to discuss other than sports when you're in Utah.

  • Sports
    Oct. 28, 2007 1:57 a.m.

    Just one more reason to stop using educational institutions as minor leagues for professional sports. Having gone to BYU-Idaho, it seems apparent that doing away with intercollegiate sports altogether is a drastic and necessary measure that should be followed by all institutions of higher learning interested in something other than the almighty dollar.

  • keep it up
    Oct. 28, 2007 12:00 a.m.

    Bryant and Mindy - please keep at it, sounds like you have a great support with your family. I can only imagine the pain and the desire to eliminate it.
    BYU - they may have been able to do more, who knows. I doubt they turned away. The program has it's players that get off track occasionally but look at what Bronco is doing now. The exposure of being a part of a program that focuses on service and example as well as winning is phenominal. Look at guys like Detmer, Curtis Brown, Jamaal Willis, ...and so many that have joined the church and are happy because of it.
    I'd love to see this couple finish out with degrees from BYU but regardless, just get the degrees and continue building your lives.

  • xoS deR oG
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:08 p.m.

    Medical centers prescribe drugs. People listen to music stoned on drugs.

    It's not football, the school, or the program. It's society and people are always looking for a way to deal with the problems of life.

    I see way more positives coming out of BYU football than negatives.

    If Bryant and Mindy make this work, they may be able to look back at this as one of the greatest thing to strengthen and temper them as a couple.

    Who knows when this weakness might have reared it ugly head later in life.

    I'm lucky to have been through what I have. It made me who I am today. Wouldn't be here if I hadn't been there.

    Good luck kids, it's worth the work.

  • Haylee
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:07 p.m.

    I am replying to "me" who said that "Sports are very demanding, but Ive got a problem with the father blaming it on the program. Im guessing the father pushed his son as much as anyone until he got to college."
    i am bryants sister and so i would know that my father NEVER pushed bryant in any way in football. He was there to cheer him on when he did a great tackle but he never put pressure on him to succeed so please don't assume things you don't know. My father is Definitely not at fault here. My brother made some mistakes, but most of you dont even know him so dont assume things about him that arent true. if you know him please don't think of him or mindy any differently. They are both great people who just got caught up in a bad situation.

  • Mntneer
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:13 p.m.

    That's right. Football just isn't worth the trouble. BYU should give it up and focus on more enduring, important (less destructive) activities.

  • Sad Story
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:47 p.m.

    I new Bryant personally at Timpview along with his brothers, he was always a good kid, and thats what he still is ,a good kid in a tough situation, football can tear a person apart, the pain of injuries can drag anyone down, no matter how strong you think you are.

  • Terry
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:47 p.m.

    Is this really news? It's a dime a dollar story about an athlete and drug abuse. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Try this
    Oct. 27, 2007 7:23 p.m.

    One close friend of mine had a severe, debilitating pain problem in her knees after surgery, and my son was prescribed drugs by a doctor on his mission which adversely affected his cognitive functioning. Chinese Acupuncture returned them both to a normal life without drugs or more surgery. I wish more people would try this. I heard that now acupuncture is required in some states, by law, for those caught using illegal street drugs to free them from addiction. I wish more MD's would "prescribe" this, instead of narcotics.

  • Gretzky
    Oct. 27, 2007 6:19 p.m.

    BYU needs to let him finish his degree as part of his scholarship...now that he is clean. i am glad he and his wife have been able to clean up their lives and overcome the addictions...it's still a lifetime process just like any addiction...

  • Not suprised
    Oct. 27, 2007 6:14 p.m.

    This same thing happened to that one guy who died two summers ago, ex BYU player. How come we don't hear it from Utah and Weber etc? Cause its not a problem there, but at BYU it is and this NEEDS TO STOP!! PLEASE!!

  • idaho falls
    Oct. 27, 2007 6:06 p.m.

    I do feel very badly for the Atkinsons. It must have been difficult for all of them. I do not however feel that BYU is to blame or any of the coaches. He made his own choices. The pressure to succeed and play on the field is present at every college and every pro sport club. Most likely Atkinson did not tell anyone about how bad the pain was and he wanted to continue playing, trying to live the dream and make it to the NFL. What should the coaches have done? I'm sure they would have given him time off but that he wanted to be out there on that field and so took painkillers in order to do just that. No, the blame is not on the coaches at BYU.

  • Mike
    Oct. 27, 2007 5:54 p.m.

