Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe made history in March 2016 when he became the first active NFL player to speak out against the league's ban on marijuana, which could be a safer and more effective medicine for sports injuries than league-approved opioids like oxycodone.
In an interview with Katie Couric published today by Yahoo! News, Monroe opened up about why he spoke out and what he wants the NFL to do about its drug policy.
He said that hearing retired NFLers discuss problems with prescription painkillers compelled him to take action on behalf of himself and other players. "What I noticed was that former players would openly speak about their experiences being addicted to opioids that they were prescribed by their team doctors," Monroe told Couric.
Those retirees include Kyle Turley, who also spoke with Couric. Turley says he turned to cannabis to help treat vertigo, outbursts of rage, suicidal thoughts and other lingering symptoms of brain injuries sustained during his playing career.
"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for cannabis - period. Cannabis has saved my life."
These testimonies made Monroe worry about suffering similar side effects from treating injuries, which are inevitable in the NFL. So he decided to take a stand.
"I want the NFL to take a serious look at the medical value of cannabis, which they currently deny," he told Couric. "I want them to stop testing players and stop punishing players for consuming cannabis - a substance that's safer at managing pain than what they're currently prescribing."
Joining Monroe for a studio interview was Derrick Morgan, another current player who wants the league to reconsider its cannabis ban. The Tennessee Titans linebacker told Couric that he's not afraid of potential backlash for taking a stand. Earlier this month, Monroe was released from the Baltimore Ravens and some speculate that his advocacy work might have something to do with him getting cut.
But Morgan says speaking out is more important than worrying about his career.
"Thinking of the benefits that will come from spreading the awareness and the knowledge about this substance...greatly outweighs any backlash or ramifications that might come about it. It's about not only us but former players, future players and, more so, society as a whole."
h/t Yahoo! News.