In order to be an NFL player, you've gotta to be able to take a hit, and then deal with the painful after effects. Baltimore Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe says that marijuana is an important pain reliever and he's putting his money where his mouth is.

He's the first NFL player to not only push for the legalization of medical marijuana, but also donate $80,000 to research on medical marijuana and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, a concussion disorder many professional football players experience.

In an interview with CNN , Monroe said, "your job automatically gives you the symptoms of chronic pain. You're hitting each other as hard as possible every single day in practice. Your body is in pain a lot of time."

There's been evidence to suggest medical marijuana could supplement, or reduce the use of, prescription pain pills, to which many NFL players end up addicted as a result of long-term injuries sustained on the field.

Monroe recently announced his $80,000 sponsorship of University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins research to examine the impact of cannabinoid therapy on NFL players. CW Botanicals and The Realm of Caring partnered to announce the donation. Monroe has long supported the removal of marijuana from the NFL's banned substances list, a position articulated on his website:

It's time for the NFL to change its archaic standards to better protect its players and set an example for our young athletes (high school athletes are more commonly using drugs than their peers and football players are most likely to use drugs). For too long, I've watched my teammates and good friends battle with opioid addiction and leave the game with a long road still ahead; it's time to make a change."

The $80K donation makes, arguably an even stronger statement - and is remarkable in light of the fact that Monroe doesn't use cannabis products himself, noting in a press release that he cannot take cannabidiol (CBD) for pain management.

The NFL, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, has stood behind the marijuana ban for players, saying it's "in the best interest of our players and the long-term health of our players."

h/t CNN, Merry Jane.