Ignoring Prevalence of Opioid Painkillers In the League, Goodall Calls Cannabis ‘Unsafe’ and ‘Unhealthy’ for NFL Players
Even though a majority of states across America have legalized cannabis for either medicinal purposes, recreational use, or both, the National Football League isn’t quite ready to join the 21st Century yet.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday morning claimed marijuana has an “addictive nature” and may not “be healthy for the players long term,” reports Scott Rafferty at Rolling Stone. He said for that reason, he won’t remove it from the league’s banned substances list.Goodell said on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” radio show that marijuana likely won’t be cleared by the NFL anytime soon as a pain-relief alternative, reports The Sports Xchange.
His move is particularly ironic, even tragic, because of the prevalence of harsh pharmaceutical opioid painkillers in the league. Big Pharma products like OxyContin, Fentanyl, and various permutations of oxycodone and hydrocodone are the go-to “solutions” for football injuries in the league. This is despite their addictive nature and debilitating side-effects, neither of which is a major factor with cannabis.
“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said, reports Michael David Smith at NBC Sports. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players?
“Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say,” Goodell said, apparently unaware of edibles and vaping. “It does have addictive nature.“There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term,” Goodell said. “All of those things have to be considered.
“And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game,” Goodell condescended.
“We look at it from a medical standpoint,” the commissioner claimed. “So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that.” One wonders exactly with whom Goodell has been talking.
“To date, they haven’t said this is a change we think you should make that’s in the best interests of the health and safety of our players,” Goodell claimed. “If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that. But to date they haven’t really said that.”Since many former NFL players have criticized and even sued the league over its reckless use of opioid painkillers in the past, Goodell’s hypocrisy about cannabis is stunning.
Court papers showed that thousands of doses of powerful prescription narcotic painkillers were handed out to players during the 2012 NFL season, according to CBS Baltimore. Eugene Monroe, a former tackle with the Baltimore Ravens, was one player to speak out on the issue. Monroe said his use of Vicodin and oxycodone “changed who I was during the time that I took them.”
Monroe wrote a 2016 article for The Players’ Tribune about the NFL’s over-reliance on opioids. In the piece, he urged the league to remove cannabis from the banned substances list.The NFL Players Association has said it plans to propose changes to the league’s current substance abuse policy, arrived at through collective bargaining, reports Nicki Jhabvala at The Denver Post. Urine drug tests, allowed under the policy, currently set a limit of 35 nanograms per milliliter of THC.
The NFLPA hasn’t revealed the exact changes it will be proposing. That could be raising the allowable THC limit, or even removing cannabis from the list altogether. “We want to take a less punitive approach to marijuana, but it won’t necessarily be removed from the banned substances list,” said George Atallah, the union’s assistant executive director, in a statement to The Denver Post earlier this month.But Ricky Williams, the former running back and marijuana advocate, said at a recent panel that the union is proposing to take cannabis completely off the list of banned substances and stop testing players for the herb in the offseason.
“I think right now the NFL Players Association is moving to propose that cannabis is taken off the banned substances list and recognizing that it’s not an abuse problem, but it’s a health issue,” Wiliams said at the 2017 CannMed event last week.
The players’ association declined to comment on Goodell’s recent remarks.
“[T]he NFL is almost always conservative by nature,” writes Will Brinson at CBS Sports. “It is very rarely ahead of the curve when it comes to what society changes for society in terms of being acceptable and appropriate.”