Anyone who watches the NFL will tell you a big part of what makes it so fun to watch is the hard hits during the game. It gives the fans a sense of excitement watching our players battle it out with each other. However, those hits without a doubt leave players with long lasting injuries that affect them during their career and after they retire. You would expect that the league they play for would be doing everything they could do to take care of these men that help bring in billions of dollars, right? Wrong. In fact it seems they are doing just the opposite, ignoring what some people say is an option that would be safer for these players to use for treating their pain - weed. So why is the NFL promoting swallowing a bunch of highly addictive opioids rather than trying a safer alternative?
Why is it happening?
Football is a sport that has been and always will be a rough and physically demanding contact sport. In every game, the players must be in excellent shape in order to play their best and that includes playing through the pain. It seems even if it's not the right thing to do, pain killers are the easy solution for both short term and long term problems. Aches and pains are extremely common in the world of football so it's not surprising that this can often lead to opioid addiction in the NFL and with any addiction comes the high risk of overdose. As someone living with a chronic illness that brings me debilitating pain everyday, I know how horrible it is to deal with especially when it is constant. However, I also know how easy it is to fall into using pain medicine as a means to cover up the underlying problem and how it's even easier to fall victim to addiction. I have been at both ends of this debate and I can tell you trying an alternative to this is a better option.
What are they doing about it?
So what is the NFL doing to help these guys avoid this certain doom? I mean they certainly can't make them avoid being injured, but they can help them avoid becoming drug addicts. It just seems that they are not trying all that much to do anything for them. As a matter of fact, some recent news came out about how little the league is actually doing to try to change this. Former players of the NFL filed a lawsuit years ago claiming they were basically fed opioids in order to keep them on the field. The lawsuit was eventually thrown out in 2014, but that decision has since been appealed in September 2018. Many of these former players also claim the NFL is promoting a culture of misusing drugs stating they were given a variety of cocktails of drugs to keep them playing, but never were told about the potential long term side effects. The opioid epidemic in the U.S. has also made more players want to speak up against what the NFL has been doing. The NFL was also in the headlines last year after denying free agent Mike James from obtaining a medical marijuana therapeutic use exemption or TUE. This would allow him to treat his pain without ingesting pills, but also not violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Though around the country effort is being made by various states to decriminalize and legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, the NFL looks to have little interest in that.
We have come a long way from thinking weed is this horrible addictive drug that does nothing except make us inactive useless members of society or having people believe it is the gateway drug to other more extreme drugs. I'm sure many of us especially in America remember those commercials showing kids smoking weed and melting on the couch. There are numerous studies showing how medical marijuana helps with pain, overall mood, sleep disorders, seizures, and helping those with nausea increase their appetite, such as cancer patients going through chemotherapy. All of us have something called an endocannabinoid system or ECS that actually binds with marijuana. It plays a crucial role in our nervous system that helps regulate everything I just listed including pain. These receptors are found in our brain and spinal cord. Doesn't it make sense to try something that our body is already equipped with handling? Doesn't it make more sense to try something that will not lead to an overdose?
Let's not be ignorant to the fact that medical communities have been and are continuing to prove this stuff works. We have no problem watching these men get hurt for the sake of our entertainment and you sure as hell have no problem making money off of them. It's time to let them have the relief they deserve without the unnecessary risks. If you're willing to let them become drug addicts because one of those drugs is legal and written by a doctor, but you won't allow the other because of the social stigma surrounding it, you need to reevaluate where you stand on this. This is insanity at its finest to allow players to consume a highly addictive, overdose prone medication rather than a non highly addictive and practically impossible to overdose on natural medicine. Time can hurt and i'm sure more and more lawsuits will pile on just as more and more players will come forward to speak out against this. You've already been in the spotlight for very unsavory topics recently from domestic abuse to your slow action addressing concussions. Better start turning some of these things around. I love football, but there is definitely things the NFL needs to work on to better represent its players and fans.
Thank you for reading! See you next time!