One of the clearest benefits of medical marijuana is its ability to help with pain management. Retired football players like Hank Bauer are clear on how CBD can reduce pain and, in particular, how it does not come with the addiction and other side effects associated with opiate based drugs. He is promoting its use among other retired football players and they seem to be embracing it. If retired football players can clearly see the benefits of medical marijuana, how long will it take the NFL?
Jim Plunkett arrived at a celebrity golf tournament in Palm Springs on a warm May day this year expecting the usual banter with fellow former NFL stars.
He got paired with ex-San Diego running back Hank Bauer, who had come to the PGA West Stadium golf course with an added agenda.
The men shared a golf cart and stories about their era of feral football before coming around to how their bodies were breaking down like old, plastic skeletons. Bauer, known as “Hank the Howitzer” while playing for the Chargers, had been holding similar conversations with former players for the past year. He had come to the desert with something to help.
Bauer handed Plunkett a bottle. “Try it, what have you got to lose?” he asked the quarterback who won two Super Bowls with the Raiders during a 15-year NFL career.
After years of managing pain through the use of alcohol, nonprescription anti-inflammatory drugs and highly addictive opioids, some former football players are turning to cannabis for relief. Mostly through word-of-mouth exchanges, interest in the drug has increased as 29 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medicinal and, in some cases, recreational use.
But while America speeds along a road to marijuana acceptance, the old-guard NFL’s stance against players’ use remains at a standstill on an issue that has confounded the country for decades.
The door may have creaked open slightly this summer as the image-conscious NFL absorbs mounting pressure from ex-players fed up with a league they say turned them into pill poppers and brain-damaged seniors.
Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged for the first time that officials want to work with the NFL Players Association to determine whether medical marijuana can provide a safe alternative to soothe the physical ailments that come with football’s G-force collisions.
Goodell’s concession came after the union last year created a pain management committee to develop a best practices policy it hoped would lead to a diminished role for opioids, which have been part of football’s medical playbook for decades.
“What we have proposed to the union is before we change the policy, relax it, strengthen it, turn it upside down, we need to do more research on the pain management qualities” of cannabis, said Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s chief communications strategist.