Gronkowski suggests that he’ll unretire if NFL legalizes CBD

As the clock continues to tick toward the deadline for a 2019 return from tight end Rob Gronkowski, Gronk has hinted that he’ll return in 2020 — if the NFL makes one specific change to its rules.

Via Stefan Geller of the Boston Herald, Gronkowski called on the NFL to permit players to use CBD, suggesting that, if he’s allowed to use it, he’ll return to action.

“I don’t want to be banned from playing the sport I love because I’m using a product that anyone can buy right off the shelf at their local pharmacy,” Gronkowski said at a press conference. “I’m not really sure why it’s banned.”

Well, it’s banned because it’s on the list of banned substances. And it continues to be banned because the NFL refuses to make any changes to the list of banned substances without some sort of concession from the union.

Apart from any concession that the NFL may receive, Gronkowski has given the NFL an incentive to soften its stance.

“I also want to have the option to get back into the game, and if I’m banned next year I can’t,” Gronkowski said.

Gronkowski explained that “agony” from physical pain makes it hard to focus during meetings.

“I’m not saying you put this on and you’re going to be healed, that it’s a miracle,” Gronkowski said. “But you can apply this and it’ll help manage the pain, and then you can get treatment and it’ll be a lot less stressful to the body.”

Here are two important realities to consider regarding Gronkowski’s remarks. First, he has partnered with a CBD company. He’s getting paid by that CBD company to advocate for its use.

Second, and more importantly, the NFL’s current rules make it easy to use CBD during football season. If the player is clean during the offseason substance-abuse policy testing window that runs from late April to early August, the player can use CBD at will during training camp, the preseason, the regular season, and the postseason.

That reality makes Gronkowski’s not-so-subtle quid pro quo (there’s that phrase again) meaningless. If he really wants to return in 2020, he can use CBD during football season as long as he doesn’t test positive during his annual offseason test.