By Brian Tinsman

WASHINGTON — ESPN surveyed 226 of 1,696 (13 percent) of current NFL players about marijuana use vs. pain medication, and the results shed a scary light on the issue of pain management.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 71 percent of NFL players think marijuana should be legal in all 50 states. This compares to a record-high 60 percent of all American adults who now believe weed should be legalized. It is currently legal for medicinal use only in 25 states and Washington, D.C.

The underlying issue is the use of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive constituent in marijuana, as a replacement for the NFL’s regimen of pain killers and nerve blockers. Among the arguments against prescription painkillers is that they are highly addictive.

Of surveyed respondents, 42 percent of players believe that a former teammate became an addict as a result of painkiller abuse. An additional 59 percent of players are worried about the long-term effects of prescription painkillers.

Former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Will Montgomery talked extensively on the topic earlier this season.

“If you can get to game day, your adrenaline, a lot of times, will take over–or a little thing called Toradol–which a lot of times people are popping those things out like candy, even though I don’t know if they’re supposed to or not,” Montgomery explained to Chad Dukes and Chris Russell on 106.7 The Fan.

“The guys who take Toradol, they says don’t even feel the pain from the game until Wednesday or Thursday anyway, because their bodies just stay numb.

“So they go into a constant cycle of taking the Toradol, not feeling anything Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Then Thursday rolls around and they feel sore for some reason. They’re like, what’s going on? Some guys would take Toradol during the week just to get them through practice.

“At least 50 percent of guys are taking Toradol on a weekly basis.”

And that’s a major problem, especially if it’s leading to addiction to painkillers, and worse. The ESPN survey affirmed Montgomery’s estimate, with players estimating that 46 percent of players take painkillers on a regular basis.

It’s worth noting that if both were allowed, less than half (43 percent) of players would use marijuana, while 57 percent would still use Toradol. However, if it were legal, 61 percent of NFL players believe that fewer of their peers would take painkillers at all.

In light of Trent Williams’ four-game suspension for a missed drug test, announced earlier this week, there was one other revealing question about the league’s testing program.

According to the survey, one-third of NFL players think it is easy to beat the league’s testing for recreational drugs. Perhaps that’s why a whopping 22 percent of NFL players know a teammate that uses marijuana before the game on Sundays.


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