Tag Archives: pain
Super Bowl Champions Say the NFL Needs to Rethink Marijuana, Examine Potential Benefits of Treating Brain Injuries
(Editor’s Note: The following was reprinted with permission from www.nflconcussionlitigation.com)
By Marvin Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Scott Fujita
Super Bowl week brings back fond memories for us. We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears to earn our Super Bowl rings. For years, we put our bodies in harm’s way in the ultimate team sport, and for many of our NFL colleagues, the physical damage done in pursuit of our dreams is often permanent, and sometimes terribly debilitating.
The NFL is the preeminent sports league in the U.S. but it is woefully behind the curve when it comes to marijuana and players are suffering as a result. Many former and current NFL players use or have used marijuana to treat pain associated with injuries sustained on the field. There is a compelling body of research showing that marijuana can help treat pain and brain injuries.
Roughly a year ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed a willingness to consider the medical use of marijuana for players if medical experts deem it a legitimate option. He said, “We’ll continue to follow the medicine… that’s something we would never take off the table if we could benefit our players at the end of the day.”
It is time for Roger Goodell to make good on that promise. The NFL should lead the way in developing a more rational and science-based approach to marijuana. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, abundant evidence already exists regarding the medical potential and benefits of marijuana. Roughly half of the fifty states (representing nearly half of NFL markets) have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and over seventy percent of Americans support this reform. It just so happens that this week’s Super Bowl is being played in Arizona, a state that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
First and foremost, the NFL should allocate financial resources to advance medical research on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating brain injuries. In the case of trauma, a lot of inflammation occurs, which affects cognitive functioning and neural connectivity. A compound in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) has shown scientific potential to be an antioxidant and neuroprotectant for the brain. In a sport where closed head injuries are common, the league should be doing everything it can to help keep their players healthy during and after their careers. If the NFL wants to continue to grow its game, it must investigate potential medical solutions for its industrial disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Even the federal government holds a patent on marijuana for this purpose.
Second, the NFL should abandon its policy of drug testing and punishing players for use of marijuana. The NHL does not include marijuana among its banned substances and, just last week, the NCAA announced that it plans to re-examine its approach to drug testing student-athletes for non-performance enhancing drugs like marijuana because “they do not provide a competitive advantage.” The HBO show “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” reported that 50-60 percent of players currently use marijuana regularly, mostly for pain relief. Solid evidence already indicates that such use can reduce reliance on opiate-based pain medications as well as anti-inflammatory drugs, many of which present pernicious side effects.
Finally, the NFL should take a leadership role in addressing racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement as well as other injustices caused by ineffective prohibitionist policies. Many players enjoy the use of marijuana apart from its medical benefits, just as tens of millions of other Americans do. A majority of Americans now favor regulating and taxing marijuana, more or less like alcohol, and four states have approved such policies, with more likely to do so in coming years. According to the ACLU, African Americans are far more likely than other Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession even though they are no more likely to use or possess marijuana. This basic injustice should be of particular concern to the NFL given that more than two-thirds of all current players are African American.
As former NFL players, we recognize our role as leaders and role models. We firmly believe that reforming marijuana policies can, indeed must, go hand in hand with discouraging young people from using marijuana and other drugs. There is no place any longer, either in the NFL or the nation at large, for the injustices and hypocrisies of prohibitionist marijuana policies. It’s time for the NFL to be a leader and create a rational and science-based marijuana policy.
Marvin Washington is a retired 11-year NFL veteran, a Super Bowl XXXIII champion and retired players CTE/Concussion advocate. His is current a spokesman and advisory board member for Kanna Life Science, a phyto-medical company. Brendon Ayanbadejo is a Super Bowl XLVII and equal rights champion and he retired from the NFL after 13 years. Ayanbadejo is currently working for Fox Sports as an analyst/writer and sits on the executive board of Athlete Ally. Scott Fujita is a retired 11-year NFL veteran and Super Bowl XLIV champion. He currently works as a TV/film consultant, NFL broadcaster and sports writer. Scott is also a big supporter of human rights and other causes.
A drug abuse treatment center is using the ongoing wrongful death litigation involving Derek Boogaard as an opportunity to highlight the danger of former athletes, who suffered concussions, abusing pain medication
The California facility, Passages Malibu, suggests there are better ways for these former athletes to manage pain, rather than prescription drugs.
“After spending six seasons in the NHL, Derek Boogaard earned a reputation for being one of the toughest professional hockey players in the league,” notes the company. “When he died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in 2011, Boogaard showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain ailment caused by repeated blows to the head, as well as a high level of alcohol in his blood.
“At 6’7”, 270 pounds, Derek Boogaard was a fighter/enforcer, (who) … fought 66 total times on the ice.”
His family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL, alleging that the league failed to keep Boogaard “reasonably safe” and to “refrain from causing addiction to controlled substances.” Among the substances that Boogaard allegedly struggled with were Oxycontin and Ambien.
Boogaard received 40 prescriptions from the Minnesota Wild medical staff for pain medication during the 2008-2009 hockey season; more than 1,200 painkillers, according to the company. At the time of his overdose, Boogaard was recovering from a concussion, one of dozens he is believed that have sustained during his professional hockey career. Boogaard is also believed to have been administered Toradol, a powerful masking agent from pain, in the final two years of his career.
”Professional athletes compete at a level where they need to be aware of the dangers they face for the sake of their health and career,” said Pax Prentiss, CEO of Passages Addiction Treatment Center. “Addiction to prescription medication has steadily become one of the biggest health risks for people. Time and again, it seems that the perception among people is that if a doctor prescribes something, it is automatically safe.”