Monroe Makes A Strong Case For Weed In The NFL
If I was standing next to Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, you would be hard pressed to point out what, if anything, we share in common besides an affinity for the Ravens. However, Monroe has published an article, “Getting Off The T Train,” through the Players’ Tribune, the online platform that gives professional athletes a medium to candidly share their reflections and thoughts directly with fans. I’ve read some great pieces on the Players’ Tribune, but I’m proud to have had a Baltimore Raven be the one to take on this issue.
He’s the first active NFL player to openly advocate for the use of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain and head injuries. In the article, he implores the NFL and NFLPA to make changes by removing marijuana from the banned substances list, funding medical marijuana research especially as it relates to CTE, and the halting of overprescribing addictive and harmful opioids.
His stance is supported both on the basis of the changing face of the medical marijuana debate across the nation, and the needed treatment with opioids of athletes at almost every level after serious injury. Much to my surprise, considering our incongruous levels of athletic ability, Eugene and myself both suffered the same injury that necessitated multiple surgeries.
In the process of my recovery, I ended up developing a bit of a fondness for the large pink Percocet pills that I was prescribed. They provided much more than just pain relief; they made me feel happy, coupled with this feeling of comfort and unwavering confidence. I can’t tell you how many of my days in college were spent ditching afternoon classes in favor of playing “Tony Hawk” in the dark of my dorm room, happily enjoying my prescription opioids without a care in the world.
Considering the level of supervision a professional medical staff for an NFL organization has on their players, I’m not concerned about current professional athletes isolating themselves in the dark with their video games and pills.
What concerns me is what happens after these players retire and the medical oversight disappears.
With age, the injuries suffered from a career of football are only further compounded. Is it really a surprise that retired athletes continue to rely on the same course of opioid treatment that they once received under the care of their former teams?
Monroe’s stories about lining up for Toradol injections seems like a pretty G-rated version of what was going on not too long ago considering stories like this one that came on in 2014 regarding prescription painkiller practices. The NFL runs on piles of painkillers.
Marijuana for the NFL
Consider Ex-Bear Jim McMahon, who up until 2010, had been “taking 100 Percocet pills a month for pain in his shoulders, neck, and arms.” How did McMahon overcome this significant level of opioid dependence?
He got a medical marijuana card in Arizona after the state approved medicinal marijuana in 2010, later going on to say, “this medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain…” Each time I see an NFL player suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a positive marijuana test, I’m appalled that it carries the same penalty as if a player was smoking angel dust like Aaron Hernandez.
I’m actually kind of bitter that the Ravens didn’t draft Laremy Tunsil as they had originally planned. If the Raven’s history of draft success is any indication, Tunsil must be legit if they wanted him first. They of course passed on him as a result of the gas mask bong video released by a former finance manager moments before the draft.
As an aside, am I missing out on this whole bong gas mask thing? Is this a thing now? Is it so you can do stuff like hold your phone with your hand not occupied working the lighter and slide?
Back to Monroe who has backed up his support of this issue with hefty donations to medicinal marijuana related research. He has even turned his personal website, eugenemonroe.com, into a resource for information on cannabinoids as pain management. Despite the fact that current NFL players could potentially benefit from the use of cannabinoids as neuroprotectants, the reality is that the NFL will sit back on this issue and wait on a change at the federal level before even considering a shift in their stance in anything related to marijuana. Unfortunately, I don’t think the NFL will ever let go of the sting they felt when Ricky Williams chose weed over football.
Roger Goodell – The Billionaires’ Captain
The NFL is shady. Not like Russian Olympic Doping shady, but shady enough that they have significant incentive to do what is necessary to protect the sanctity of their game; the core of a business whose revenue surpasses that of 56 countries. The NFL has even gone so far as to take pages from the playbook of big tobacco by attempting to manipulate research on safety concerns regarding concussions.
Since the article by Monroe, we can already see how the NFL has helped frame the news. See headlines such as “Pro-Medicinal Marijuana NFL Player Unafraid of Backlash” from MSNBC, and “Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe not worried about how his stance on medical marijuana affects his NFL future” from ESPN. It’s not a big surprise that Baltimore Ravens Coach Harbaugh responded with, “I promise you, he does not speak for the organization,” in a play of
diplomacy for fear of bringing down additional scrutiny from the NFL powers that be.
Bottom line, I’m glad Eugene Monroe took this stance. With one current player acting as an advocate for this cause, hopefully other change-makers in the NFLPA will show their support. I hope change will come as the debate over marijuana legalization continues to be public rather than abruptly quieted under the guise of federal guidelines. I’m getting a Monroe jersey even if I have to special order it.