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Jones: Explaining the NFL's real pot problem to Roger Goodell

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made a fool of himself again this week.

The commish, he of the $34 million annual salary, was asked on ESPN's Mike & Mike radio show if he was willing to consider allowing players to use marijuana for medical reasons, especially pain relief.

Here's what Goodell said:

"You're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered."

What's wrong with what Goodell said? Let me count the ways.

Seriously, there are so many clueless things about that quote that it's clear Goodell is out of his element and the league is out of touch when it comes to marijuana.

The NFL should stop testing for marijuana. Immediately. Let players use it however they want.

Even though pot remains illegal in much (but not all) of the country — Floridians overwhelmingly voted to legalize medical marijuana in November — players everywhere absolutely should be allowed to use it in the privacy of their homes to, among other things, deal with the pain that comes with playing football. More on this point in a second.

But back to Goodell, who sounds like he gets his ideas of marijuana by repeatedly watching Reefer Madness.

First, there's this whole deal about ingesting smoke. Perhaps Dr. Goodell isn't aware that there are ways to take marijuana besides rolling up a big fat joint and puffing away.

Eben Britton, a former lineman for the Broncos, told the Denver Post, "The fact that (Goodell) portrays it in this light, as if it has to be smoked, it feeds into the stigma of it rather than understanding that this can be used as a tincture (a liquid concentration), a capsule. It can be provided in many different forms.''

Even if the players do smoke it, it's laughable that Goodell is suddenly now worried about players' long-term health after the league for years tried to sweep the concussion issue under the rug. The league has battled former players in court over concussions. Sadly and almost daily, we hear about another former player who has either killed himself or lives in excruciating pain or can't leave his house by himself because he has no memory of how to get back home.

Goodell should spend his time worried about the long-term effect of concussions instead of how much air is put in footballs.

Next? The part about marijuana being addictive. There are plenty of debates and varying studies about whether marijuana is addictive. But do you know what is absolutely addictive? Pain killers that NFL doctors have handed out like jelly beans just to allow players to step on the field every Sunday.

That's the key when talking about whether players should be able to use marijuana.

Wouldn't you rather have them smoke a joint than take Percocet? Isn't eating a pot brownie better than gobbling down Vicodin?

Former and current players tell stories of how they were given whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. That was fine, but smoking pot is not?

Time for this all to change.

DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players union, went on ESPN's Outside the Lines this week and said:

"We intend to present a proposal to the league that probably has more of a therapeutic approach to those who test positive for marijuana. The idea is simply to make sure that we understand whether a player is suffering from something other than just a desire to smoke marijuana. I think all of us would want to have a process where, if there was truly a problem, we're treating the problem instead of just treating a symptom."

That's one way to do it.

Another way is to stop testing for marijuana altogether.

The league has so many problems right now.

The concussion issue is not going away. We are going to hear about the lives of more and more players taking dark turns to a slow, miserable death.

Domestic violence and sexual assault committed by players should be moved to the front burner.

And don't tell me you care about the safety of players when you force every team to play a Thursday night game four days after playing another game.

The NFL needs to truly do what's best for players. Allow them to smoke pot.

What's also best? Seeing to it that Goodell doesn't talk about it.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.

Jones: Explaining the NFL's real pot problem to Roger Goodell 05/05/17 [Last modified: Saturday, May 6, 2017 12:27am]
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