Every NFL team has to be anti-marijuana due to the plant still being on the league's banned substances list and players being suspended for testing positive. However, it seems that the Baltimore Ravens have made their anti-marijuana stance far more pronounced over the last few months.
Eugene Monroe, the Ravens offensive lineman and outspoken marijuana advocate was released from the team, in part, he said, because of his activism.
"I would like to know why the NFL is maintaining such a stern position of the medical value of cannabis when, countrywide, doctors are prescribing it to their patients,” Monroe said in a recent interview.
At this year’s NFL draft, the Ravens selected offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick of the draft. At the time of this pick, Laremy Tunsil was still available; Tunsil was an offensive tackle that many (including this writer) believe was a better player and a better pick for Baltimore to make.
However, a video of Tunsil smoking marijuana through a gas mask had been leaked five minutes before the draft's television coverage began and all of the teams in the top ten began scrambling to figure out what they should do regarding Tunsil as a possible pick. When it came to Baltimore, they chose the other top offensive tackle of this draft class.
Fast-forward to mid-June and the Ravens release Monroe.
What makes this not an ordinary release is that Monroe's off-the-field passion is attempting to get marijuana off the NFL's banned substances list, which would allow the plant to be used by players for pain relief and donation of $80,000 to medical marijuana causes.
According to Monroe (via Twitter), this is what got him his pink slip in Baltimore
@Ravens continue to distance themselves from me and my cause. I invite you all to do some research. I won't stop. This is for my brothers
— Eugene Monroe (@MrEugeneMonroe) June 10, 2016
An ESPN article regarding Monroe's release did list some of the football reasons that would explain the Ravens' decision; such reasons include Monroe missing 15 games over the last two seasons due to injuries (and a concussion), the team wasn't getting enough out of Monroe after signing him to a five-year, $37.5 million contract a few years ago, and they now have Ronnie Stanley.
All of the “football reasons” for the Ravens letting Monroe go do make sense, but it's that third reason that ties both of the Ravens' seemingly anti-marijuana player decisions together: Ronnie Stanley.
Not only did the Ravens draft Stanley primarily because of his character, i.e. not getting into trouble during his college years or having a gas mask video of him surfaced online around an hour before they drafted him, but then they use him as the reason to get rid of an outspoken pro-marijuana player that they just signed to a fairly long-term deal two years ago.
There may be no connection between these two decisions other than Stanley being at the center of them, and there may be nothing specifically anti-marijuana about these decisions. However, you have to at least look at any possible coincidence with some skepticism.
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And in this case, that is definitely true when John Harbaugh, head coach of the Ravens, once said about Monroe, “I promise you, he does not speak for the organization.”
So, even if the Ravens aren't partnering up with anti-marijuana groups publicly, it doesn't seem out of line to believe that the Ravens' hatred for the plant (as an organization) runs deep and may now be seeping out into public view.