Chris Long: 'I enjoyed my fair share' of marijuana throughout NFL career

Chris Long said he used marijuana during his NFL career, and thinks it's time for the league to let players use it without penalty. (AP)
Chris Long said he used marijuana during his NFL career, and thinks it's time for the league to let players use it without penalty. (AP)

On Monday, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced agreements aimed at improving players’ pain management and maintaining positive mental health, opening the door to formally allowing players to use marijuana and cannabinoids for pain.

Pass-rusher Chris Long, who announced his retirement over the weekend, is one player who is publicly saying it’s about time and shed some light on a lesser-known reality of NFL drug testing.

‘It’s far less dangerous’

Long called into the “Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday and Patrick broached the topic of marijuana, noting that Long has spoken before about the benefits of medical marijuana.

Patrick also recalled retired running back Ricky Williams, and what Williams’ career might have been had the league allowed players to use marijuana without penalty.

“Where are we headed?,” Patrick asked.

“We should be headed to a place where we allow players to enjoy what I would not even call a drug - it’s far less dangerous than guzzling a fifth of alcohol and going out after a game,” Long said. “Chances are the player won’t even make it to the club [laughs] to do this sort of thing that we all kind of wag our finger at when we hear about a guy getting in a fight or getting a DUI, you’re never going to read about him sitting on the couch and binge-watching ‘Game of Thrones’ again.

“I think from a standpoint of what’s safer for people and the player, certainly people in the spotlight, it is far less harmful than alcohol, it is far less harmful than tobacco, and at various points in the league’s history, they have engaged in partnerships on different levels with those respective industries.”

‘I enjoyed my fair share’

Long admitted that he has been a marijuana user.

“I’m not a dry snitch, I’m not going to put a percentage on how much the league smokes, but I certainly enjoyed my fair share on a regular basis throughout my career,” he said. “So, you know, and I was never afraid to say that and I’m able to say it more explicitly now: if not for that, I’m not as capable of coping with the stressors of day-to-day NFL life. A lot of guys get a lot of pain management out of it. Toradol did more pain management for me.”

Toradol, which is the brand name for the drug ketorolac, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that is not a narcotic and isn’t habit-forming, though it can have other side effects.

‘Testing is arbitrary’

Long isn’t the first nor the last current or former NFL player to admit to using marijuana. When Patrick asked the two-time Super Bowl winner about testing, Long noted that they’re pretty easy to pass.

“I think testing is arbitrary. The league, speaking plainly, knows damn well what they’re doing,” Long said. “Testing players once a year for ‘street drugs’, which is a terrible classification for marijuana, is kind of silly because, you know, players know when the test is, we can stop, and 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, you’re going to reach for the bottle a little bit more.

“On the weekend you’re going to have a few more drinks, and a few turns into a few too many... It’s just not the same. If you’re serious about players not smoking, you’d be testing more often. I hope they go the opposite direction and kind of realize how arbitrary doing that one test a year is.”

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