We've often heard professional athletes in the NBA, NFL and NHL say that marijuana's medicinal effects helped them maintain their game, by providing relief for their aches and pains. But now Eben Britton - a former offensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears - is saying it helped his performance on another level, much in the same way as it helps athletes like ultra-marathon runner Avery Collins.

Britton recently revealed that he was high for a few games in his six-year career. And he claims that cannabis improved his performance.

"NFL games I played stoned were some of the best games I ever played," Britton told Michael Kaplan of The New York Post. "Cannabis cements your surroundings. A lot of people say they're useless when they smoke weed. But hell, I played NFL games [while high], dude. My performances were solid, and I felt really good after."

He also said that the majority of other players have also figured that out. Despite the fact that the NFL has banned players from using cannabis medicinally or recreationally, Britton estimates that the majority of players use marijuana: "Over 50 percent," he told Kaplan, "and it could be as high as 75 percent." 

And those estimates are conservative. An anonymous agent told Kaplan, “The number is rumored to be as high as 80 percent.” An anonymous former player added that cannabis is commonplace in the league. “I had my weed dealer meet me at the players’ parking lot after practice for a delivery.”

Members of the league have been aware of players using cannabis for some time, according to former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. While speaking on an athletic panel at a cannabis conference last February, the two-time Super Bowl champion revealed that legendary Coach Mike Ditka knew his team was using cannabis.

"Mike Ditka [legendary Bears coach] would say, 'Oh, all you guys, you pot smokers,' That's what he'd call us. 'You pot smokers.' We'd say, 'It's better than being drunk out here. We're still functioning.'"

And not just functioning but excelling, according to Britton, whose comments could make the NFL and society in general rethink the stereotype of lazy, disoriented marijuana users.

Unfortunately, despite the number of players allegedly using cannabis, few have spoken out about it. The first active player to challenge the NFL's cannabis ban was Eugene Monroe, who was drafted by Jacksonville in the same year the NFL club picked Britton. However, Monroe suddenly retired last July after being released from the Baltimore Ravens amid speculation that the team dumped him because of his cannabis advocacy.

However, the NFL's Players Association is rumoured to be researching medical marijuana, so players across the league may speak out against the ban with one voice.

Banner image: CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 11: Soldier Field, home of National Football League team The Chicago Bears on November 11, 2012 in Chicago. Soldier Field has a capacity of 61,500. (Max Herman / Shutterstock.com)