Every year in the National Football League numerous players have been suspended due to violations of the leagues substances abuse policy. Players can receive suspensions for numerous reasons but the most popular is substance abuse, the two substances that continue to cause players trouble are marijuana and performance enhancers. Two completely different drugs that have two opposite effects, one that relaxes the body and the other that gives you the opportunity to create an unfair advantage over your opponent. Marijuana is legal in most states around the country but is still frowned upon by the league. NFL players are on the field every Sunday (Monday and Thursday as well) competing at high levels while crashing into their opponent head first. Over the years this has brought up the discussion of head injuries, concussions are a popular injury within the league and over the year’s doctors have hinted that three of them is the number at which decisions to keep playing becomes harder.
In this article I found on a former NFL player who suffers from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a disease that basically eats away at your brain due to the head trauma the person has induced. Researchers have found that this disease has become more common over the past decade among former NFL players. According to this Daily News article, Leonard Marshall, an 11 year NFL veteran goes through everyday smoking his vaporizer to deal with his chronic migraines, his paraphernalia contains CBD (cannabidiol), found in the marijuana plant, but does not allow the user get high. Leonard is a supporter of the alternative and is pursuing the league to overturn the ban and how it is safer to use than the painkillers players are prescribed.
Current and former players are still trying to convince the league to allow the use of marijuana as a pain reliever. The reason behind this is player believe it can be a resource that can help against getting a concussion and also don’t want to run the risk of becoming addicted to pain killers. A CNN article discussed this matter with former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. According to Monroe players are faced with two decisions when it comes to dealing with the pain from the game, take the pain killers doctors are forcing down your throat and run the risk of later becoming addicted or seek treatment from marijuana, although you run the risk of suspension. In the past few season you have seen more and more young players chose the path of retiring rather than the other two options. Although the league has implemented rules that protect the player head and neck areas it still hasn’t stopped them from getting injured. Football is one of, if not the most physical sport in the world and over the years you have seen the playing rate at a young age decrease because of the fear of serious injuries. Players are beginning to value their personal health and long-term lifestyles rather than the money that is in the game.
A study done by doctor Daniel G. Amen was conducted in 2009 and he looked at the brain activity of former NFL players. He and his team recruited 100 former NFL players that had played in the league for more than three years to run tests on. The participants performed numerous MACF tests (Microcog Assessment of Cognitive Functioning) that measured their cognitive functioning and proficiency, as well as speed, accuracy and memory, the results were then compared to adults in the U.S. The next test was based on reactions and
they performed this task while being injected with a dose of Tc99m. Before and after that task the players were scanned for brain SPECT to measure the blow flow in the cerebrum. The study found that there were significant increases in every aspect of the MACF scores after the retest as well as an increase in cerebrum blow flow to all areas of the brain expect the temporal lobe. At the end of the study in 2010 players were reported to show improvements in areas such as, memory, mood and motivation.
I started playing football when I was about 7 and continued to into my high school years. Throughout those times as I got more knowledgeable, I realized that those players smashing into each other and getting injured could be me, but that’s not what stopped me from playing; I was 5’9 and 110lbs soaking wet sophomore year. You see these injuries players are having to deal with and there are so many products out there that are created to help prevent them such as kevlar rib protectors and shock absorbing helmets, but has anyone thought that maybe these player’s bodies need something to protect them on the inside. Surgeries take a toll on a body they become recurring and painkillers have now proven to be a very addictive and dangerous substance. The league needs a safe alternative to protect its players, if marijuana can be the solution is it worth trying?
Vinton, Nathaniel, Dustin Foote, and Michael O’keeffe. “Former NFL Players Appeal to League to Embrace Marijuana Use.” NY Daily News. N.p., 30 July 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.
Amen, Daniel G. “Reversing Brain Damage in Former NFL Players: Implications for Traumatic Brain Injury and Substance Abuse Rehabilitation.” Taylor&Francis Online. N.p., 08 Apr. 2011. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
Kounang, Nadia. “Is It Time for Football to Reconsider Marijuana?” CNN. Cable News Network, 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.