In an interview recently, newly retired defensive end Chris Long shared that he smoked marijuana regularly throughout his playing career in the NFL. Some headlines are trying to paint Long out to be some sort of NFL degenerate instead of the upstanding and highly respected individual he was throughout his career. Is it really that big of a deal that Long smoked weed during his NFL career? No. It really isn’t.
The interview with Long when he shared details of his marijuana use
Long appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday night where he said, he “certainly enjoyed [his] fair share on a regular basis throughout [his] career. If not for that [he’s] not as capable of coping with the stresses of day-to-day NFL life.”
He continued to talk about the league’s testing policy for recreational drugs. It happens once a year on a predetermined date. So in the month or two leading up to the test, players avoid those substances. But, they typically turn to OTHER coping mechanisms, which is where Long believes the problem lies. “In that month or two that you stop, you’re going to reach for the sleeping pills, you’re going to reach for the pain killers and you’re going to reach for the bottle a little bit more,” he said. Those things are LEGAL in the NFL and would not cause a player to fail the drug test. However, Long argues that these things are more harmful than marijuana.
Why marijuana is the safer route for players
The reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year argues that marijuana use is “far less harmful than alcohol. It is far less harmful than tobacco,” and continues to point out that at several points throughout league history there have been partnerships with both of those products.
When it comes to painkillers, doctors are leaning towards alternative methods, instead of prescribing pills that block pain perception to the brain. However, sometimes these are best for chronic pain. And, in a physical performance based career, like football, sometimes they are the best and only option. However, the downfall is the addiction. According to DrugAbuse.com, short-term effects include partial sedation and delayed reactions. Long-term effects in the bloodstream can cause heart attacks.
When it comes to marijuana, a smaller percentage of users become addicted. Also, the withdrawal symptoms are extremely mild compared to those of withdrawal from painkillers.
Is it that big of a deal? Nope
Listen, to each their own. If this helped Chris? What does it matter? It isn’t a performance enhancing drug, and it clearly wasn’t a performance hindering drug based on the successful career he had with three different teams over 11 years. He donated every game check to charity in 2017. He runs a foundation to build clean water wells in Africa. He’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro several times in support of that initiative. And let’s not forget he’s the reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year and 100% deserving of that award.
Several other athletes across multiple sports have admitted to marijuana usage throughout their careers as well like Matt Barnes, Shaun Smith, Kenyon Martin, etc. Last year Martellus Bennett estimated that about 89% of the players in the NFL smoke weed to deal with pain for those same reasons mentioned before. It’s just safer and gets the job done.
Stop trying to slander Long’s name because of this
Several media outlets and a few people on social media have decided that this completely taints Long’s legacy in the NFL and have been crafting their articles in ways to make him look like the bad guy. Long was a hell of a player who was a leader on and off the field. A little bit of weed to help him through isn’t going to change that.