Retired running back Ricky Williams has long been one of the key figures pushing for changes to the NFL's drug policy, which forbids players from using cannabis. Now he thinks the league is finally on the verge of allowing players to use medical marijuana.
Williams thinks the NFL is starting to take marijuana reform seriously because the American public is becoming more accepting of cannabis.
"It's public opinion, and I think public opinion has started to shift." Williams said at SportsCon 2019 in Dallas on Saturday. "The NFL is obviously talking about it in the public."
To see how things are changing, all you have to do is look at the way that sports media treats cannabis now compared to Williams' days as a player from 1999-2011.
"I just think our whole country has come a long way in the past 15 years. The fact that before I was shunned and considered a pariah and now ESPN invites me to talk about cannabis on television. We're moving forward, and I think the NFL is eventually going to catch up."
Williams isn't the only former NFL player to praise the league's commitment to study cannabis. David Irving, who retired from the NFL earlier this year following a suspension for cannabis, said he's glad the NFL is finally looking at changing their cannabis policies. But he also thinks he should get some recognition for pushing the league forward on the issue.
"Honestly I'm happy but I feel like I need some credit, though. Really," Irving told Sports Illustrated. "Everyone was telling me how crazy I am and, what, two months after I make that stand they're now openly making changes and having discussions. I love it."
Any changes to the NFL's drug polices have to be part of the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, which is set to be renegotiated next year. Cannabis is expected to be a key issue during those negotiations, and given the NFL's research yields positive results, changes to their cannabis regulations seem likely.
h/t: Pro Football Talk