    I think there are a lot of things in the world that people can become addicted to. That doesn't make them evil, or wrong. However, when those things take away our ability to act for ourselves or to be free, they cross the line. I agree that MUCH more education regarding prescription medication needs to take place. Hopefully, this article will get the right conversations happening.

  • Football Family
    Oct. 27, 2007 5:45 p.m.

    BYU coaches would never push an individual to this end. The boy admits he did not tell the coaches of the pain.

    I am quite confident there are a hundred individuals in this valley that have become addicted to these pain killers for every one football player.

  • JEB
    Oct. 27, 2007 5:34 p.m.

    I am proud of Mindy and Bryant for having the courage to tell their story. I hope that it can help others who may be at risk for developing a similar addiction to pain medications.

  • Narcotics are difficult
    Oct. 27, 2007 3:55 p.m.

    As a medical doctor, I along with all of my colleagues prescribe medications including narcotics.
    No doctor in Utah should lack for patients to the point of prescribing medications for pain without concern and without careful consideration. We are all busier than we want to be without trying to drum up business in that way.

    I do have patients who require long term pain medications for many types of illnesses: rheumatoid diseases, cancer and other painful chrnoic illnesses, auto injuries and sports injuries to name a few. A patient on scheduled chronic pain medication must sign a contract to get his pain medications only from one doctor and one pharmacy. The prescription must be followed correctly and filled at the appropriate time. If it is done fraudulently or early, the patient may then be dismissed from the practice.

    We are very careful about this.

    Many patients are dishonest and deceptive about there narcotic use and will doctor "shop", claim fake injuries, use different aliases, pick up precriptions in someone elses name.

    Once addicted, using the medication as a high instead of for pain, Oxycontin and heroin are injected, percocet, lortab illegally obtained from the street.

    Be careful with narcotics!

  • johnny cobert
    Oct. 27, 2007 2:40 p.m.

    After reading the submitted comments I want to say one thing more. Listen to "fellow drug addict" who is in revovery. Doesn't matter if it is a legal or illegal drug, the brain responds the same way. If you have never dealt with addiction ( yourself or a significant other in your life) then you have no idea of the monster it is. It does no good to point fingers. You have to get off your backside. admit that you have lost control of your life and say "I need help" and mean it. Unfortunatly, the disease of addiction can never be healed. Once established, it has to be dealt with the rest of your life. Only those in recovery know what I mean when I speak of "triggers" and how they show their face when least expected and how you have to be prepared to deal with them. The best program on earth to help deal with these "triggers" is a 12-step group and program. So, don't use your energy placing the blame, get your loving family member into a treatment program. And with it, tough love is essential. These programs work.

  • Matt
    Oct. 27, 2007 2:35 p.m.

    To Dr.'s share blame,
    As a medical student we have discussed ad naseum about how to determine whether or not a patient is drug-seeking. Dr.'s aren't worried about losing patinets, they have plenty to go around, but they are worried about giving someone something they don't need. If you read the entire article you will notice that he started getting pills from other sources, like his wife and on the internet. Granted, there are some doctors who are bad, but don't blame the entire profession for a person who lied to get drugs and found illegal ways to maintain his addiction

  • Dr.'s share blame
    Oct. 27, 2007 2:00 p.m.

    When are we going to start holding physicians accountable in our society. Too many physicians don't take the time to ask the right question and follow up with their patients. I know that some physicians suspect abuse but they are too worried about losing a patient and so they continue to prescribe. If our society wants to work on this problem we need to attack both the supply and the demand. The supply of these pain killers is way to easy to obtain!

  • Been there...
    Oct. 27, 2007 1:35 p.m.

    Good luck to Bryant and Mindy, I wish them the best. The pressure to perform doesn't stop after football, it is part of life, so there could always be someone else to blame. Bravo to Bryant for taking responsibility for his addiction. It is the first step in recovery. I can understand Scott Atkinson's feelings...looking for a reason and something to blame. But I wonder if he has taken into consideration how many parents may be blaming Bryant and Mindy for their child's addiction problem. It happens to the best of people. Parents and kids have to meet the problem head on and not pretend it isn't there or that it is someone else's fault.

  • Can't blame football
    Oct. 27, 2007 1:25 p.m.

    I know many addicted to pain killers who don't know a thing about football. This problem extends to all levels, all religions, races, sexes, and situations. Some are more succeptible to chemical addictions. I've had to take pain killers many times for different reasons and have never been tempted. But I'm far from perfect in other areas of my life.

    Good luck to the young couple.

