01.05.2016
policy

Are You the Jerk Who Wants to Tell NFL Players They Can't Do Weed?

If they're man enough to play football, they're man enough to smoke weed.

Nate Jackson and Kyle Turley are a pair of ex-NFL players who believe it is time to allow NFL warriors the dignity of deciding whether or not they want to smoke marijuana. Jackson played six seasons at tight end for the Denver Broncos. Turley, a 10-season offensive tackle, was employed by the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs.

There is no safe way to play professional football. Will Smith is currently starring in Concussion, as a crusading doctor the National Football League was unable to muffle. The facts at the basis of Concussion’s plotline are brutal, simple, and unavoidable: The league’s players, past and present, are riddled with, or will be riddled with, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that comes from getting hit in the head. Getting hit in the head happens a lot in football.


Between them, Jackson and Turley rattle off Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Percocet, Toradol, Celebrex, Vioxx, and HGH [human growth hormone] as substances procured through NFL-approved channels and taken to either prepare players to take the nationally televised field or deal with trauma received while on that stage.

We, as football fans and the people who profit from the game and the governing bodies that control it, take our pleasure and income and derive our power at the expense of grown men inflicting this mind-dumbing trauma on one another. We grant the gridiron gladiators who wear our city’s colors the dignity of making their own choices—to the extent that these grown men freely elect to engage in an activity that is almost certain to figuratively bash out their brains.

We withhold from them the decision to consume marijuana, a substance that is legally obtained as a medical agent in nearly half the United States of America.

According to a report in the Guardian, Turley (who recently formed the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, a group of retired NFL players advocating for medical marijuana) and Jackson (author of the football memoir Slow Getting Up) assert that marijuana is already a fact of pro football life:

“Players need medication, like it or not, to go back on the field every week,” Jackson said. “Marijuana’s already keeping the game afloat. Roughly half of those guys are already using it every week. They have to keep it a secret, though. If they get caught they get fined or suspended. It’s a really uncompassionate stance to take.”

The NFL's uncompassionate stance of testing players for weed use began during the 1980s. New scientific research—such as recent studies by Harvard professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon that indicate cannabis alleviates the effects of concussions—makes that stance more outdated with each passing year.

Currently, according to the Guardian report, players are tested once per year during the preseason, which gives the athletes leeway—if not authorization—to medicate with weed during the bulk of the active year.

Jackson, Turley and other NFL advocates for doing away with marijuana testing, such as Seattle Seahawk’s head coach Pete Carroll, are careful to stress that their crusade for medical marijuana is not advocating for recreational use.

But come on. Why not just let these guys relax with a bong and a complementary Netflix account? They’ve earned it. And no way will a few bowls of “medicine” make them any foggier than the dangerous work they do every week for our vicarious pride and civic glory.

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