Many professional football players have stepped into the spotlight over the past few months, not to talk shop or wax nostalgic about the glory years, but to call for the NFL to amend its policies against marijuana in an effort to provide its players – the lifeblood of the game — with an effective alternative to dangerous prescription painkillers. However, despite all the noise, neither league officials nor the NFL Players Association appear to be anywhere close to giving players the freedom to smoke weed in an effort to ease chronic pain and other conditions — not even in legal marijuana states.
It is for this reason that players like Derrick Morgan of the Tennessee Titans have stepped up to raise a voice on the issue, applying some pressure at the top, by way of the mainstream media, to try and cleverly persuade the NFL to get serious about studying the potential medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.
During a recent interview with ESPN, Morgan said, “I just take the NFL for their word: If they say that long-term health and player safety are top priorities of the league, then why aren’t you looking into all the options for health care that are out there? It’s definitely incumbent upon them to really delegate some time and some resources to look into it.”
But even though league officials recently expressed some interest for a medical marijuana research project funded by former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told NBC Sports, last month, that while he will listen to the league’s doctors, he does not anticipate it will bring about any change in the NFL drug policy.
There is speculation throughout the sports community that the NFL is not budging on the issue of allowing players to use marijuana, regardless if the consumption is for recreational or medicinal purposes, because there is so much revenue being generated every season by the booze sponsors that the league fears this conflict of interest may destroy profits.
During his first appearance as co-host for ESPN2’s “First Take,” Max Kellerman did not waste anytime calling out the NFL for giving players, like Aldon Smith of the Oakland Raiders, some serious hell for smoking weed while the entire organization glorifies the use of alcohol – a substance that kills 2.5 million people worldwide every single year.
“Why is the NFL testing for marijuana at all? Why? That’s a choice they’re making. This is a league that is in bed with companies that peddle alcohol. They’re sponsored, they take money from companies that say ‘here, drink this.’ In any objective study ever done, the effects of alcohol — certainly, the societal effects — are objectively always worse than marijuana. If the threshold is alcohol, why is the NFL choosing to test for marijuana?”
“The fact that the NFL chooses to do that is, at the very least, hypocritical,” he continued. “They don’t have to make that choice, they don’t have to do that, they choose to.”
Kellerman may be onto something. In 2015, Bud Light, which has been the official beer of the NFL since 2011, renewed its sponsorship through 2022. Anheuser-Busch In Bev paid $1.4 billion for this deal. So, it is conceivable that the league may simply be scared to endorse medical marijuana for fear that it will cause a significant loss in revenue. After all, the alcohol companies are one of the leading groups lobbying to prevent the legalization of cannabis.
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