NFL Commissioner And Marijuana

By Benji Garcia-Reyes

IG: @themedimexican

Roger Goodell. Some people have described him as “the most powerful man in sports.” He is synonymous with terms like “Spygate,” “Bountygate,” and most recently, “Deflategate.” He also surfed through the 2011 NFL lockout and then, the 2012 Referee lockout. Since August 8, 2006, when Roger Goodell was chosen to succeed the retiring Paul Tagliabue, he’s believed that his primary responsibilities as commissioner of the National Football League are to protect the integrity of the game and to make it safer. Or, as he says it, “protecting the shield,” which is a reference to the NFL’s shield logo.

Roger Goodell is a very smart person; which is why he is commissioner of the NFL. He follows protocol; he is strict. He’s also a lawyer, a good lawyer. Good lawyer’s don’t breach contracts, they protect clients’ interests. If a contract says “you can’t see blue, even if you see it,” he won’t see “blue.” Such as the “Anheuser-Busch Beer Goggles” effect on Goodell’s approach and views on Medical Marijuana and Opioids.  Even though “the NFL has long stipulated that its players cannot endorse alcohol brands,” individually, “Budweiser” is still “the league’s” official beer sponsor. There are least 250 million reasons a year, which makes for some expensive “Beer Goggles.” The 250 million reasons are the 250 million dollar-per-year “shades,” that have impaired Goodell’s judgment, clouded his visibility, and affected and limited his decision-making ability.

Alcohol is known to be addicting and often referred to as a disease. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon has been very public on how he turned to medical marijuana to help cope with alcoholism and addiction to prescription painkillers, which were all a result of injuries he suffered during his NFL career. He’s not the only one, and more players are speaking out and supporting similar claims and results. Which automatically makes medical marijuana a threat for both alcohol and pharmaceutical companies supplying the addictive opioids and other painkillers. Roger Goodell, while wearing those pricey goggles will “protect the shield” from medical marijuana, and he has.

He’s suspended several players who have tested positive for marijuana, which is a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. For example, Seantrel Henderson, who in 2016 was suspended for ten games for a second violation. Henderson admitted that he used marijuana to deal with Crohn’s disease and two intestinal surgeries from earlier in the year.

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) Patient Education Committee stated the following in Jan. 2012, “several small studies have shown that a significant proportion of patients with IBD report smoking marijuana to relieve IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases)-related symptoms, particularly those patients with a history of abdominal surgery, chronic abdominal pain, or a low quality of life index.”

In terms of how the number of players suspended because of marijuana, the NFL punishment is harsher than the NBA’s, even if the two disciplinary structures look similar. In the long run, the NFL’s penalties for marijuana have ruined, derailed, and ended several careers.

Marijuana Policies Comparison:

First infraction: Mandatory completion of substance abuse program
Second infraction: $25,000 fine, no suspension
Third infraction: 5-game suspension
Fourth infraction: 10-game suspension (5 more games for each positive test after that)

First infraction: Mandatory rehabilitation program
Second infraction: 2-game fine (can play unpaid)
Third infraction: 4-game fine (can play unpaid)
Fourth infraction: 4-game suspension
Fifth infraction: 10-game suspension

“Protecting the Shield” and wearing “beer goggles” can sometimes limit what you can or want to see. Topics like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative disease found in people who have suffered repeated blows to the head, or opioid addiction and abuse were denied until recently. On August 30, 2013, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with the former NFL players over head injuries. However, in January 2014, U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody refused to accept the agreed settlement because “the money wouldn’t adequately compensate the nearly 20,000 men not named in the suit.” Until that day, they denied or ignored CTE, or it’s warning and results. Yes, when it comes to marijuana, Goodell said in an ESPN interview, “There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term.” That does not include how his marijuana suspensions and fines have and will affect players’ careers or lives “long term,” maybe he was referring to the CTE settlement in 2013.

Both the commissioner and the league are following advice from “independent medical advisers” who have “not recommended marijuana use” for medical uses. According to Goodell, they had “been studying that through [their] advisers,” and added, “To date, they haven’t said, ‘This is a change we think you should make that is in the best interest of the health and safety of our players.’ If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven’t really said that.” It is not known whether the medical advisers were supplied with their own set of beer goggles.

Roger Goodell says marijuana “may not be healthy to the players long term” but is “open to the use of medical marijuana if recommended.”  His openness to medical will be most likely be when it is legal to take money to wear “Cannabis Shades,” “Marijuana Specs,” or “CBD Glasses” while “Protecting the Shield.”