At a time when the NFL appears to be willing to liberalize its approach to marijuana, one of the game’s ambassadors admitted that he was a frequent user, and that the league’s testing program isn’t really designed to catch people.
During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, retired defensive end (and former Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year) Chris Long admitted that he “enjoyed my fair share” of marijuana during his playing career.
“We should be headed to a place where we allow players to enjoy what I would not even call a drug — it’s far less dangerous than guzzling a fifth of alcohol and going out after a game,” Long said, via Yahoo Sports. “Chances are the player won’t even make it to the club [laughs] to do this sort of thing that we all kind of wag our finger at when we hear about a guy getting in a fight or getting a DUI, you’re never going to read about him sitting on the couch and binge-watching ‘Game of Thrones’ again.
“I think from a standpoint of what’s safer for people and the player, certainly people in the spotlight, it is far less harmful than alcohol, it is far less harmful than tobacco, and at various points in the league’s history, they have engaged in partnerships on different levels with those respective industries.”
Long’s not the first to point that out, and the fact the league does business in a number of precincts with varying levels of acceptance of marijuana makes it harder for them to continue to deny its use. Long also pointed out the ridiculousness of the league’s testing policy, in which a player can pass one test a year (during a period which begins on April 20, of course), and be clear for the rest of the season
“I think testing is arbitrary. The league, speaking plainly, knows damn well what they’re doing,” Long said. “Testing players once a year for ‘street drugs’, which is a terrible classification for marijuana, is kind of silly because, you know, players know when the test is, we can stop, and in that month or two that you stop, you’re going to reach for the sleeping pills, you’re going to reach for the pain killers, you’re going to reach for the bottle a little bit more.
“On the weekend you’re going to have a few more drinks, and a few turns into a few too many. . . It’s just not the same. If you’re serious about players not smoking, you’d be testing more often. I hope they go the opposite direction and kind of realize how arbitrary doing that one test a year is.”
The league moving at all on the issue may be the surprise, though they’re leaning on the medical and pain-management perspectives for now. Long’s comments — particularly coming from a respected member of the league establishment — should open more eyes to the larger issues.