Earlier this morning, a day after the start of the 2017 NFL draft, commissioner Roger Goodell went on ESPN radio’s Mike and Mike to express his ridiculously antiquated views on cannabis use in professional football.
“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use.” Goodell told the radio hosts. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. 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. We really want to help our players in that circumstance 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.”
If Goodell were discussing prescription painkiller abuse, a problem that was for years fully sanctioned and ran rampant in the NFL, he may have made some sense, but no - Roger was talking about cannabis.
Goodell is the leader and figurehead of a multi-billion dollar enterprise that makes its profit from the head injuries of the league’s celebrity athletes. This isn’t news to anyone, but Goodell’s refusal to even learn about cannabis - the difference between CBD and THC or the benefits of vaporizing, eating of using topical forms of weed instead of smoking it - is absurd, and downright irresponsible.
Despite Roger’s personal views, the NFL Players Association is in the process of looking into the benefits of high-CBD cannabis products for athletes, and Goodell says that the league hasn’t slammed the door on the idea of medical marijuana quite yet.
"We've been studying that through our advisers," Goodell said. "To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that’s in the best interests 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."
But while athletes around the league, active and retired, continue to push for cannabis reform in the NFL, Goodell’s archaic opinions about cannabis will continue to stand in the way of player safety and pain management.
Besides, it’s no secret that NFL players are using cannabis to deal with the everyday struggle of life on the gridiron. If Goodell can’t see that and start working with players instead of punishing them, it will only push more cannabis users to the shadows, even while the rest of the country moves to normalize and legalize marijuana.