NFL Legend Ricky Williams Launches "Highsman" Weed Brand
After losing entire seasons of his football career to the NFL's draconian cannabis policies, it's high time this Heisman Trophy winner got some poetic justice.
Published on October 21, 2021

After being suspended for cannabis use no less than five times during his 11 seasons as an NFL running back, former player Ricky Williams is starting his second marijuana brand, reports Ganjapreneur. With no small touch of irony, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner announced on Monday that he is dubbing the company Highsman.

The moniker is as much of a jab at the pro football establishment as it is a late-coming nod to the plant that helped Williams launch his 10,000-yard rushing career in the NFL. 

In his senior year at the University of Texas, a lovelorn Williams was offered a loaded bong by his roommate. After smoking, he found his anxiety dissipated — and his game benefited. In a recent Sports Illustrated interview, Williams said that without cannabis, he may never have been able to go pro in the first place.

“I wouldn’t have won the Heisman without it,” were his exact words

In 2018, the former player started his first San Diego-based cannabis line, Real Wellness. His fascination with the plant has been fueled by his post-football studies of Ayurvedic medicine. 

“They asked what I want to do. I said ‘I want to make medicine,'” Williams said of the Real Wellness partnership with a California cannabis corporation. “We shared our philosophies, and they were so closely aligned that we said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Williams is not the only former pro athlete who, after policing of the drug handicapped their career, found capitalistic justice by creating a cannabis brand. MMA fighter Nick Díaz was suspended for five years and fined $165,000 when he tested positive for marijuana use in 2015. Now, he’s making a return to bouts — and even started a Willie Nelson-approved CBD line with brother Nate (who made waves after smoking a CBD vape during a press conference after a fight against Conor McGregor.)

The time is ripe for such business moves, given the spread of marijuana legalization and with it, changing attitudes toward the drug in the world of sports. The NFL announced in August that players would no longer be randomly tested for cannabis in the off-season. In March, the league removed the threat of suspension that hindered careers like Williams’ and raised the blood percentage threshold for what is considered a positive cannabis test while in season.

That’s good news for pro players, who must subject their bodies to immense damage to get their paychecks — damage that studies have suggested can be alleviated by the palliative use of cannabis. (Don’t believe it? Even the NFL is getting into cannabis research.)

All the more reason to root for Williams, whose product line features three strains, each packaged in the colors of one of Williams’ former elite squads. If you are still into the sativa-indica dichotomy, know that Longhorns burnt orange-boxed Pre-Game is a citrusy sativa, black-and-gold for the Saints packaged Post-Game a berry-tasting indica, and Dolphins’ teal Halftime a hybrid varietal.

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Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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