  • dyc
    Oct. 27, 2007 1:04 p.m.

    As I read the comments I notice everyone seems to be busy saying who is or is not to blame. We don't have enough facts to know that, and I don't think that is the point of the article. After reading this article, what I hope happens is that all people who read it will learn from the story. Parents need to help their minor and young adult children understand what they need to do to protect their bodies if they are playing sports. The student athlete needs to understand that no sport is worth destroying your body, and the coaches need to do everything in their power to protect the athletes for whom they have stewardship. Most important is that Bryant and Mindy need to be commended for turning their lives back around and being brave enough to share their story with the rest of us. I doubt that I would be brave enough to do that.

  • fellow drug addict
    Oct. 27, 2007 12:43 p.m.

    As a recovering drug addict with over 1 year in sobriety and a health care provider, it is possible to overcome the bondage of addiction. This is a DISEASE that can best be overcome with 12 step programs. I am happy to see the LDS Church has finally embraced these 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. As a fellow addict, I'm happy to see this couple in recovery.

  • JPC53
    Oct. 27, 2007 12:41 p.m.

    For all of you who say that the sports program shouldn't be blamed, or that they would never force someone to do this. You are living in a dream world. In division 1 athletics winning is the only thing and schools recruit over kinds constantly. If you can't make it they have others in the wings waiting to take your place. That is the psychological pressure that coaches and programs put on individuals. Combine that with the players love for the sport and you have a prescription (pardon the pun)for disaster. For anyone that still thinks that programs wouldn't give athletes painkillers to improve their performance, all you had to hear was Bonnie Brillstein on the sidelines before the Rutgers game today. When talking about the Rutgers quarterback's bad hand she said she was told by the coaches that he would take a painkiller, have it wrapped and be ready to go. Unfortunately this happens all the time.

  • Hmmmmm
    Oct. 27, 2007 12:07 p.m.

    I had surgery to fix a broken nose a few years back, and didn't take anything for the pain. I was prescribed pain medication, but it didn't hurt too bad, so I didn't take any and threw them all away a few days later. Last year I had a roomate who had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus (sp?). He didn't take pain meds, either. I know he was hurting quite bad for a few days, but he made it all right (he was back to playing soccer and hiking within a few months). I know there is a proper place for pain medication, but I'd rather suffer through a little pain (or even a lot) than risk becoming addicted.

  • Mr. M
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:26 a.m.

    I'm glad to see that this young couple are changing their lives around and seem to be on the right path. I just can't believe that something like this could happen at a place like BYU where I have been told everything and everyone are as clean and white as the wind-driven snow. All of my BYU fan friends and neighbors keep telling me that things like this only happen at other schools where people of "lesser quality and spiritual integrity" attend and play sports. I just can't believe this could happen at BYU. I thought Elder Bronco had returned the program to glory and was fully invested in the program. I thought this type of evil only happened at places like the U of U where everyone is always drunk or high (tic)!

    In all seriousness, this should be a wakeup call for everyone. This can happen anywhere and to anyone and many share the blame... athletes, parents, coaches, doctors etc.. Even at a perfect place like BYU. The win-at-all-cost mentality can and does destroy lives.

  • J.S.
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:21 a.m.

    You CANNOT blame BYU or Bronco Mendenhall! The burden of responsibility must be shouldered on the player (and his wife) and his doctors. Bronco does truly care about his players. He always has and always will. Any pressure the players "feel" to get back out there before they are ready is peer pressure, not from the coaching staff.

    I have played collegiate football and I am a fried of Coach Mendenhall. I had knee surgery earlier this year....I was on the phone with Bronco the day before my surgery and he warned me as a friend to be careful with the pain meds. He realizes they are needed to properly recuperate, but offered me a stern warning to get off of them ASAP. We talked about the programs available to the players in the program to help them recognize the warning signs and give them the tools to manage and avoid potential problems.

    I do feel badly for the athletes that are dependent upon pain meds to be able to function. But the blame must be placed where it is appropriate...With the individual. There is a reason Bronco preaches personal accountability above all else, and he practices what he preaches....

  • Don't flush pills down toilet
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:20 a.m.

    This is a sad story, although one that hopefully will have a happier ending than what happened to Brad Martin. But please don't flush medication down the toilet! Now those 400-500 pills are in the water supply, along with other medications flushed away by everyone else. Water treatment plants can't filter it out.

  • Old Coug
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:14 a.m.

