Marijuana and football are not typically buzz words that come up in the same conversation. However, pot jargon was thrown around as much as the pigskin during this year’s Super Bowl as, both teams – the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos – hail from states that recently legalized marijuana. Although use of medical marijuana in the NFL remains a punishable violation by league standards, growing support from players and coaches has some wondering if there may be validity in the drug’s medicinal benefits.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ryan Clark suggests NFL players and teammates advocate smoking marijuana for a number of reasons, especially to relieve pain and manage stress. Clark, a 12-year veteran, discussed the issue of marijuana use Thursday morning on ESPN’s “First Take.”
“I know guys on my team who smoke,” Clark said. “And it’s not a situation where you think, ‘Oh, these guys trying to be cool.’ These are guys who want to do it recreationally.
“A lot of it is stress relief. A lot of it is pain and medication,” Clark goes on. “Guys feel like, ‘If I can do this, it keeps me away from maybe Vicodin, it keeps me away from pain prescription drugs and things that guys get addicted to.’ Guys look at this as a more natural way to heal themselves, to stress relieve and also to medicate themselves for pain. Guys are still going to do it.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll lit up headlines when he agreed that the league should research medicinal marijuana to see if it may benefit players. However, it appears as though the NFL will not be entertaining any such notions as of yet.
With the marijuana debate blazing in lieu of the Super Bowl, Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the issue last Friday at his annual Super Bowl news conference, downplaying the possibility of the league removing marijuana from its list of banned substances.
“It is still an illegal substance on a national basis,” Goodell said. “It’s something that is part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players. It is questionable as to the positive impacts, in the face of the very strong evidence of the negative effects, including addictions and other issues.
“We’ll continue to follow the medicine,” Goodell continued. “Our experts right now are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way. We are not actively considering that at this point in time. But if it goes down the road sometime, that’s something that we would never take off the table.”
As marijuana use in the United States becomes more widely accepted and supported, the NFL’s stance will undoubtedly be under review in future. Currently, medicinal marijuana is legal in 20 states, plus the District of Columbia. With continued progress made around the country to legalize the substance – both medicinally and recreationally, it may be high time to reevaluate Goodell’s out-dated views on marijuana.