As the Big Game looms in Arizona, the topic of marijuana is on the minds of former star players of the National Football league. In fact, three of them came together to write a piece for The Huffington Post, where they called for the loosening of penalties for marijuana use in the NFL and even the consideration of using marijuana to treat players for concussions, pain relief and other ailments.
Marvin Washington is a retired 11-year NFL veteran, a Super Bowl XXXIII champion and retired players CTE/Concussion advocate. He is currently a spokesman and advisory board member for KannaLife Science, a phyto-medical company. Brendon Ayanbadejo is a Super Bowl XLVII and equal rights champion and he retired from the NFL after 13 years. Ayanbadejo is currently working for Fox Sports as an analyst/writer and sits on the executive board of Athlete Ally. Scott Fujita is a retired 11-year NFL veteran and Super Bowl XLIV champion. He currently works as a TV/film consultant, NFL broadcaster and sports writer. Scott is also a big supporter of human rights and other causes.
The players wrote that the “NFL is the preeminent sports league in the U.S. but it is woefully behind the curve when it comes to marijuana and players are suffering as a result. Many former and current NFL players use or have used marijuana to treat pain associated with injuries sustained on the field. There is a compelling body of research showing that marijuana can help treat pain and brain injuries.”
The piece also points out how about a year ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell openly talked about his wanting to consider the medical use of marijuana for players. He said, “We’ll continue to follow the medicine… that’s something we would never take off the table if we could benefit our players at the end of the day.” But the former players explain that since those comments, nothing has moved forward on the issue.
They wrote, “It is time for Roger Goodell to make good on that promise. The NFL should lead the way in developing a more rational and science-based approach to marijuana. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, abundant evidence already exists regarding the medical potential and benefits of marijuana…It just so happens that this week’s Super Bowl is being played in Arizona, a state that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.”
The players went on to outline three things that the league needs to do in order to safely and efficiently implement marijuana into the league. First, they feel the NFL should “allocate financial resources to advance medical research on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating brain injuries.” They explained how a compound in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) has shown “scientific potential to be an antioxidant and neuroprotectant for the brain. In a sport where closed head injuries are common, the league should be doing everything it can to help keep their players healthy during and after their careers.” They also called for investigations in seeing if cannabis can better treat what they call the league’s “industrial disease”, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Second, they feel the NFL should abandon its policy of drug testing and punishing players for use of marijuana. They wrote, “The NHL does not include marijuana among its banned substances and, just this month, the NCAA announced that it plans to re-examine its approach to drug testing student-athletes for non-performance enhancing drugs like marijuana because ‘they do not provide a competitive advantage.’”
Finally, the former players asked the NFL to “take a leadership role in addressing racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement as well as other injustices caused by ineffective prohibitionist policies…According to the ACLU, African Americans are far more likely than other Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession even though they are no more likely to use or possess marijuana. This basic injustice should be of particular concern to the NFL given that more than two-thirds of all current players are African American.”
The players closed their eye-opening piece by proclaiming that “there is no place any longer, either in the NFL or the nation at large, for the injustices and hypocrisies of prohibitionist marijuana policies. It’s time for the NFL to be a leader and create a rational and science-based marijuana policy.”
So far, there has been no comment from the National Football League or its commissioner, Roger Goodell.