The NFL began testing for marijuana and other substances of abuse in 1982, the same year quarterback Jim McMahon arrived in the league from a Mormon university that frowns on various behaviors far more innocuous than smoking weed. Long retired from football, McMahon relies on marijuana for medicinal purposes. Recently, he suggested that he and other Bears were smoking it while playing — and that the team’s legendary head coach knew it.
“Mike Ditka would say, ‘Oh, all you guys, you pot smokers,’ That’s what he’d call us. ‘You pot smokers,'” McMahon said Sunday at the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo, via Ryan Osborne of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We’d say, ‘It’s better than being drunk out here. We’re still functioning.'”
On one hand, the NFL shouldn’t care what players do away from the workplace when it comes to smoking marijuana, as long as players don’t get arrested for it. On the other hand, the NFL had a clear policy against it in the 1980s, and Ditka’s apparent knowledge of it coupled with his failure to do anything about it makes him an accomplice of sorts to rampant violations.
He wouldn’t be the only coach who knew his players smoked pot and did nothing. For years, PFT has heard stories of that unmistakable smell of burning body odor wafting through the hallways of team hotels. As long as players can manage to avoid smoking after testing positive enough times to face a suspension, most coaches and teams don’t care if players do it.
Ditka apparently didn’t like it. But he also apparently opted for inaction, since he only would have been hurting himself by making players unavailable to play.