NFL still prefers pharmaceuticals over cannabis and CBD for player safety
NFL remains hypocritical on player safety by accepting the risks of Toradol and other pain killers but ignoring the potential benefits of medical marijuana and CBD.
By Jason Sander
American Football is the most popular organized team game in the United States and boasts the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world. With an annual NFL revenue of 10 billion, American football is fun to watch for millions of fans – both at home in our country and around the world. However, the sad truth for many current and former players is that the toll the game takes on their bodies is anything but fun. Football can be a brutal, violent game, with lifelong injuries and chronic pain being something that follows many players for life.
NFL League Policy Does Not Reflect Players’ Views on Cannabis
As advocates of the plant medicine can attest to, cannabis can help treat a myriad of ailments, including chronic pain suffered by most players. Dozens of retired NFL players either admit to consuming cannabis during their careers or think that the league should stop testing for it. Former players who are outspoken about their cannabis advocacy include wide receiver Randy Moss, defensive end Chris Long, and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.
Many current players would likely agree, but speaking out about or admitting to their consumption of cannabis could have a lasting impact on their careers. It could even mean they face suspensions or are no longer in the league. Former running back Ricky Williams is perhaps the most well-known case of a player being suspended for violating the substance abuse policy due to his use of cannabis. CBS rejected a multi-million dollar advertisement that advocated cannabis legalization during 2019’s Super Bowl. Many proponents of legalization believe the rejection was mainly due to pressure from NFL executives. The league also made former punter Pat McAfee submit to a drug test because he made a joke Tweet about 420.
Despite these issues that currently exist in the NFL, at least league officials are beginning to listen to players when it comes to advocating medical cannabis treatment for pain management. The NFLPA recently held a forum on CBD to discuss its merits for pain management. However the league refuted the benefits due to a lack of research. This slow progress for sure, but at least the league is starting to listen to its players. After all, without the players, there would be no league. And with no league, means billions less for NFL owners.
Retired Players Enter the Legal Cannabis Space
Instead of fighting a battle against the league regarding cannabis, several former players have taken to using their fame and fortune to start their own businesses. Years removed from the game, Ricky Williams started his own legal cannabis brand in Winter 2018. Williams said he had “trained for 14 years as a healthcare practitioner.”
There are other former players who say they see the benefits of cannabis medicine and have started their own companies in the sector, such as Steelers running back Franco Harris and Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. Both players have won multiple Super Bowls and are legends to their fans.
Can Cannabis Treat Football-Related Head Injuries?
Head and brain injuries like concussions can degrade someone’s quality of life forever. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a serious condition that was originally discovered in the brains of deceased football players in 2002 by medical doctor Bennet Omalu. As more studies on deceased players are conducted, evidence of the condition is found in their brains more often than not. There has been some discussion on whether cannabis can treat CTE, but more research must be conducted for anyone to take an informed stance on the matter.
The Future of Cannabis in Football
Even though cannabis consumption is still a violation of NFL policy, there is only one drug test per year that players must submit to. Many players believe that shouldn’t be the case at all. Top NFL doctors have at least listened to cannabis advocates, but nothing has been acted upon yet. The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ends at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Representatives for the Player’s Association believe that concessions will be made to the league’s substance-abuse policy, allowing players to consume cannabis if prescribed medically to treat their chronic pain and other ailments. Only time will tell how this plays out.
About the author: Jason Sander is a versatile writer and marketer with fifteen years of experience serving clients. He couples this expertise with a passion for cannabis businesses and the science of medical marijuana.