    This is a sad tale, but one wonders if the drug/painkiller habit for this poor kid didn't start earlier. High school athletes can get drugs just as easily as college athletes can. I wouldn't be surprised if this kid and his wife dabbled in painkillers as high school athletes, too.

  • Accountability All Around!
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:13 a.m.

    As a former BYU football player, both the player AND the program must stand accountable for what went on here. Anyone suggesting that all of the pressure to play only comes from within is a lie. Every week, coaches ensure that you know that your scholarship, starting position, and acceptability or "toughness" is on the line. There is external pressure to be on the field. An injured player is of no use to the program, once you're injured, chewed up and spit out. At the same time, as a player you must decide how far you're willing to go in order to be on the field. Thus, accountability for what happened here must be taken by both the program and the player. I'm just glad I got out when I did, although it still might have been too late, seeing I have to deal with injuries incurred at BYU that have permanently altered my physical health. I wish Bryant the best, and all other players who have suffered similar injuries/ situations.

  • TN
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:12 a.m.

    Best of luck to the Atkinsons, but to hold anyone responsible besides Bryant and Mindy is ridiculous. I hope BYU steps in and helps in whatever way they can, but the Dad is way off in suggesting that they should be responsible when Bryant admits to not following prescribed dosages, gave pills to teammates without notifying the team, didn't tell the coaches or trainers about his pain, quit the team thereby losing contact with the school, and hid his problem from everyone around him. (And the fact that Bryant can't remember how he paid for the pills is very suspicious).

    I suspect the dad is feeling some guilt himself for not realizing what was going on, and for no doubt pressuring his son to perform on field.

  • positive experience
    Oct. 27, 2007 11:10 a.m.

    My son had surgery with BYU football and never was once pressured to hurry back, in fact the opposite. They did not want him around to get hurt again and told him to attend the therapy sessions and stay out of the weight room. He was told by all coaches to leave the pain killers alone and get off fast, and never once was oxycontin even prescibed. They gave a minimal amount of hydrocodone to get through the first few days. Alot of the emphasis is on the athlete and their support system in the way they handle it. I think great strides have been made at BYU in controlling problems.

  • kk
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:54 a.m.

    I agree with Whose is to blame and Jason but want to add that each situation is unique. My son had knee surgery in June following his junior year of high school by one of the BYU associated ortho specialists. My son was not a star athlete but was a respectable player with potential. The doctor strongly recommended he not return to sports for 8 months missing his senior year. He told numerous stories of athletes at all levels including pros that tried to get back on the field to early. Some did ok but most did not. The situation with this family and player is not the same as ours though the injury and the perscribed pain killers the same. My son chose to follow docs advise and get off the pain meds asap. The temptation was great to not follow the docs advise and I can only imagine how hard it would have been if he had been a star player. I have one child that had a drug problem and a sister as well. Please don't judge this great family and couple regardless of your experiences. Pray that all of us can resist the temptation of drugs.

  • Hmmmm
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:41 a.m.

    So he was taking 10 pills a day valued between $400-$600.00

    And who was paying for these?

    Oct. 27, 2007 10:37 a.m.

    Do you remeber the percidan issues in the 80's??? BYU SHOULD accept some of the blame. There not the only ones out there doing it. It's not a 'byu' problem, it is a society problem. We do all sorts of things to tell these kids from 2nd grade on that it the BEST is you play sports. Just quit trying to rationalize byu involvement, it makes you look silly.

  • Mike
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:34 a.m.

    I personally am aware of several people who are or once were addicted to some kind of prescription medication. This is a huge problem due to the internet. People can buy any prescription they want over the internet. It seems this is huge problem among church members in general. Perhaps it is time the Word of Wisdom is updated to include the real, current and serious issue of prescription abuse and addiction - taking the place of which grains are good for man versus animals perhaps?

  • KC Fan
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:32 a.m.

    BYU is NOT to blame. That young man is right to shoulder the blame and, at least for the moment, he's showing better judgment than his father.

  • Football Dad
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:30 a.m.

    As I write this I am sitting next to my son who is recovering from his second operation on his knee in two years. Two years to the day as a matter of fact. Both surgeries were major. No one pushed him to play football. No one pressured him to compromise his health and shorten his recovery. It all came from within. He pushed himself for the love of the game he enjoys soo much. He has plenty of other abilities so that his whole life isn't wrapped up in sports. But it is the thing he loves the most. We had already decided before the surgery to very carefully manage his pain, but this article made my wife and I even more vigilant.

  • Dean M.
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:28 a.m.

