The question of marijuana use in the NFL came to the forefront last week, as the two Super Bowl XLVIII teams hailed from the only two states to legalize the drug in the United States.
On Wednesday, New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie offered his two cents on the situation, saying the league should allow players to smoke weed. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark agrees with that notion, even highlighting the league’s drug-testing policy as a reason why.
“It’s 100 percent true. They’re fighting a losing battle. The testing isn’t stringent,” Clark said on ESPN’s First Take on Thursday. “There is one random test during OTAs and minicamps during the offseason, and everybody will be tested early in training camp. After that, there are no more tests. So guys understand the ways to get around failing a drug test.”
Beyond the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, though, Clark emphasized the primary use for many players, including his own Steelers teammates, is to help deal with the physical and mental strain of playing.
“I know guys on my team who smoke,” Clark said. “And it’s not a situation where you think, ‘Oh, these are guys trying to be cool.’ These are guys who want to do it recreationally.
“A lot of it is stress relief. A lot of it is pain and medication. Guys feel like, ‘If I can do this, it keeps me away from maybe Vicodin, it keeps me away from pain prescription drugs and things that guys get addicted to.’ Guys look at this as a more natural way to heal themselves, to stress relieve and also to medicate themselves for pain. Guys are still going to do it.”
That notion isn’t entirely falling on deaf ears either. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell added to the conversation during Super Bowl week, suggesting the league would consider allowing the drug if it proved to help with injuries or concussions. However, he didn’t sound too confident that change would happen anytime soon.
“It is still an illegal substance on a national basis,” Goodell said last week. “It’s something that is part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players. It is questionable as to the positive impacts, in the face of the very strong evidence of the negative effects, including addictions and other issues.
“We’ll continue to follow the medicine. Our experts right now are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way. We are not actively considering that at this point in time. But if it goes down the road sometime, that’s something that we would never take off the table.”