When former Denver Broncos star Nate Jackson came clean and spoke about the benefits of his cannabis use to help him with numerous injuries and ailments, other players, not just from the NFL, but from all over the sports world started showing their support for legalization. Some athletes have even decided to get into the business in the hopes that they will be able to help fellow players and regular people who benefit from marijuana.
The Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman published an extensive report that includes 16 NFL players who all agree that marijuana is a beneficial drug and should be administered in the NFL. The report begins with Jamal Anderson, the running back who rushed for over 5,000 yards while playing for the Atlanta Falcons. He retired in 2001 after an eight-year career and he revealed how common marijuana use was when he was in the game. He claims it was used for enjoyment but also as treatment for the aches and bruises caused by professional football. Anderson stays in touch with players now and he told The Bleacher Report that he believes the number of NFL players who use marijuana has grown significantly. According to the article, current players also say marijuana use in the sport is major, with many players using it to deal with head trauma. One player said he believes smoking marijuana helped prevent him from attempting suicide.
The Bleacher Report conducted interviews over the course of a month with 16 current unidentified players. Those interviews uncovered that the league is a “world where players who have not failed an NFL drug test, and therefore aren’t subjected to multiple tests, smoke weed weekly after games and occasionally after tough regular-season practices. Some of these players said many of their teammates and opponents smoke marijuana three to four times a week, depending on the time of season and the physicality of practices and games.”
Ten of the 16 players said at least 50 percent use regularly (regularly was defined as two to three times a week). Two said 10 percent, two said 70 percent and one refused to quantify but said “a s–tload.” One player who said he does not use marijuana put the number of users at 10 to 15 percent. The other 15 players said they did smoke. With about 1,700 players in the sport, that’s about 170 players who use pot.
15 of the 16 players in the survey used cannabis and all of them described using it for medicinal purposes, while four said they also used it for recreational reasons. All 15 said they used it after games to ease the soreness and injuries. None of them revealed where they bought the marijuana or how many ounces a week they smoke.
One player told The Bleacher Report that marijuana ended what he described as a borderline drinking problem. Another said past chronic knee and shoulder issues were almost gone. Players say that for some in the NFL, marijuana is part of a weekly ritual to handle the toughness of an NFL game week.
According to the article, “The players also describe using weed like drinking a glass of wine with dinner. There are no tales of abuse, only—and this is the best word to describe it—relief. Players view marijuana as a savior, as key to their survival in the sport as a good quarterback or smart head coach.”
One veteran linebacker went as far as to admit that after he got a concussion, an NFL team trainer asked him to use marijuana. The trainer told him not to tell anyone on the team or tell anyone from the NFL. The player told The Bleacher Report that he believes marijuana extended his career and not only helped heal his concussions faster but also may have helped him prevent a suicide attempt because of all of the head trauma.
As for the league making changes to its marijuana policy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league would “follow the science” when it came to marijuana and the NFL.
The NFL responded to The Bleacher Report’s story with a statement that read: “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.”
The league also included that “non-medical marijuana usage is a violation of federal law in every state other than Washington and Colorado; after the referendum in those two states, the NFL Players Association sent a memo to remind the players that it’s illegal and prohibited under our policy; the NFL has relied on experts on substance-abuse disorders and addiction and has asked them to make recommendations, and to date they haven’t recommended any change; there are other medications doctors can use for effective treatment of pain; if the science shows it, and there is a rigorous process in place to determine that the only drug that could help is medical marijuana, then we would consider allowing it in necessary cases.”
You can read the entire in-depth report here.