NFL player David Holloway avoided Opioid Addiction with Alternative pain treatments

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Holloway, a former National Football League (NFL) linebacker who is now a motivational speaker. Holloway is a third-generation major league athlete. His maternal grandfather played in the National Hockey League (NHL) and his father played in the NFL. As Holloway tells it, he grew up around greatness and had the opportunity to learn from the best.

At almost 40, Holloway is in peak health, having avoided the devastation that often accompanies a career in professional football, where injuries almost invariably lead to chronic pain and for many opioid addiction. So many players have succumbed to opioid addiction that a class action lawsuit has been filed against the NFL for the overly liberal dispensing of these drugs to keep players on the field. Many players have had multiple surgeries for their injuries that continue way beyond their retirement, including Holloway’s father, who has had 16 surgeries on his knee alone. And then there are the concussions that leave many players with lifelong cognitive and psychological impairments.

Holloway played college football for four years and then an additional four years in the NFL. He told me that in pro football there is a 100% chance of getting injured and the longer you stay in, the more likely you will have devastating injuries.

I asked Holloway how he had managed to get through his football career without an opioid addiction.One decision that he made was to limit the length of his career. However, that is far from the whole story.

Holloway reported that while most players focus primarily on training for the game, he focused in addition on how to make his body more “durable”. This included strengthening his whole body, stretching therapy, massagediet and supplements. After injuries, he continued these therapies as well as other alternative pain treatments such ice packs and ice baths liberally to reduce inflammation and chronic pain. While other players went to team doctors for pharmaceuticals, Holloway avoided opioid addiction with occasional use of Advil for chronic pain recovery. He also decided to avoid surgeries and injections and at one point refused recommended surgery for a bone injury in his hand.

Since his retirement from the NFL, Holloway has continued to focus on peak health. In fact, we met in an infrared sauna at a facility that also offers full body red/infrared light therapy (photobiomodulation) and cryotherapy (cold therapy). His philosophy is that you only get one body and one mind in your lifetime and it’s important to take care of it.

You can watch my entire interview with David Holloway here:


To learn more about David Holloway and his current career as a motivational speaker and coach, visit his website at

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