By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
Mental and physical health has become a center point of discussion regarding the the NFL as of late, the issue taking center stage with the jaw-dropping announcement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck retiring from the league while still in his prime.
Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recently added to the discussion by announcing his new partnership with CBDMEDIC, a company that creates various forms of cannabis created for medicinal purposes. CBD, or cannabidiol, are banned by the NFL and other professional leagues, but this partnership not only opens the door for the discussion of the usage of marijuana within professional sports, but confirms the necessity of professional sports to consider amending their current medical marijuana ban.
Gronkowski, much so like Luck, retired from the NFL this offseason after winning his third Super Bowl title to focus on his physical and mental health. He said during his announcement that he was struggling with is mental health and lost his passion to play the game due to always being in pain.
“I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn’t like it.” Gronkowski said at a news conference via the Boston Globe.
“During that time, I had countless injuries and nine surgeries, which took an absolute beating on my body and my soul,” he continued. “I was hurt both mentally and physically, day in and day out. I decided to walk away from the game for one main reason: I had to recover.”
Former Bears defensive end and current Big Ten Network and Fox 32 football analyst Corey Wootton can relate to Luck and Gronk’s reasonings for early retirement. Wootton retired after six years in the NFL and battled his last years in the league on and off the injury-reserved list due to major injuries that included torn ligaments within his knee. The rehab and focus to stay healthy took a toll on his mental health, and it contributed to losing his passion to playing the game. Upon the arrival of his daughter, he knew to step away from the game while he could.
“[The birth of my daughter] changed my life,” Wootton said. “After I had her it put things in perspective for me and that’s ultimately why I decided to retire. Wanted to spend more time with my family.”
Gronkowski is not the only person, especially within the NFL, to become an advocate of the cannabis treatment. Former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and former Bears champion and QB Jim McMahon have all spoken out about the usage of cannabis. Former Baltimore Raven linebacker Eugene Moore was a forerunner as an active NFL player to advocate for cannabinoids to treat chronic pain and sports-related injuries.
The discussion of cannabis spread throughout the NBA as well. Former NBA players like Al Harrington supports cannabis usage and has even invested in the cannabis industry as owners, similar to Gronk’s investment with his partnership deal. Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson admitted to smoking weed before games. Former NBA player Kenyon Martin was part of a Bleacher Report “4/20” video recording and stated that above 80 percent of NBA and NFL players smoked marijuana, while Martellus Bennett stated his belief of around 89% in another Bleacher Report interview.
Wootton never used cannabis during his playing days and does not see it as potentially playing a major factor in prolonging his career should he tried CBD. But he believes that the NFL should support CBD usage, claiming it as a healthier alternative than pain pills.
“CBD is healthier for you than pain pills and not addictive,” Wootton said. “It’s not a magic pill but it could help some people.”
Gronkowski stated he was blown away by the results of the CBD products, and has become one of the latest members of the CBD movement. There is not much scientific evidence to support the usage of cannabis as an alternative medical source and the affects of it, but with the wide support of CBD within professional players from various professional leagues, it is time for professional leagues to start listening to the players and consider the idea of legalizing medical marijuana just like a few federal states have for everyday usage.
It could be the Savior for many professional players long-term health, and could be the one thing that could have kept Gronk and Luck in the league today.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media