Even as public opinion on marijuana use continues to shift, there are places where the drug is still completely shunned. Pro sports is one of those places. And the NFL is no exception. Speaking publicly on the topic recently, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said marijuana has an “addictive nature” and, because of this, no one should look for it to be okayed by the NFL anytime soon, regardless of the potential pain-relief benefits.
And he wasn’t done talking about it. During an appearance on the ESPN talk show Mike & Mike, Goodell said the NFL is researching the effects of marijuana, including the potential positive and negative effects on players:
“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use. Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance, but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren’t something that is something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road.”
On the surface, that’s a fairly open and shut statement, but it’s also a very political one. Goodell knows public opinion on the issue is changing, just as he knows fans are tired of seeing their favorite players sidelined due to what they see as minor drug infractions. They don’t consider pot to be a bad drug, and they think it’s ridiculous to chastise a professional athlete for just trying to take the edge off his pain.
Others say “good for the NFL” for taking a stand against a drug they see as a harmful gateway to much worse as well as a very bad example for younger fans. They want good role models for their kids, not “pot heads.”
Neither side appears willing to give much on this issue, so it’s going to be tough sledding for Goodell as long as the political environment on this issue continues to shift. Right now, he can stand on the law and the rules the league has established. But that doesn’t mean fans will be happy about it.
That said, there’s no way Goodell can come out in support of pot, as some players have. While some states have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana, many have not, and so he has to err on the side of caution, no matter who that aggravates.