The real story behind the NFL and weed

Advocacy is fine but disingenuous promulgation of any issue, no matter what side you are on, is a turn off, or at least it should be.

Former All-Pro offensive tackle Kyle Turley was among a number of ex-NFL players doing exactly that at the Southwest Cannabis Expo recently, taking aim at the league’s stance on marijuana which remains prohibited under a collective bargaining agreement jointly agreed to by so many of the players who want the stuff.

“This is a medicine, it’s been used for thousands of years, and it’s helping particular ailments for football players in big ways,” Turley claimed, although I’m guessing his declarations about medicinal marijuana haven’t made it into any medical journals just yet.

And that’s the thing with most weed apologists because arguments about it’s medical efficacy or that it’s not as harmful as alcohol or even certain prescription drugs are just red herrings.

Marijuana can certainly help with pain but there are also far more effective drugs and most doctors, at least the ones who didn’t accompany Turley to the latest Cannabis expo, are going to steer you in a different direction when it comes to comfort management.

The counter  to that is tired and cliched with Turley claiming pain pills were handed out like “candy” in the past and that practice is far more harmful.

“They have led from long term use to very negative side effects surfacing, those things on those bottles are very real when they put a side effect of suicide, depression, anxiety, those things start to happen years into that use and sometimes quickly into that use,” Turley asserted.

Think about the logic in that position, however.

One practice, which is unquestionably flawed, should be replaced by another that is just as specious? How about hiring doctors with the ethics to care for their patients in the proper way?

Anyone who is going to argue that with you is either obtuse or engaging in that deceitful advocacy.

Bullet point No. 2 for the weed marks is contending marijuana addiction is less likely than with other drugs which is also duplicitous, especially to those households that have gone through the upheaval a dependence to that particular drug can cause. Rates of such addictions compared to other drugs are surely meaningless to them.

And finally, the rationale that any of you can go home tonight and down a gin and tonic or two but can’t smoke a joint is also stretching it because even if prohibition was brought back and Jerry Jones was going to write you an eight-figure check with the caveat you have to put down the Bombay Sapphire for a few months, most would open the cabinet and put it back without complaint.

Similarly, NFL players with a modicum of discipline can smoke all the weed they want for the vast majority of the year because they are only tested twice in what amounts to nothing more than an IQ exercise because the timing of the screenings never changes unless a player has been nabbed previously, which triggers a far more stringent year-round testing protocol.

There is one random test during OTAs and minicamps during the offseason, and everyone is then tested early in training camp. After you pass those, your free and clear to do what you want for the rest of the year, not necessarily from a legal perspective depending on what jurisdiction you’re in, but certainly from an NFL mindset.

The real truth with this issue and also the biggest hurdle any marijuana advocate must clear is the shameful lack of authenticity in their arguments.

For the vast majority who use, this isn’t about stress release or pain tolerance, it’s about partying, something employers — who often cut some very healthy checks — aren’t all that concerned with enabling.

As our society morphs into a more and more liberal one, however, views on smoking pot have certainly eased especially among certain cultures and younger people.

So, if this is the hill you want to die on, cue the Beastie Boys and fight for your right to party at the bargaining table.

Anything else is just blowing smoke.

— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen@phanaticmag.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.

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