    I've known Scott and Mary, Bryant's parents, for years. You will never meet a better, kinder, more God-fearing couple, in this world. Their son, Bryant, is the same way. Bryant and his wife, Mindy, aren't looking for excuses nor are they asking for anyone's sympathy. They're just looking to go forward with their lives. It's too easy to judge people without knowing the facts. One thing that this article doesn't address is the tremendous pressure college athletes get put upon them to succeed NOW in behalf of the school. But when injuries and complications arise, too often the athlete is pushed aside in favor of someone else. Good luck to you, Bryant and Mindy. Our prayers are with you.

  • judy allred
    Oct. 27, 2007 10:21 a.m.

    What about the Doctors who keep writing these prescriptions. Shouldn't they be held accountable too? I know several people who's families have been destroyed by Oxycotin and they were all getting them from their doctors. One of my friends husbands went to his doctor for help and came back with a higher dosage.

  • pb
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:56 a.m.

    When people become addicted they will always look for excuses. I am glad to see that Bryant and his wife and taking most of the responsibility but I feel that BYU should in no way be accused. College athletics are competative. Players are supposed to give their best. Same within a working environment. Coaches and schools are not to be blamed for this addiction.

  • Jason
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:50 a.m.

    These two are very lucky to be doing well after addition. They seem to have a strong family backing them, which is invaluable. Crazy as it seems, this couple as the potential to do great things once they have fully broken their addition. I think it was healthy for the parents to let them spend time in jail.

    I don't see BYU's program as being at fault. It seems that a lot of the abuse happened from doctors who weren't associated with BYU. When he says that he searched out doctors who didn't ask questions, the real problem becomes available. Bryant could have quit after his first knee injury, but HE choose to continue. He could have quit after his second injury. It wasn't until the third injury that is addiction began (according to the article). Taking pain killers for that long increases the risk of addition. I believe that if BYU had told him to quit, his family would be screaming that BYU was being too extreem. Bryant was the only one in control, and I admire the way he has taken responsibilty and improved his life.

    Maybe a dad, pushing him hard into football is the problem?

  • Who is to blame
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:47 a.m.

    Scott says he blames his son and BYU. This type of problem happens at high schools and universities and the pros everywhere. Is it the coaches and the schools that make the decision for the player to keep pushing himself/herself in spite of the physical pain that is telling the athlete to stop? Athletes need to take ownership of their situation and not blame coaches. It can be a tough decision to walk away from sports when there are pressures and expectations from friends and family to continue, but it is still the athlete who makes the final decision on whether to take painkillers or walk away. It's surprising to me that even with all the education that goes on about the addictive qualities of painkillers it still happens to people. Of course, some people also still choose to smoke in spite of all the education and evidence against it. People gotta have their drugs, I guess. But it still comes down to the fact it was their decision, not some school or a bunch of coaches or anybody else.

  • Me
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:46 a.m.

    Sports is very demanding, but I've got a problem with the father blaming it on the program. I'm guessing the father pushed his son as much as anyone until he got to college.

  • johnny cobert
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:32 a.m.

    I was a adult probation officer for some 25 years in texas. During those years I saw many good decent law-abiding people fall into a downward spiral because of drugs. Our prisons are full of people who would otherwise not be there if it were not for drugs/alcohol. This young man and his bride are going to make it because they have family supporting them (not enabling them) but showing tough love. To any parent who reads this, who has a child with a drug/alcohol problem, take a deep breath, get on your knees and plead for courage, then get up and do what you know you must do, report them to law enforcement. You will later thank God you did.

  • Not Surprised
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:30 a.m.

    This whole issue Re this one and others are a BIG COP OUT. Go back years ago to Golden Richards days and others of that generation and see if these Prescription and Illegal drugs are not well documented, as to use and to health, and social penalties for users. Warnings and life issues for use have been shown, brodcast, and printed forever. Why do people think they are different and can get away with things that are proven they can!t. Sorry is sports more important than life and health, I don!t think so. Same old story, if your going to dance you gotta pay the FIDDLER.

  • Anonymous
    Oct. 27, 2007 9:16 a.m.

    pressure from a football program, lifes demands, survival of the fittest, media,not feeling like you meet up to the demands of every day pressures, It can lead to self medicating, an escape from it all.

    It's not the answer, having a wonderful wife and oldest son with this addiction, but now clean, As a husband and father of addicts, I would suggest you seek help, because there is help out there.

  • Joel
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:44 a.m.

