Two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long has revealed he regularly smoked marijuana to cope with the daily stress of NFL life.
In an interview on the Dan Patrick Show just a few days after Long announced his retirement from the NFL, he also said he and other players knew how to pass the annual NFL ‘street drugs’ test.
“We should be headed to a place where we allow players to enjoy what I would not even consider a drug,” Long said. "It (marijuana) is far less harmful than alcohol, it is far less harmful than tobacco and at various points in the league’s history, they have engaged in partnerships with those respective industries.
“Listen, if not for that (marijuana), I’m not as capable of coping with the stresses of day-to-day NFL life.”
Marijuana use is still banned in the league. Fortunately, the anti-marijuana usage stance the NFL has long held is something future league-bound players may not have to face.
During the NFL owners meetings in Florida on Monday, Roger Goodell said a new committee of medical experts appointed by the league and players union as part of an effort to address player health will be studied studied, per the Associated Press.
“There are a lot of alternative pain medications and treatments,” Goodell said. “Those are the types of things we want this committee to focus on. One of those is what role medical marijuana can have.”
However, as the ban still stands, Long explained it’s not so strictly enforced.
“The league, speaking plainly, knows damn well what they’re doing," Long said. “If you’re serious about the players not smoking, you’d be testing more often."
Players are only ever tested once a year for marijuana, but players all know the dates the tests are scheduled for. So long as they stop smoking a month or two in advance, they can pass the test.
However, that time span of not having something that helps players’ health help poses additional risks, according to Long.
“We can stop and then that month or two that we stop, you’re gonna reach for the sleeping pills, you’re gonna reach for the pain killers, you’re gonna reach for the bottle a little bit more, on the weekend you’re gonna have a few more drinks, a few turns into a few too many,” Long explained.
"I hope they go the opposite direction (end the marijuana ban) and just kind of realize how arbitrary doing that one test a year is.”
Aside from mental stress, marijuana is a safer alternative to pain management, according to Long who explained a lot of his usage was to help with the physical tolls of playing the sport.