While reading some NFL stories, I found this article from Mike Freeman, who I generally enjoy reading and is a pretty well-known writer in the NFL world. With the pending and nebulous NFL policy changes regarding cannabis coming down the line (theoretically in the next few months), marijuana and the NFL are trending together.
Freeman opens his article with, “It is a question that has been asked repeatedly over the past few days. Asked by everyone. Asked by players in the NFL. Coaches as well. Same with owners, fans and media. The question is this: How does a man potentially throw away a career, tens of millions of dollars and all he has worked for his entire life… to smoke weed?”
Attempting to look at this through non-Weedist eyes, I can see that side of it. To the onlooker, it does seem like a silly choice to risk your NFL career (ostensibly, your greatest dream) just to get baked and have a good time. In fact, exchange cannabis for cocaine, meth or prescription pills (even alcohol), and I’ll agree with you completely. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. The same could be said about Michael Vick and his dog fighting or any number of professional athletes who have stupidly danced outside the law and been caught. Being young and dumb is not a novelty unique to the NFL.
The difference, then, is in the outcome and intentions. Freeman, in his piece, actually started to touch this point quite effectively before abandoning it. “There are a handful of players who use marijuana as a sort of crutch, I’m told. It’s not an addiction, these players say, but there is still heavy use. Pot is more of a comfort blanket than a necessity. It helps them cope with not just the brutality of the sport but the every day stress it presents: dealing with coaches, the media, the pressure of winning, the pain of losing.”
Can we not extrapolate that to life in general? Cannabis helps me cope with the pressures of life, the struggle to succeed, the suffocation of failure. In this light, cannabis can possibly play a tremendous role in boosting player health, more like a vitamin or an anti-depressant than a true-blue drug. Worse is that players are happily directed toward pharmaceutical solutions but punished for self-medicating with cannabis.
In the grind of things, a player might lose sight of the millions they make and the trajectory of their career. They are more likely singularly focused on the next play, the next game, making the playoffs. In that sort of “in the trenches” mindset, being able to simply go on and maintain your level of production becomes paramount. Cannabis is the perfect day-to-day multifunction solution. It helps pain, reduces inflammation, soothes a heavy mind, assists relaxation and, even if used purely for fun, is much safer than alcohol or the litany of “real” drugs.
Why risk it? The better question is, why is using cannabis considered “risking it?” I fully understand that these players sign contracts and are bound to certain agreements, from that angle I see the risk/stupidity element a little clearer. But that doesn’t change the fact that the real problem is how cannabis is viewed and classified. In a world where peanuts and Tylenol kill more people annually than cannabis, this seems like such a colossal waste of time and energy for the NFL to be taking it so seriously and damning many talented players to penalties and obscurity.
My question is for the NFL: When are you going to act right?