    Coaches and administrations, at every level, treat kids like puppies. If this batch doesnt work out there is a new batch on the way. Coaches only care about them while they are playing well. The kids have the rest of their lives to live their respective failures, successes, pains and injuries.

  • Anon
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:38 a.m.

    I knew Bryant for a little while when I was on the BYU football team. He's a good kid and it's hard to believe that was going on. Just shows that it can happen to anybody. My prayers go out to him and his wife.

  • BlueBoy
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:36 a.m.

    This article ought to be required reading this weekend for all BYU athletes and coaches.

  • mike b
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:34 a.m.

    This is an important wake-up call to a growing problem in Utah County. I knew both of them while at BYU. They are good people trying to become better. I am happy that Bryant and Mindy are making good progress and working to get their good lives back. I am very grateful that both sets of parents have worked to stay close to them. I admire the strength and times of tough love that helped them make the progress they needed. This is a hard thing to go public about and I am proud of Bryant and Mindy!

  • ryansutes
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:21 a.m.

    A tremendous thanks, to the authors of this piece and to the Atkinson family. It took a tremendous amount of courage on thier part. This is an extremely important topic. As a physician I have seen this story played out numerous times. And it is the main reason I am extremely guarded to prescribe opiates for chronic pain. Obviously this problem exists at all schools and in the professional sports. Years ago, Brett Favre admitted to a similar addiction. Team physicians and coaches need to be more aware of the demands they put on players. It sounds like the Atkinson's are a terrific family and I wish them luck in recovering from this horrible addiction.

  • KP
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:19 a.m.

    Thank you for this article. This is a big problem in our commmunities. It has been around for years. I have had two friends pass away due to complications caused from addictions to pain killers. Both played college sports (two different institutions). Both were injured in college, as was the case in this article.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Chris
    Oct. 27, 2007 8:18 a.m.

    The sad thing is this is not limited to College and Pro sports. This is very rampant in High School football also.

  • Anonymous
    Oct. 27, 2007 7:46 a.m.

    people are quick to blame others for their childrens choices and mistake they make. He put the pressure on himself not the coaches, trainers and doctors to play!

  • JB
    Oct. 27, 2007 7:35 a.m.

    I know Bryant from school. He is a top notch kid who made a couple of mistakes that led him down the road of addicition. It could happen to anyone. I am so glad to see that he has picked his life up and seems to be fairly happy again. There needs to be a lot more monitoring of pain pills by these Doctors. It's playing with fire.

  • Anonymous
    Oct. 27, 2007 7:10 a.m.

    thats too sad....i hope that he gets help as well as his wife...i honestly think we fall into the same catorgory....just some of us can control it....but in anycase its good to know his family is supporting him with this. im still a "BYU FAN" all the way!

  • Camille
    Oct. 27, 2007 6:51 a.m.

    I'm sorry for them. But, I don't think a sport is worth putting your health at risk or lowering ones morals. Nobody is immuned to addiction, not even an athlete. But, part of the blame has to be on the coaches, forcing them to perform before they are ready and have healed. Healing takes time. Let the athlete heal properly without the painpills.

  • GO Red Sox
    Oct. 27, 2007 6:06 a.m.

    Although I like sports, I have always felt the football program at BYU should be scaled back. Even when I went there it produced more embarrassing moments than any other sector of the school, and I bet that was all other sectors combined. In my day it was McMahon, but it seems like it is always someone doing something that gets there names in the paper or is common knowledge around town. I do like sports, but maybe not to this extent at BYU. I say we need a medical school and more music.

  • rick
    Oct. 27, 2007 2:45 a.m.

    my son passed away from od on painkillers this is something that got to stop we need rehabs not jail time if it as easy or a dr to write out the scrip then it should be easy to send to rehab the drug company pulled a fast one over on the drs saying great painkiller with little or no addicive properties now we have a generation of young dying on painkillers

  • Big Problem
    Oct. 27, 2007 2:23 a.m.

    This is a big problem. The pressure to perform as a college athlete must be huge. I am sure it is just as bad at BYU as at any other school with the reward of millions of dollars if you make it into the NFL, I am sure many do whatever it takes to get back on the field. I would hope there is much oversight by coaches and trainers to help these young men/women athletes avoid such addictive pain killers such as OxyContin which is the number one fastest growing drug of choice among teens in Grade school on up. My hopes and prayers are with those suffering with this terrible addiction, as well as with their families.

  • dl
    Oct. 27, 2007 1:26 a.m.

    poor dude. hope he and his wife git over the problem for good.