A few days ago, I talked about the fact that the NFL has expressed interest in working with the NFLPA toward collaborative research about the medicinal benefits of marijuana, which is currently both federally illegal and on the league’s banned substances list. Yesterday, Commissioner Roger Goodell expanded upon the league’s evolving views.
During a forum at the Broncos’ facility—fittingly, in one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in the country—Goodell sounded quite a different tone than in years past, or even earlier this season, both after the Super Bowl and just before the draft.
“Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature”, he said at the time. “There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game”.
While the NFLPA has embraced the potential for using marijuana as an alternative solution to a variety of painkillers that can be harsh on the body and mind, the NFL has been much slower to come around, despite expressing empathy.
“We really want to help our players in that circumstance”, he said about the suggestion that players use marijuana for pain management after games, “but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren’t something that is something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road”.
It seems that the league is finally actually going to try to “make sure” about all the things that they have been warning against regarding marijuana for years are not as bad as may be portrayed.
“If pain management is something that medical marijuana can address responsibly, that’s something that our medical community is evaluating”, Goodell said yesterday. “We just proposed to our union in the last month or so that we put some research money behind that to see how we could implement that”.
“If they can address pain management in an effective and safe fashion”, he added, “that’s something that I assume will get a lot of discussion, but hopefully it involves a lot of research and medical opinions that can help us make the best decisions”.
One of the purported areas of interest that the league would like to study in collaboration with the Players Association is pain management for players dealing with both acute and chronic pain. Many current and former players have advocated for this for years. This is really the first step that suggests that the NFL might finally begin to take it seriously.