Former NFL players and medical marijuana advocates have been using what is probably the largest platform of the entire year to get their point across: Super Bowl Week.
A panel, comprised of the NFL greats and experts, discussed medical marijuana as a natural alternative to opiates for treatment of sports injuries, especially concussions, all too common among football players.
Marijuana is currently on the list of substances banned by the NFL, but several former players are hoping to change that. If an NFL player tests positive for weed, he can be fined, suspended or kicked out of the league.
Members of the panel included former New Orleans Saints lineman Kyle Turley, who said he became addicted to opioids prescribed to him for injuries sustained as a college and professional football player.
“[I had] constant thoughts of suicide and depression and rage and all these things that were neurologically disrupting my life, and I can’t say enough about making that transition,” said Turley.
Turley said back in 2015 that he would have considered another sport if he had known the long-term effect that prescription painkillers, taken during his eight-year NFL career, would have on his body. Turley was part of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2014 over the use of painkillers prescribed by league teams.
Now, Turley doesn’t use anything but cannabis.
“I don’t take an aspirin to this day, an Aleve, an Advil, nothing. I have a strict cannabis regiment that I use,” he explained.
Jim McMahon, former NFL quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion, has also been open with his struggles with opiate addiction.
“Marijuana is not a drug,” said McMahon. “It’s a medicinal herb. Drugs happen only when man puts their hands on it.”
McMahon’s mission is to remove the stigma related to cannabis and promote its benefits, not just for current and former NFL players, but for the general public, reported Click2Houston.
“It’s proven to help millions of people. There are no side effects other than you may get a little hungry,” added McMahon, “[but] it’s never killed anybody.”
Eddie “Boo” Williams, former New Orleans Saints tight end, talked about how he lost all hope five years ago and planned to kill himself on the railroad tracks near the team’s headquarters.
He survived, thankfully, and now spends his time as a speaker and advocate for ex-players struggling with depression and head injuries.
“I went through a real bad depression and laid down on the railroad tracks and tried to commit suicide myself so it was just by the grace of God that I found God and found cannabis as well,” said Williams.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines covered the event, which event producer Rory Mendoza greatly appreciated.
“It brings even more credibility to what we are trying to accomplish and helps us spread the word to the masses about the benefits of cannabis and how it can help professional athletes,” said Mendoza.