NFL Commish Stays Willfully Blind on Medical Cannabis Policy

Published on April 28, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It appears that the NFL would rather continue giving its players addicting and potentially deadly pain killers like Toradol, rather than letting them try medical cannabis.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell delivered a strong statement against cannabis consumption on Friday morning, telling ESPN radio that the league sees no medical benefits, while adding that “it may not be healthy for the players long-term.”

The commissioner’s comments were made in an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. Goodell has made similar comments in the past, but today’s quotes come as a lawsuit over the issue works its way through federal court. That suit, filed in 2016 by more than 1,800 former players, alleges that the players suffered long-term health problems because NFL teams were deceptive and acted improperly in their distribution of pain killers to players.

Regarding medical marijuana, Goodell said the league is following advice from “independent medical advisors who have not recommended cannabis use for medical uses.”

“We’ve been studying that through our advisors,” Goodell said. “To date, they haven’t said, ‘This is a change we think you should make that is in the best interest of the health and safety of our players.’ If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven’t really said that.”

Despite his negative comments, the NFL commissioner added that “medical marijuana is something that is evolving, and that’s something that at some point the medical advisors may come to us and say, ‘This is something you should consider.’”

In the past year, numerous former NFL players have told Leafly that the league has a prescription pain killer problem. Chris Kluwe, the Minnesota Vikings’ all-time leading punter, told us that the league hands prescription painkillers out like candy. Kluwe believes cannabis would be a safer method to deal with the pain that playing in the NFL delivers.

Former first-round pick and Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe told Leafly that cannabis is extremely beneficial with post-workout recovery. The big man has now partnered with the vaporizer company VapeXhale, after ending his football career before the start of the 2016 season.

“Using cannabis to help with post-workout recovery, it has been really beneficial,” Monroe told Leafly. “[Cannabis] relieves pain, discomfort from training. After playing a career in football, I am still dealing with a lot of injuries that I got.”

With the comments Goodell made on Friday, it looks like the NFL will not be changing its cannabis policy anytime soon.

“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players?

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“Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature.”

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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