Severe brain injuries have become a prominent scourge on the National Football League, devastating the lives of many former players after a career full of physical punishment catches up to them. But as the league’s drug policy currently stands, players can be punished for something that could end up saving their lives — cannabis.
The main threat looming over football players is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or “CTE,” a brain disorder which is the subject of the 2015 film “Concussion” starring Will Smith. CTE is developed after enduring several concussions and smaller hits to the head, and has affected the lives of several of the game’s biggest names, like Hall of Famers Junior Seau and Reggie White. CTE causes depression and dementia, and often eventually leads to death.
A growing amount of both current and former players have rallied behind the use of medical marijuana to treat the sport’s most pressing concern, and with good reason. Many studies have proven the neuro-protective qualities of cannabis can help to preserve, and even regenerate brain cells after traumatic injury.
The number of players who advocate for medical marijuana use and research are now more than enough to field an ironman squad of 10 Pro-MMJ ballers, helping get out the message to commissioner Roger Goodell. Here’s our picks for football’s Pro-Pot Pro Bowl team.
Jim McMahon, QB: The Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the 1985 Chicago Bears found relief from cannabis after treating his diagnosed early onset dementia with the painkiller Percocet. McMahon told the Chicago Tribune in 2016: “This medical marijuana has been a godsend.”
Ricky Williams, RB: Williams is considered to be the first professional football player to strongly support the use of cannabis, even during his playing days. The former Pro Bowler now plans to open a marijuana-friendly gym franchise. Cannabis unlocks “the part of us that connects with something bigger,” he says in “Ricky Williams Takes the High Road,” a documentary released by Sports Illustrated Films.
Randy Moss, WR: Single-season touchdown reception record-holder Moss and six-time Pro bowler said regarding medical marijuana: “The NFL just needs to loosen up the rules and let everybody live.”
Nate Jackson, TE: The former Denver Broncos tight end credits the use of medical marijuana for keeping his brain healthy during his career. He formed the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, a group of former players that support the use of marijuana as medicine. “It kept my brain clean,” Jackson said at a 2015 business conference. “I feel like I exited the game with my mind intact.”
Eugene Monroe, OL: Monroe has challenged all players and league officials to donate money to cannabis research via Twitter, and got released by the cowardly Baltimore Ravens as a result. Monroe retired at 29, fearful that years of punishment may have already taken its toll. We’re moving him to Offensive Tackle.
“Even though my football career is over, I plan to continue to be a vocal advocate for medical marijuana research, particularly as it relates to CTE,” Monroe wrote in his retirement announcement. “More steps need to be taken to curb the overuse of opioids in NFL locker rooms, and I won’t rest until something is done.”
Derrick Morgan, LB: Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan is one of few active players to come out and support cannabis research. We’re having him play Center on our squad.
“In thinking of the benefits that will come from spreading the awareness and the knowledge about this substance, I think greatly outweighs any backlash or ramifications that might come about it,” Morgan told Yahoo Global News. “It’s about not only us, but former players, future players and more so society as a whole.”
Leonard Marshall, DE: After spending over a decade abusing quarterbacks as a feared defensive tackle, the ex-Giant Marshall now vocally advocates for the use of marijuana as an alternative to opioid painkillers. That makes him an Offensive Tackle for medical marijuana.
“I think that CBD, because it is a non-THC component that is derived from marijuana, will definitely play into the hands of the NFL and its players,” Marshall said in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
Kyle Turley, OL: Turley says he has sustained well over 100 concussions throughout his eight-year career as an offensive lineman and credits the use of cannabis for ending his addiction to painkillers. Turley told the Huffington Post in 2015: “There is no excuse for us to say we don’t know enough anymore about [cannabis].”
Chris Kluwe, K: After nine years in the league as a punt kicker, Kluwe uses cannabis to manage pain from four knee surgeries and is now one of 30 former players involved in a study on pot’s medical benefits.
Boo Williams: TE: Starting tight end for the New Orleans Saints Eddie Lee “Boo” Williams has joined Kluwe as one of the 30 former ball players to take part in a monumental cannabis study.
“[Cannabis] is a far better option than the pills that get shoved at players,” Williams told the Daily Beast in 2016.
DeAndre Levy, LB: Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy joins Titans’ Derrick Morgan as the only active players that have spoken out for medical pot. That puts him at Guard.
Jake Plummer, QB (backup): 2005 Broncos Pro Bowler Plummer uses CBD daily and had some choice words for both the league and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who doesn’t believe football causes CTE. Plummer told BSN Denver: “Shame on him for saying that, that billionaire asshole. It’s the worst thing in the world for a guy like that to say.”
Pete Carroll, Head Coach: Seattle Seahawks’ Head Coach Carrol was the former Offensive Coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers who has probably been around cannabis — and endorsed medical cannabis research in 2014.
Mike Florio, Commentator: Sunday Night Football postgame commentator Florio announced his support for medical marijuana through his NBC Sports blog, Pro Football Talk, writing, “The better approach would be for the league and the union to come to an agreement regarding the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.”
TELL US, who’s your favorite cannabis-supporting athlete?
Originally published in Issue 22 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE