ESPN's NFL player poll about marijuana had some surprising results

Shutdown Corner
Marijuana plants growing in Honolulu, Hawaii (AP)
Marijuana plants growing in Honolulu, Hawaii (AP)

It’s pretty clear by now that there is a disconnect between the NFL and its players on the topic of marijuana use.

Specifically, the NFL seems to be behind the times in its anti-marijuana stance, and players see no issue with using it as a painkiller.

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ESPN surveyed 226 players and came to some conclusions you’d expect, and others that were a bit surprising.

It’s no big surprise that players prefer cannibis over opiods, which are viewed as more dangerous. The NFL, which is very conservative in many areas, has been slow to change its views on marijuana. However, it was little eye-opening that the numbers in favor of marijuana use among players were so overwhelming, and that 67 percent of players think the NFL’s tests aren’t hard to beat.

A big surprise from the poll was that 22 percent of the 226 players said a teammate had used marijuana before a game. That doesn’t mean one of every five players is playing high; perhaps everyone who answered yes knew the same guy who liked to get high before playing an NFL football game. It’s incredibly difficult to play an NFL game even with a clear mind, it seems insane to try it after using marijuana (former Denver Broncos offensive tackle Matt Lepsis said he did in his last season and I was blown away that anyone could pull that off).

On election day next week, nine more states will have the opportunity to vote on legalizing marijuana. The national attitude seems to be changing towards marijuana, and NFL players appear overwhelmingly in favor of having it as an option for pain management. Former Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe spoke out for marijuana use in the NFL (and may have lost his job for it). Former NFL running back Ricky Williams has famously taken up the cause too. There are still reasons for the NFL to put off changing its rules, most obviously that the federal law on marijuana hasn’t changed. Also, no matter what happens on election day not every team will play in a state in which the drug is legal. So making marijuana OK couldn’t apply to all 32 teams yet. Some teams will still play in a state in which the drug is illegal.

But there continues to be a strong push for NFL players to have the option. How long can the NFL hold it off?

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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