Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired last spring at the age of 29, recently announced that he would consider returning to the sport if the NFL officially allows players to use CBD.
“I don’t want to be banned from playing the sport I love because I’m using a product that I can buy, or anyone can buy, at their local pharmacy right off the shelf,” Gronkowski said at a press conference, Boston.com reports. “It’s that simple. I also want to have the option to get back into the game, and if I’m banned next year, I can’t. You know you want to see me out there… I know you do.”
The press conference was held to announce a sponsorship deal between Rhode Island-based CBD company Abacus Health Products, Gillette Stadium (the Patriots' home stadium), and Patriot Place, a mall controlled by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. This deal will allow Abacus to advertise CBD products on a sign overlooking an entrance to Gillette Stadium and on a water tower that overlooks the stadium.
“We are not allowed to be within the stadium itself,” said Abacus CEO Perry Antelman, Boston reports. “This is up to the NFL. I know that they are working with and studying alternative medications to help the athletes.”
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This fall, the NFL announced it was forming two joint committees to research how medical cannabis could help players deal with chronic pain. But the league will continue to prohibit CBD until it can consider the committees’ findings.
Under the NFL's current substance-abuse policy, players are required to pass a drug test during the offseason, between late April to early August. Players are not tested during any other time of year, however, so usage of CBD products is actually possible during training, preseason, regular season, and postseason. Still, many current and former players are advocating for the NFL to end its prohibition of this non-intoxicating medicine. And, considering the fact that athletes are among the most over-prescribed professionals, giving football players the freedom to use cannabis could promote greater health throughout the NFL.
At the conference, Gronkowski explained that CBD helps him deal with constant “agony” from chronic pain. “I’m not saying you put this on and you’re going to be healed, that it’s a miracle,” the former tight end said, according to NBC Sports. “But you can apply this and it’ll help manage the pain, and then you can get treatment and it’ll be a lot less stressful to the body.”
In addition to banning players from using CBD, the NFL prohibits players from endorsing these products. Gronkowski currently endorses CBDMEDIC, a line of cannabidiol-infused topical pain and skincare medications developed by Abacus. The NFL's current ban on CBD product endorsement would prevent Gronkowski from returning to the game.