When Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at an event last week in Manhattan, he made a vague, non-committal comment that continues to gather steam, more than a week later.
Asked about the possibility of allowing players to smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons in states where it’s legal, Goodell didn’t rule it out.
“I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries,” Goodell said. “But we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.”
While that hardly blazes a trial for blazing up, it opens the door for the possibility that the NFL eventually will acknowledge that rules are changing (in some states), society is changing (in more states), and players likely won’t be changing habits that, for many, currently including smoking marijuana.
With marijuana now legal for recreational purposes in two of the states where the league has teams, the ongoing refusal to allow players in Washington and Colorado to do that which is now permitted by law gradually will become more and more glaring. Indeed, if the league’s ongoing desire to tell players what they can and can’t do while working arises from the notion that marijuana use is illegal, that reasoning collapses in states where marijuana use is permitted.
As more states either allow marijuana use or simply scuttle the criminal penalties, it will become harder and harder for the NFL to continue to insist that players avoid it — especially in light of the possibility that it could aid many of them when it comes to dealing with the pain of playing football.
Even without potential medicinal benefits, there’s something unseemly about the NFL delving into what players do on their own time, especially when they are complying with the law.