In a recent interview with ESPN, Jake Plummer and Mark Brunell sat down to share their unique personal perspectives on marijuana use in the NFL and the policy that goes along with it. The two retired Pro-Bowlers have starkly contrasting views on the NFL’s marijuana policy. Plummer says, “I think of it [marijuana] as a medicine more than a drug.”
The NFL recently changed their testing guidelines for marijuana, raising the threshold for a possible test from 15 ng/mL to 35 ng/mL. Those changes could mean that NFL players could slip by a test when they’ve consumed marijuana within the last week. The NFL decided to raise these testing limits because the players union raised concerns over showing false positives due to second hand smoke.
Not only has the NFL relaxed their testing standards, they do not require mandatory testing throughout the regular season. All NFL players must still submit to one test in the three months prior to the start of the NFL season, but are not tested again during the season unless they fail their first test.
Plummer thinks the league is showing compassion by relaxing their testing policies. He says that he used marijuana for pain relief during his time in the NFL and post-retirement to treat his lingering ailments. He mentions the use of marijuana edibles as well as medicated transdermal patches as effective alternatives to smoking marijuana. Plummer said that he used marijuana occasionally before retiring in 2006, but now uses it frequently for pain relief.
One of Plummer’s former tight-ends, Nate Jackson also says that he used cannabis during his NFL career. Among his injuries while in the league were two severe muscle tears and a broken leg. Jackson said, “When I was recovering from an injury I found that marijuana was good.” He says that he didn’t like the pain pills that are commonly prescribed and the way that they made him feel.
Plummer and Jackson both estimate that half of NFL players use marijuana, while Brunell estimates around 75%. Describing marijuana the policy in the NFL Brunell said, “We don’t want you to do that. We don’t want it to have a place in the NFL, but it’s really not that bad.”
Mark Brunell gave a completely different perspective on the issue. Brunell retired from the Jets in 2011 and is now a high school coach in Jacksonville, Florida. He condemns the use of marijuana in the NFL, even for medicinal conditions and pain management. Brunell says, “I think most guys just want a reason and an excuse to use marijuana.”
Nate Jackson speaks toward a stark contradiction saying, “Marijuana is allowing them [the players] to live this life a little more comfortably. Football is the dangerous thing here. Football is the thing that’s maiming people, not marijuana.”
“There are more ways to use it, you’re not going to be a drug addict, you don’t need to go to treatment. You actually feel better.”
See the complete interview: ESPN.com