To the National Football League, Dr. Arnold Mandell is the gadfly who won't go away.
A respected San Diego psychiatrist whose otherwise faultless reputation was sullied by the San Diego Chargers drug scandal of 1973, he is an outspoken critic of the way the NFL has handled the problem of amphetamine abuse in pro football.
Mandell, who is currently serving a five-year probation and has "gone broke" fighting a move to revoke his medical license and authority to write narcotics prescriptions, continues to speak out and write about the deeprooted abuses he saw during 2 1/2 years as an unpaid psychiatric consultant with the ill-starred Chargers between 1972 and 1974.
"It is generally known that amphetamine abuse entered, became prominent and remains in professional football since the Second World War, soldiers having discovered the drug in their survival kits and used it for competitive advantage playing armed-service football," he wrote at the start of his latest paper on the subject, presented last fall.
It is called, "The Sunday Syndrome: A Unique Pattern of Amphetamine Abuse Indigenous to Professional Football."
Mandell's thesis is that the use of heavy doses of amphetamine by pro football players on game days is not a typical type of drug abuse that can be combatted by education programs and regulations - the methods the NFL has employed - but is rather an entrenched "system disease" that can only be uprooted by the deterrent of random urine or saliva testing.
Whereas some linebackers, defensive backs, running backs and wide receivers might use moderate amounts (5 to 30 milligrams) of amphetamine on game days in largely illusory attempts to increase quickness, fight fatigue and reduce pain of impact, Mandell claims, certain offensive and defensive linesman and "special team" members employ the drug in a unique way unrelated to its use in baseball, basketball and most other sports.
They ingest massive doses, between 60 and 150 milligrams or more, in order to "psych" themselves into a belligerent frenzy.
"The result is a prepsychotic, paranoid rage state," Mandell said in an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine for its series on brutality in football last fall. "A five-hour temper tantrum that produces the late hits, the fights, the unconscionable assaults on quarterbacks that are ruining pro football.
Mandell contends that the practice of taking high doses of amphetamines - used in World War II not only by American soldiers trying to bolster their stamina, courage and killer instincts, but also by Japanese kamikaze pilots before their missions - became an accepted part of the game in the 1960s.
"Harland Svare (former coach-general manager of the Chargers) told me that in his playing days with the N.Y. Giants, they took amphetamines - maybe one or two tablets - when they were hung over, or hadn't slept in a couple of nights, and had to play. It was not a regular thing and didn't alter your state of consciousness so that you were in effect another person," Mandell said.
"The doses some guys take now, it changes them. They can be gentle and friendly most of the week but for a few hours after they take the drugs you would feel frightened to be around them. . .
"I think the major problem with amphetamines in football now is the physical damage people are willing to invoked on themselves as a result of it. It reduces pain and produces killer rage, and both of those effects increase the frequency and severity of injuries."
Mandell developed his portrait of "the Sunday Syndrome" primarily from his observations of the Chargers in 1972-74.
He also interviewed players on other teams. From empirical data he collected on 85 players, he found several patterns: amphetamine, especially in high enough doses to produce "analgesic rage," is used more by older players than young, more by linemen than players in "skill positions" and more by defensive players than offensive ones.
These findings coincide with data collected by Dr. Lee Alan Johnson, who questioned 93 players on 13 teams in 1972 for his doctoral dissertation, "Amphetamine Use in Professional Football," at the U.S. International University in San Diego.
Mandell broke down the usage and dose of amphetamine of the players he interviewed by position, with the following results:
Quarterbacks - One of eight used amphetamine regularly on game days, the dose ranging from 10 to 15 milligrams.
Wide Receivers - Six of 11 were users, taking 5 to 15 milligrams.
Offensive Linemen - Ten of 14 were users, taking 15 to 105 milligrams.
Running Backs - Eight of 11 used doses ranging from 5 to 25 milligrams.
Tight Ends - Two of two used from 10 to 30 milligrams.
Defensive Linemen - Nine of nine used between 30 and 150 milligrams.
Linebackers - Five of nine were users, taking 10 to 60 milligrams.
Defensive Backs - Seven of 11 took from 5 to 20 milligrams.
Nine other players said they took amphetamine "occasionally."
NFL officials have said that the 1973 Chargers - the only team that has been disciplined by the league for drug abuse - were an anomaly, unrepresentative of other teams. Mandell disagrees. He points out that a significant portion of his data was gathered from other teams, and that Lee Johnson's data came from 13 teams. All showed similar patterns.
