By Derrick Stanley
Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and other retired football players discussed marijuana use in the NFL on a panel at the Southwest Cannabis Conference in Fort Worth Sunday.
“I have arthritis pretty much in all my joints,” McMahon, a 15-year NFL player, told the Star-Telegram before the roundtable discussion. “My head problems have been pretty severe at times. [Marijuana] makes all that pain go away. I just forget about the pain.”
It wasn't until he moved to Arizona in 2009 that he began to see that marijuana is a safer, more effective alternative to painkillers.“When I was playing ball, there was all these pharmaceuticals they were giving you, which are not good for you,” he said. “I had to get off those pills.”
"We'd have to take pills on a daily basis just to practice," said Ricky Williams, former Miami Dolphins running back. "That's when I promised myself I was going to find another way to practice." Williams turned to cannabis as an alternative to painkillers. Williams was caught violating the NFL substance abuse policy several times and was suspended from play the entire 2006 season.
Ricky Williams and Jim McMahon were joined on the panel by Marvin Washington, former Denver Broncos defensive end, encouraging athletes to use marijuana as an alternative to opioids and pharmaceuticals.
In addition to being a safer substitute for painkillers, studies have recently shown that cannabis is effective in treating chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease caused by repeated head trauma, like concussions.