What do the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins and, of course, the Denver Broncos all have in common? They are NFL teams based in states (and a district) where medical marijuana is legal. Currently, NFL policy doesn’t allow players on those teams to use the herb to help their ailments, though.
But could that be changing? When asked about medical pot use for athletes this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel told ESPN that he isn’t going to write off cannabis as a therapy but shied away from outright approving of the plant.
“I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.”
He didn’t elaborate on it (nor did the ESPN commentator push for more), but it’s the first time he’s spoken about marijuana in over a year – specifically when Goodell said that legalization laws in Colorado and Washington didn’t change the NFL’s drug use policies for the Broncos or the Seahawks. The only other mentions of marijuana from the commish have been when he’s handing down penalties to players busted toking or possessing pot.
Interestingly, the NFL player’s union doesn’t outright ban medical cannabis, as Pro Football Talk has discovered. Language in the collective bargaining agreement struck by the union and the NFL only bans the “illegal use” of marijuana. It doesn’t specify whether “illegally” means federally or at the state level.
Ironically, a portion of the ESPN interview focused on Goodell’s more cautious policy towards athlete injuries and rehabilitation. “The most important thing we can do is when you have this injury is treat it conservatively,” he said.
And a therapeutic, natural plant might be a really good place to start.