The Baltimore Ravens have cut offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, the first active NFL player to speak out against the league's ban on medical marijuana. Yesterday, news emerged that the team was trying to dump Monroe via trade or by releasing him from the team altogether. No trades materialized, so Baltimore has opted to cut him. The team made no mention of Monroe's cannabis advocacy on its Twitter feed.
Earlier today, Monroe himself posted a response to being cut on Twitter. He expressed his gratitude to Ravens fans, and promised to continue advocating for ending the prohibition on the use of medical marijuana in the NFL.
On the Ravens' website, staff writer Ryan Mink cited health and salary as reasons for cutting Monroe, who missed 15 games over the last two seasons due to injury. But Mink also acknowledged what some consider to be the real reason why Monroe was cut: his medical marijuana advocacy.
"Monroe had surgery to repair a torn labrum (shoulder) this offseason, and used the time off to become the first active NFL player to openly campaign for the use of medical marijuana. The Ravens did not rally behind the cause."
However, this is not likely the end of Monroe's player career or his activism. According to FOX Sports, the New York Giants are interested in signing him as a free agent. But there's no word yet on whether or not they would support Monroe's advocacy.
Monroe lobbied to end NFL ban
For a long time, only retired NFL players spoke out against the league's ban on medical marijuana - a drug that might be a safer and more effective way of treating sports injuries than league-approved painkillers.
Last March, Monroe - an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens - spoke out against the NFL's ban. He put his money where his mouth is this May by donating $80,000 to cannabis researchers studying the plant's effectiveness in treating sports injuries. He seemed to have made headway earlier this month when top NFL officials held a telephone conference with those researchers in order to learn more about medical marijuana.
The Ravens haven't backed Monroe's position on marijuana
However, the Ravens' coach made it clear the team doesn't endorse Monroe's stance on marijuana. "I promise you, he does not speak for the organization," John Harbaugh once said.
According to Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports, "The Baltimore Ravens are trying to pass off their attempts to trade offensive tackle Eugene Monroe as a simple football move. Maybe it is. But it's really, really, really hard to believe this has little to do with Monroe's strong stance that the NFL should adopt marijuana as a pain-killing option."
Schwab added, "It's not like the Ravens woke up in June and suddenly realized Monroe has dealt with a lot of injuries the past two seasons...The Ravens aren't struggling with the salary cap (more than $7-million in room) and it's not like extra salary-cap room helps much in June. The Ravens just want Monroe gone, and are in a hurry to get rid of him as well."
Monroe agrees. Earlier this week, he alleged that the Ravens were distancing themselves from him because of his controversial stance on the league's drug policy. In a series of tweets, he suggested that he's willing to make cannabis advocacy the hill that his career may die on. He also clarified that he isn't trying to attack, but to work with the NFL for the benefit of teams and players.
@Ravens continue to distance themselves from me and my cause. I invite you all to do some research. I won't stop. This is for my brothers— Eugene Monroe (@MrEugeneMonroe) June 10, 2016
This is for the players that make up the team. This is for the players the fans love. Our families. Our future health and wellness.— Eugene Monroe (@MrEugeneMonroe) June 10, 2016
I don't say these things to slander the @NFL or my team. I say them because we need a solution. We need change in our health care.— Eugene Monroe (@MrEugeneMonroe) June 10, 2016
We need change in our drug policy.— Eugene Monroe (@MrEugeneMonroe) June 10, 2016