Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on Monday that it is high time the NFL explores how now-banned marijuana could medically help players cope with pain from injuries.
Carroll will guide the Seahawks against the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Super Bowl 48, which features teams from the only two American states that have legalised marijuana for recreational purposes.
“I would say that we have to explore and find ways to make our game a better game and take care of our players in whatever way possible,” Carroll said.
“Regardless of what other stigmas might be involved, we have to do this because the world of medicine is doing this.”
Seahawks running back Michael Robinson said he was for anything that could ease pain for players dealing with injuries.
“I think anything that can make our job a little easier without sacrificing our health at the same time is good for the league, it’s good for players,” said Robinson.
“I am all for alternative forms of recovery and all those types of things – hyperbaric chambers, o-zoning, whatever it may be. So I’m all for it. Whatever can help the player, I’m for.”
Marijuana is legal for medical purposes in 20 states, but is against federal laws and transporting it between states could violate some state laws as well.
Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested the NFL would explore removing marijuana as a banned substance if medical science can prove it would medically benefit players, especially in a context of concussions, which have nagged the league in recent seasons.
“We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that,” Goodell said. “Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”
Jokes about Denver’s Rocky Mountain High and the “Stoner Bowl” have been common in the Super Bowl rival states but players have been cautious to weigh in on the matter given the drug’s banned NFL status.
“Well that’s new to me. I wasn’t aware of that,” Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said.
“I don’t really get caught up in the whole marijuana thing. I know right now they are trying to do whatever they can to help players post-career and they’re looking into everything, but it’s illegal right now and it’s something against the rules so I stay away from that.”
Former Broncos player Nate Jackson told HBO that he thinks 50 to 60 per cent of NFL players use marijuana.
“I don’t think so. I think that’s way too high,” Knighton said. “I really can’t speak on that because it doesn’t involve my personal life so I can’t speak for other guys.”
“I don’t have any estimates myself,” Denver linebacker Paris Lenon said. “Right now the only thing on my mind is preparing for Sunday.”
Knighton warned that marijuana could be abused as well as medically helpful.
“I think with something like [a pain remedy] it may be helpful, but it is also something that can be abused so I think that’s why it’s banned and that’s why it’s on the list, because it can be abused and it can backfire,” he said.
“It’s a touchy subject, but whatever is best, they’ll figure it out. Until then, I’m going to follow the rules.”