Last month, the NFL finally acknowledged the relationship between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), becoming the first time in which the league has done so. Was their admission planned, or a half-baked reaction to the cannabis and sports themed fundraiser “When the Bright Lights Fade”?
Concussions are a known risk of any high impact sport—especially football. However, the risk of concussion doesn’t just end on the field, as recent research shows that frequent concussions may be the leading cause of something called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease that can lead to damaging thoughts and even suicidal actions.
The research challenges the NFL’s position on concussions and has caught the attention of current and former NFL players, like Jake Plummer and Eugene Monroe, who now advocate that a solution to this neurodegenerative disease and others may exist in the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD).
CW Botanicals, the creator of the cannabidiol (CBD) rich hemp extract Charlotte’s Web, and the non-profit Realm of Caring Foundation have teamed up to launch the sports-themed fundraiser “When the Bright Lights Fade.” The fundraiser is designed to support research with Johns Hopkins University to examine the relationship between concussions and CTE—and how CBD can potentially provide solutions.
To encourage the participation of the NFL, the NFLPA, and current and former players, CW Botanicals enlisted the support of former NFL players like Plummer, Tatum Bell, Nate Jackson, Reuben Droughns, and Charlie Adams to create a PSA discussing the issues that they and their colleagues experience after leaving the field for the last time. In the video, each of the players discusses his experience with concussions and the internal struggles they’ve experienced since retirement—struggles that have been largely relieved by cannabinoids like CBD.
A mere days after the March 9th launch of the fundraiser, the NFL’s senior VP for health and safety, Jeff Miller, admitted to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce that there is a connection between football-related head trauma and CTE. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., asked Miller if the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases such as CTE has been established, in which Miller replied, “The answer to that question is certainly yes.”
The NFL concedes that there is a connection between concussions and CTE, but they have yet to budge on their stance regarding active players using cannabinoids to treat injuries sustained in the line of duty. The NFL’s focused on keeping their players game-ready, employing a myriad of prescription pain medications that, in most cases, numb the player’s senses while leaving them addicted to the drugs long after their playing days are over. Where is the balance between addictive medications, head trauma, and excitement? Cannabinoids may level the scales.
In an effort to effectuate change for his football brethren and the millions of people who can benefit from CBD, Plummer has recently come out in full support of Charlotte’s Web and the research surrounding the product. He recently appeared on The Dan Patrick Show to discuss “When the Bright Lights Fade” and the experiences he has had with Charlotte’s Web products.
Plummer recently talked to me about how Charlotte’s Web is affecting him, saying, “I feel like I’ve stopped aging since I started taking Charlotte’s Web.” It’s undeniable that Plummer looks great. He described feeling more alert and excited about each day, and he clearly attributes these qualities to his use of CBD. He even joked that, “The thought of returning to the NFL had crossed my mind.” His optimism is contagious and is rooted in a sincere passion for helping his friends and family achieve a higher quality of life.
Since the launch of “When the Bright Lights Fade”, several current NFL players have come out in support of furthering the research of how cannabinoids like CBD can provide solutions to concussions and their symptoms. Eugene Monroe, a current offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, is by far the most outspoken active player in support of the research, with Monroe recently donating $10,000 to the fundraiser—but he that’s not where he stopped.
Through Twitter, Monroe has been advocating the research of CBD, going so far as to call out league Commissioner Roger Goodell. As Monroe continues to publicize his support for CBD research, he has attracted the attention of some misinformed haters who think his advocacy is on behalf of marijuana use for current players.
To the haters, the response is clear: Monroe supports research—he is not advocating the use of marijuana in the NFL.
Fighting For A Solution
I recently caught up with Nate Jackson, a New York Times best-selling author and former NFL tight end, who talked about the epidemic of concussions in the league. I asked Jackson if he thought there was a systematic solution to the issue, to which he responded, “I don’t know if there is a solution. The gun has been fired; they (the players) are the bullets. It’s carnage. That’s the point.”
Jackson speaks metaphorically about players being “bullets,” but is it really a metaphor? When a player thrives in an environment fueled by testosterone and violence, is it not reasonable to consider that they might carry some of that intensity off the field, too?
As we begin to understand the external issues related to concussions and CTE, we have to start asking ourselves if there’s a solution. Jackson put it simply, “Ask the players what works for them.”
NFL, CTE, CBD—Acronyms Of Angst
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The clear connection between concussions and CTE is alarming, but it isn’t an issue without solutions. The willingness of former and current players voicing support of furthering the research for this epidemic is evidence that change is in the air.
For those fans who want to support current and former players in their pursuit of a safer NFL through CBD research, check out “When the Bright Lights Fade“, where donations to the fundraiser can help save the game we all love to watch each weekend. Fans can also be rewarded with things like signed sports memorabilia, VIP concert tickets, exotic getaways, and even a chance for a one-on-one quarterback camp with Plummer.
With medicinal applications of cannabis rapidly evolving, it’s time for the NFL and our communities to evolve as well. Don’t get left behind by subscribing to the same antiquated thinking that the NFL has promoted for decades, because there are alternatives—and a few players are advocating research to implement them in today’s football.