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The Hypocrisy Of Roger Goodell’s Weed Stance

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not feeling the idea of taking marijuana off of the league's list of banned substances.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not feeling the idea of taking marijuana off of the league’s list of banned substances. He has no tolerance for the argument that recreational use among NFL players is something to be condoned and accepted.

As an increasing number of states legalize marijuana, the NFL is nowhere near allowing its players to use it for medical reasons. And for those who feel like they should be able to use it simply because they want to, the Commissioner is saying, “Aw hell to the naw!”

Goodell went on Mike & Mike this morning, saying that the league is looking at things from a medical perspective.

We look at it from a medical standpoint, he said. So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the NFLPA and the NFL, and well sit down and talk about that. But weve been studying that through our advisers. To date, they havent said this is a change we think you should make thats in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, were certainly going to consider that. But to date, they havent really said that.

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Overall, he continues to believe that marijuana use is something that has no place in today’s NFL.

I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use, Goodell said. Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, youre ingesting smoke, so thats 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 its 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 arent something that is something that well be held accountable for some years down the road.


I’m not here to advocate for the players being able to mobb with the D-Oh-Double-G, or to defend the NFL’s stance.

But there’s something beyond hypocritical in Goodell’s statement. I’m stuck on, “We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences arent something that is something that well be held accountable for some years down the road.”


I could understand this coming from someone else’s mouth, but not from the man who oversees an empire that has been providing painkillers and highly addictive opioids to players without their knowledge or without being warned about potential side effects for years. 

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The NFL has long disregarded both player safety and federal guidance on handling narcotics and painkillers.

You can check the recent court filings on behalf of close to 2,000 former players in a complaint that alleges doctors and trainers negligently supplied narcotics and anti-inflammatory painkillers to keep players on the field. It contends that teams “maintain the return to play practice or policy by ensuring that players are not told of the health risks associated with taking medications.” The complaint goes on to say “Players are not informed of the long-term health effects of taking controlled substances and prescription medications in the amounts given to them.”

As Rick Maese wrote in his Washington Post piece last month, “National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied their players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, according to sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players.”

Maese goes on to write, “The court filing reveals that the teams dispensed painkillers and prescription-strength anti-inflammatories in numbers far beyond anything previously acknowledged or made public. In the calendar year of 2012, for example, the average team prescribed nearly 5,777 doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and 2,213 doses of controlled medications to its players, according to a March 2013 internal document from Lawrence Brown, the NFL-employed medical adviser who oversees its drug issues. Those numbers could average out to about six to seven pain pills or injections a week per player over the course of a typical NFL season, but sports medicine experts noted that its unlikely the drugs were distributed evenly over the entire roster and just as unlikely that team logs represent the full extent of medications players seek out to manage pain.”



In order to sell their product, the league has created more drug addicts than it wants to admit. It’s time for them to stop the hypocrisy and pretend like marijuana is a huge problem. It’s a basic game of three-card monte from a guy who represents billionaire owners and their franchises that has been destroying people’s lives and long-term physical health for years with little to no concerns.


I guess the real lesson here is that the NFL doesn’t want their players getting high unless the league is the one pushing the drugs.

Ali

Alejandro “Ali” Danois is the Editor-in-Chief of The Shadow League. His features “Humble Beginnings”, and “Rocky Flop” were mentioned in the Best American Sports Writing Anthology as among the country’s most notable stories of 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Ali is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Boys of Dunbar, A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball, and he served as a Producer on the ESPN Films 30-for-30 documentary “Baltimore Boys”.

Follow him on twitter @alidanois