Work To ‘Gronk Spike’ NFL Cannabis Policy Gains Momentum


New England football fans will come across out when the season starts Sunday no matter if their group feels the discomfort of losing star tight finish Rob Gronkowski, who retired immediately after the Patriots’ most current Super Bowl win.

Gronkowski recently stated he’s launching a second profession as a businessman and advocate for cannabis goods containing the chemical CBD, which he credits with relieving his discomfort from a profession of huge hits.

Although CBD goods commonly do not make the “higher” linked with marijuana, athletes in the NFL and other leagues threat failing drug tests — and getting suspended — if they use them.

But as Gronkowski speaks out, and as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck joins him in early, discomfort-induced retirement, efforts to alter attitudes and policies about cannabis seem to be gaining momentum.

At a current Holy Cross football practice, the sport’s physical demands have been on show. Although the group competes in college football’s second tier, and the intensity was reduce than in a genuine game, the action was nonetheless rough sufficient to leave a defensive back on the ground, needing health-related consideration. Throughout 1 blocking drill, a lineman thrust himself into a teammate with such force that he tore by means of 1 of his size-17 cleats and was carted back to the locker area to come across yet another shoe.

“There are some huge guys falling into every single other, so, you know, you happen to be normally going to have a small a thing that you happen to be gonna deal with,” stated head coach Bob Chesney.

Holy Cross does its finest to retain players wholesome, Chesney added. His athletes put on sensors on their backs and mouth guards implanted with chips to enable monitor and limit football’s toll. So, what about enabling players the choice of applying cannabis to treat these inevitable aches and pains?

“I see marijuana as a thing that is comparatively harmless,” he stated. “It really is just not suitable now acceptable [under] federal [law]. So, it really is not even worth obtaining that conversation till people today a small larger make these choices.”

Bob Chesney coaches the Holy Cross football group against Boston College final fall. (Mary Schwalm/AP)

Particular cannabis goods are legal beneath some states’ laws, like Massachusetts’. But the federal ban is what matters to leagues such as the NFL and NCAA that span the nation and want the identical guidelines for absolutely everyone, according to Holy Cross sports economist Victor Matheson.

“Let’s think about marijuana truly is a miracle drug that makes it possible for teams to play a lot far better,” he stated. “Properly, that signifies you give a substantial, unfair benefit to the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots, playing in areas exactly where the drug is legal.”

Nevertheless, the NFL and its players’ union are studying cannabis as a prospective discomfort-management tool. The league says it cares about athletes’ properly-getting, and there might be a small business concern, as well. It really is not excellent for the NFL’s bottom line when stars like Gronkowski and Luck retire in their 20s, citing excruciating discomfort.

Early retirements will develop into additional typical if a thing does not alter, stated prominent player agent Leigh Steinberg.

“Component of the guarantee of CBD is that it will extend the profession of fan favorites,” he stated. “It will extend the profession of players instrumental to their franchise.”

Health-related investigation supporting wellness claims about cannabis goods like CBD remains restricted. But Steinberg stated he’s noticed advantages, firsthand.

Fifteen years ago, 1 of his consumers was Ricky Williams, arguably the NFL’s finest operating back at the time. Steinberg stated cannabis helped Williams’ physique recover, for the duration of a short-term retirement in 2004. Williams also made use of marijuana as an active player and was suspended for an whole season mainly because he repeatedly failed drug tests.

Former NFL running back Ricky Williams speaks at a conference on medical marijuana at Harvard Medical School in 2017. (Steven Senne/AP)
Former NFL operating back Ricky Williams speaks at a conference on health-related marijuana at Harvard Health-related College in 2017. (Steven Senne/AP)

Williams did not respond to an interview request, but he talked about cannabis and discomfort management in a 2016 documentary developed by Sports Illustrated.

“I feel when the only selections are Toradol or Indocin or Vicodin, that is the NFL not performing a pretty excellent job,” he stated. “If you happen to be going to say we can place that poison in our bodies, but we can not place cannabis in our bodies, I do not feel that is fair.”

Now, Gronkowski is producing the identical argument and also following Williams into the cannabis small business. If Gronk’s message gets a warmer reception from the NFL and its fans, there might be a quantity of motives, stated Melissa Butler, who teaches the sociology of sport at Clark University.

For 1 issue, public opinion of cannabis has shifted in current years. For yet another, Williams has appeared on camera, smoking joints, though Gronkowski is pitching topical ointments that do not get you higher. But Butler stated it is also considerable that Gronkowski is white, and Williams is black.

“Black players have normally been noticed as threats that are told to be silent, to shut up and play this is not your function to be this spokesperson,” Butler stated. “Gronkowski is this exciting-loving guy. He does a lot to legitimize it devoid of getting a threat to anyone. And that is race.”

Even if Gronkowski’s race aids him alter perceptions of cannabis use, the NFL and other sports leagues will not have the energy to alter federal law. But leagues could unwind their cannabis testing requirements.


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