Eugene Monroe has given up pro football, but he vows to continue fighting for medical marijuana. Last week, Monroe - who made headlines in March when he became the first active NFL player to challenge the league's marijuana ban - decided to put his health before his career.
"The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to both my head and my body," Monroe wrote in an article for The Players Tribune published on July 21. "I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. Has the damage to my brain already been done? Do I have CTE? I hope I don’t, but over 90% of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I am terrified."
The announcement ends weeks of speculation regarding Monroe's future. In June 2015, the Baltimore Ravens released him amid rumors that his outspoken stance against the league's marijuana ban was the real reason he was cut. However, there were no shortage of suitors for the 29-year-old offensive tackle. Later the same month, New York Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo said his club wouldn't hold Monroe's views on marijuana against him, but instead of lacing up alongside Eli Manning, Monroe is hanging up his cleats.
"Today, I am making my exit from the game of football," Monroe wrote. "I’m leaving the sport I love — the sport that has consumed my existence for the last 18 years — to start a new life. I’m nervous, but I feel like I’m ready for whatever comes next. I have three beautiful children and an amazing wife, and they will be with me as I take these next steps."
But he isn't giving up on being a cannabis advocate or his determination to overhaul the league's drug policy.
"Even though my football career is over, I plan to continue to be a vocal advocate for medical marijuana research, particularly as it relates to CTE," Eugene Monroe wrote. "More steps need to be taken to curb the overuse of opioids in NFL locker rooms, and I won’t rest until something is done."
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