Former smoker, All-Pro and Heisman Trophy winning running back Ricky Williams endorsed the use of medical marijuana for NFL players battling the physical and emotional hardships that often mar post-football life.
Speaking at the 2016 SoCal Medical Cannabis Cup panel titled, “How Cannabis Will Save the NFL,” Williams, alongside three other former players, spoke on his use of marijuana during his career.
“I got to a point in my career,” Williams said, “where I realized I’m not going to be able to do this much longer. And at the same time, the teams don’t care. I had to take care of myself, and one of the ways I took care of myself was using cannabis. I go see the doctor, he would wiggle my knee around, he would give me some anti-inflammatories, some pain pills and say, ‘Just try and rest.’ That’s it. I think there’s a better way.”
Williams isn’t just blowing smoke about the lack of trust in team appointed medical personnel. An Associated Press poll of 100 NFL players found fewer than half believed team doctors had players’ best interests in mind. The percentage of players wary of team doctors’ motives jumped to 65 percent among those with four-plus years of NFL experience.
Legal in a handful of states, but still prohibited under the NFL’s drug policy, marijuana has become a drug of choice among former players, especially those dealing with the long-term effects of repeated injuries and the cocktails of pain medicines prescribed by team doctors.
The former running back violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy four times in his professional career and at least twice for marijuana use. In 2013, Williams dismissed marijuana use during his career as his Achilles’ heel, calling its effect on him as “more like spinach for Popeye.”