During Sunday night’s broadcast of the National Football League games, a bombshell was dropped: the DEA is investigating doctors who provide professional football players with dangerous and restricted drugs during practice and before games.
The story was broken by Jay Glazer with Fox Sports. Glazer said airplanes had been held and doctors pulled from the flights with their baggage by agents of the national Drug Enforcement Agency. Glaser indicated this was the result of a class-action lawsuit filed by former NFL players who became addicted to pills during their tenure in the NFL. CNN reported that staff members from the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were “visited” by DEA agents. More teams are involved but a full listing of all investigations is not available at this time.
The push from federal drug agents to clean up the dangerous drugs in pro football comes just weeks after the NFL changed their marijuana tolerance policy to become less restrictive. Negotiations between the NFL owners and the player’s union resulted in a higher amount of THC allowable in a player’s bloodstream before triggering sanction and penalty from the league. The old threshold: 15 nanograms per liter of blood. The league’s new standard: 35 nanograms. However, for members of clubs like the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts located in states with harsh pot laws on the books, testing positive for 1 nanogram outside the stadium could land a player in jail, but testing positive for 34 nanograms on Game Day means you’re just fine to suit up and crush the quarterback.
The NFL isn’t breaking new ground with their increased THC tolerance levels. Pro baseball has a 50-nanogram threshold, and the International Olympic Committee runs with a 150-nanogram tolerance level.
This is the indescribable irregularity with these programs: sport teams have a standard that differs from national or state drug laws. Considering that Indiana and Louisiana have no legal or medical marijuana laws, the team’s tolerance for pot consumption exceeds that of other businesses, government agencies and school systems in those states.
In a September op-ed in The New York Times, former NFL player Nate Jackson wrote: “Virtually every single player in the NFL has a certifiable need for medical marijuana.”
His definition of life inside an NFL locker room may provide the answers to why pills – and not pot – are so popular with NFL health care workers: “In my playing days, the marijuana smokers struck me as sharper, more thoughtful and more likely to challenge authority than the nonsmokers. It makes me wonder if we weren’t that way because marijuana allowed us to avoid the heavy daze of pain pills. It gave us clarity. It kept us sane.”
Jackson had no such admiration for the pill-popping lifestyle fostered by the NFL’s current permissive attitude. He said, “These are the same pills I was handed in full bottles after an injury. The same pills that are ravaging our cities. The same ones that are creating a population of apathetic adults… the same ones that are leading high schoolers to heroin… Yeah, those.”
Perhaps that’s what the DEA is really searching for, control of an industry (pro football) that seems to obtain and distribute dangerous narcotic drugs without the usual system of checks and balances. One thing’s for sure: the DEA didn’t pull doctors off those airplanes to search their luggage for pot.