The NFL is up in smoke...literally.
A Bleacher Report feature, exploring players' extensive use of marijuana, has former NFL star Jamal Anderson estimating that "at least 60 percent" of the league's current players smoke weed and that it's an invaluable painkiller, especially when dealing with a concussion.
"When I played, 40 to 50 percent of the league used it," Anderson, who played for the Atlanta Falcons from 1994 through 2001, told Bleacher Report about how many NFL players smoked marijuana during his playing days. "It's at least 60 percent now. That's bare minimum. That's because players today don't believe in the stigma that older people associate with smoking it. To the younger guys in the league now, smoking weed is a normal thing, like having a beer. Plus, they know that smoking it helps them with the concussions."
A positive marijuana result can result in an NFL suspension, as it's against the league's personal conduct policy.
As part of its feature, Bleacher Report interviewed 16 current NFL players over the past month, speaking under anonymity. Ten of the players estimated that 50 percent of the league's players smoke marijuana regularly two to three times per week. Some of the players said many of their teammates smoke marijuana three to four times per week and know how to work around not failing a league drug test.
The NFL's collective bargain agreement allows for one substance-abuse test from April 20 through Aug. 9. Players are well aware of the testing period.
"You know when the test is," said one player, who is also a union official. "Once you pass it, you can do as much as you want all year."
Some players smoke weed because they enjoy; others because it relieves the pain that comes with the game without having to use painkillers.
"The NFL might as well allow players to smoke it," Anderson said. "It's better for them. But also because players are smoking it anyway, with or without the league's permission."
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