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Titans’ Derrick Morgan Voices Support for MMJ in the NFL

Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle and current free agent Eugene Monroe isn’t alone in his public support for medical marijuana in the NFL. Current Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan has added his voice to Monroe’s call for the NFL to adopt cannabis as an alternative method of pain management for players. 

The two recently sat down with Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric to speak about the potential benefits of the NFL adopting cannabis as an alternative to prescription painkillers. 

“I think for the NFL to say that cannabis does not benefit the long-term health of its players without actually having gone and done the research — I don’t think that’s an accurate statement.” Morgan said

He added, “What I noticed was that former players would openly speak about their experiences being addicted to opioids that they were prescribed by their team doctors.” 

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The two are particularly interested in the possible benefits of CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the 60-plus cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD is non-intoxicating and does not cause a high. 

Players like Monroe and Morgan are becoming more aware of the negative effects that professional football can have on the human body. Mainly, players are becoming increasingly concerned about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the neurodegenerative disease that was highlighted in the blockbuster movie Concussion and has garnered significant news coverage as more deceased players are found to have had CTE. 

One of the most popular and celebrated NFL players to be diagnosed with CTE, Junior Seau, suffered from the neurodegenerative disease to the point where he committed suicide in May 2013, two years after retiring. Seau shot himself in the heart on May 2, stunning the sports community and his hometown of San Diego, where he played the majority of his career. 

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Though Monroe and Morgan are the only active NFL players that have spoken in support of medical cannabis, numerous ex-NFL players have come out in support of MMJ. Last year, former NFL players in support of cannabis created The Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, dedicated to the advancement of medical marijuana in football. Former players involved include Nate Jackson, Kyle Turley, and several others.

Super Bowl champion and former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon has said that medical marijuana helped him recover from the pain of his football career. 

McMahon, now 56, has been plagued by debilitating health problems following a 15-year career in the NFL. Throughout his time in the league, as well as in college at Brigham Young University, McMahon suffered from several concussions and has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. He also said he suffered a broken neck during his playing career and now deals with severe headaches, depression, memory loss, and vision and speech problems.

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To add to the pain McMahon was dealing with daily, he also was dealing with a constant struggle with opioids. At one point he was taking around 100 Percocet pills a month for pain. The key to McMahon getting off of the prescription painkillers, he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, was medical marijuana. Painkillers were doing him more harm than good. 

McMahon isn’t the only high-profile former NFL player talking about the benefits of medical marijuana in the NFL. Former Heisman winner and 11-year NFL veteran Ricky Williams believes there is a better way for NFL players to handle the excessive wear and tear that goes with the job. According to Williams, rather than giving players copious amounts of painkillers, the NFL should take cannabis off the league’s banned substance list.  

Recently, Williams announced that he will be opening Power Plant Fitness, the world’s first cannabis gym, in San Francisco. Not only is being high allowed at the gym, but it’s also offering its own line of edibles.

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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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