Mandell readily acknowledges that he has no first-hand contact with professional football since 1974, when he was barred by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle from further contacts with the league or its players as part of the disciplinary action against the Chargers, which also included fines totaling $40,000 levied against the team, owner Eugene Klein, General Manager Svare and eight players.
"I have no idea whether I'm exaggerating or underestimating the amphetamine use in the NFL today," said Mandell. "But I strongly suspect, because it confers such an enormous competitive advantage in certain positions, that it is still widespread."
Johnson agreed. "I know enough players now to know that conditions are similar to what they were five or six years ago," he was quoted by author Don Atyeo in his recently published book, "Blood and Guts." "If you know what to look for an TV, you know who's on pills - they're licking their lips, blinking their eyes. It's a big percentage of the defensive players."
Three years ago, Mandell published a book, "The Nightmare Season," which chronicled his experiences with the 1973 Chargers from training camp, where Klein and Svare set in motion a bold but ill-fated plan to rebuild their team immediately with players other teams had discarded, through a disastrous season to the postseason drug inquiries and disciplinary actions, which Mandell characterizes as an Inquisition and witch hunt.
An absorbing, insightful book, "The Nightmare Season" was, in its broadest sense, both a passionate declaration of love of football and the men who play it, and a sweeping indictment of the "win-at-any-cost" ethos that has permeated the game.
"I think football can be saved, but in a way it's like technology - it's gotten out of control, in the sense that its values at every level are to win, no matter what it costs," said Mandell.
"That was the point of 'The Nightmare Season' - that it was tackle on tackle, all the way to owner on owner, in that type of metaphysic. Okay, human beings need to express that, but does it have to cost so much in human terms?"
When a prepublication copy was reviewed sensationally by the San Diego Union early in 1976, the shrapnel began to fly.
"Gene Klein called and screamed at me that I'd be sorry. He called a press conference and said I had given huge amounts of drugs to players without his knowledge" Mandell said.
"Following that press conference, the heavy stuff started. Investigators began following me. The California Board of Medical Quality Assurance, which had investigated me in connection with the Charges in 1974 and closed its cases, reopened it two years later. The medical community wouldn't press an investigation against me, but the attorney general's office did."
There was a 15-day hearing before the board and a lay hearing officer. Four counts were brought against Mandell.Three were dismissed, but he was found to have "overprescribed amphetaminies" for 11 players. His medical license was revoked (it was immediately reinstated, but he was placed on five years probation) and his federal license to write prescriptions for Schedule 1, 2, 3, and 4 narcotics was taken away.
The case is now under appeal in a California Superior Court in San Diego. Arguments were completed last month - this time before a judge - and a decision is expected late this summer.
"It's been very difficult," Mandell said. "This thing has wiped me out financially. I've lost my savings, my apartment, my car. I have nothing left."
(His woes multiplied recently when he lost a libel suit filed by Dave Williams, a former Charger, who was awarded $250,000 in damages for the way he was portrayed in Mandell's book).
Mandell was reprimanded by the California board for prescribing large amounts of amphetamines for 11 Charger players, on the evidence of prescirption forms discovered by NFL security chief Jack Danahy.
His defense was that all of these players were longtime heavy amphetamine users who, because of new regulations imposed by the NFL in 1971 to curtail the previously common bulk purchase and distribution of amphetamines by team doctors, had switched to using dangerous "street speed" from street-corner drug traffickers. Mandell claims he prescribed amphetamines for these men to get them off impure drugs and onto chemicals he knew to be pure so that he could gradually decrease their dosage.
Medical opinion is divided as to whether this was a legitimate means of dealing with the problem, and this will be a major issue to be decided in Mandell's appeal.
Even though he has come to feel like a 5-foot-6, 130-pound jogger - which he is - lining up against a ferocious 280-pound takcle set on trampling him, Mandell has continued to bait the NFL on what he considers unrealistic and heavy-handed attempts to cover up its most urgent problem. He continues to make waves.
"It appears that before anything constructive can be done," he wrote in 'The Sunday Syndrome,' "the circumstances must be assessed and the problems acknowledged by the governing institutions of the sport itself."
Next: Restoratives CAPTION: Picture, Dr. Arnold Mandell: "The result . . . a five-hour temper tantrum."