The parents of former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman John Matuszak acknowledged that their son battled his chronic back pain with prescribed and illegal drugs.
Matuszak's parents reacted swiftly to the announcement Tuesday by the Los Angeles County coroner's office that their son died of an accidental overdose of a mild narcotic painkiller. The coroner also found non-lethal traces of cocaine in Matuszak's system."We are not unmindful of the problems our son had in his battle against chronic pain and his resulting use of drugs, both prescription and otherwise," Marv and Audrey Matuszak said in a statement released within minutes of the coroner's report.
The Matuszaks were in Hayward, Calif., Wednesday for a private memorial service and could not be reached for further comment. Al Davis, the Raiders' managing general partner, and former coach John Madden were to deliver eulogies. Matuszak, who died June 17 in a Burbank hospital, was buried last week in Oak Creek, Wis.
"At the proper time, we will have things to say about substance abuse and the scoundrels in the medical profession who recklessly dispense prescription drugs and the parasites of society who distribute illicit drugs from back alleys to fashionable condominiums," the Matuszaks said.
"For now, however, we do not wish the dark side of these realities to detract from the celebration of the good and great deeds of this kind and wonderful man - our son."
Their statement was released in Los Angeles by Kathy Pinckert, who said she was John Matuszak's publicist for the last five years.
Tests also showed traces of a byproduct of cocaine, but that was not considered to have contributed to Matuszak's death, coroner's spokesman Bob Dambacher said.
"The manner of death is listed as an accident," Dambacher said.
Also contributing to Matuszak's death were an enlarged heart and pneumonia, Dambacher said.
Matuszak, 38, had been given a prescription for Darvocet early on the morning of June 17, Dambacher said. Darvocet is a combination of two drugs: propoxyphene, a mild narcotic painkiller found in Darvon, and acetaminophen, the painkiller found in Tylenol, Anacin-3, Panadol and Tempra.
High doses of propoxyphene "taken for prolonged periods may lead to physical dependence on the drug. However, it is less addictive than other similar drugs, and most people are able to stop treatment without difficulty," according to the American Medical Association's "Guide to Prescription And Over-The-Counter Drugs."