Renowned Bleacher Report writer Mike Freeman has a fascinating article that you need to read about the state of marijuana use by current NFL players as “an invaluable painkiller.”
Speaking with former NFL running back Jamal Anderson, Freeman heard an account of the widespread use of marijuana as an additional method of pain relief amongst active players, an account that runs against the league’s hard-nosed stance on substance abuse.
Anderson remembers the prevalent use of marijuana when he was in the game. It was used for enjoyment but also as treatment for the aches and bruises caused by professional football.
“When I played, 40 to 50 percent of the league used it,” Anderson said recently.
Anderson stays in regular contact with players now, and he believes the number of NFL players who use marijuana has grown significantly since he was a Falcon. He’s not alone. Current players say marijuana use in the sport is extensive, with many using the drug to deal with the ramifications of head trauma. One player said in an interview he believes smoking marijuana helped prevent him from attempting suicide.
Anderson goes on to assume that as much as 60% of the league’s players are more than likely using now, a number that seems staggeringly high when you take into account that NFL players are regularly drug-tested.
At a time when the dangers of professional football are more widely talked about than ever and marijuana is increasingly becoming legalized around the world why does the league feel like it needs to lord over players that prefer to utilize it as a natural alternative to prescription pills?
Perhaps this is merely a case of turning a blind eye. While for the first time in our nation’s history with the War on Drugs, the majority of Americans favor marijuana legalization, 42% of the populace still doesn’t agree with newly-passed pro-pot regulations.
This might explain why so many players say that it’s stupidly easy to pass an NFL player’s routine drug tests, a fact further expanded upon in the court case of former Patriot’s tight-end Aaron Hernandez earlier this year. Freeman’s article breaks it down even further:
The collective bargain agreement states that players not in the substance-abuse program due to a violation are subject to one test for substances of abuse, including marijuana, from April 20 through Aug. 9. But to save costs, one team union official explained, much of the testing is done during training camp because all of the players are in one place.
Then a player is not tested again until the following year. The only way that would change is if someone is stupid enough to smoke near, or during, that predictable testing window.
“You know when the test is,” one player said, who is also a union official. “Once you pass it, you can do as much as you want all year.”
When you factor in the physical toll that this, the world’s most grueling sport, requires, it seems like a no-brainer to offer players a natural alternative to popping pain killers, but in response to Freeman’s story, the NFL only offered up this official statement:
“On the issue of medical marijuana, the medical advisors to our drug program tell us that there is no need for medical marijuana to be prescribed to an NFL player.”
There’s a bit more to their explanation in the article, but all the opinions on why weed would be officially but not officially banned as a method to cure players of aches and pains from the game can be summed by the following gif:
Do head over to Bleacher Report to check out Banned, but Bountiful: Marijuana Coveted by NFL Players as Invaluable Painkiller.
Related: The Truth about Marijuana