“Well, our system, our testing, has been in place for years and not unlike we do in our organization … we always look to see how we can do it better,” Stephen Jones told PFT Live. “I think Jerry’s opinion, my opinion, is this program, this system has been in place for a long time. I think it needs to be heavily scrutinized in terms of its results.
“Is it helping players in terms of their accountability? And, obviously, addiction is a sickness and you want to make sure — obviously, there’s accountability but it’s also a program that helps players get better. … Jerry and I think that it could be done better and we just need to take a look at it. Like I said, it’s been the same program that’s been in place for many, many years and I think all things to do with the NFL, we should all want the very best for our players. We should want the very best for our organizations and we should want the very best for our fans, and that’s anything that has to do with the NFL.
“In my opinion, we should take a long hard look at how we’re doing this and see if there’s a way, a better way to do it. What that is, I don’t have the answer. But we have a lot of smart people that can get in there and analyze something and really make some good decisions and see if there need to be changes.”
Unlike NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Joneses seem able to separate recreational and medicinal uses of the plant. “I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show last week. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren’t something that is something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road.”
Increasingly, active and former players are becoming aware of the relief marijuana can bring and are urging a change in the league’s ban, which would have to be negotiated into the next collective bargaining agreement between the union and players. Already, the NFL Players Association has said it plans to propose changes to the policy and former players are pressing for a change as they seek alternative treatments because of their growing awareness of the dangers of painkillers and anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, which was overprescribed by team physicians. The sport’s overreliance on drugs for pain management is the focus of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and one study showed that retired NFL players use opioids at four times the rate of the general population.
The Post’s Rick Maese accompanied former NFL players recently as they visited CW Hemp, a Colorado company, and listened as representatives explained that its cannabis is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), which acts much differently than the marijuana that most people know. Founded to help cancer patients get through radiation and chemotherapy, the company grows plants that an official told former players used to be called a “hippie’s disappointment” because they are high in CBD and low in THC, the ingredient that supplies a high. Although it remains a Schedule 1 drug deemed by the government to have no medicinal value, the Food and Drug Administration is considering how it classifies CBD, an extract that could be approved for prescription as a medication if the DEA classifies it differently from marijuana.
While the Trump administration may crack down on marijuana, it is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, another reason Stephen thinks the NFL’s relationship to marijuana should be re-examined.
“You know, I think it should be a part of what’s looked at,” he said. “When you re-look at the whole program, I think you should take a look at every aspect of it. From the testing to the discipline to the amounts, anything to do with this. At the end of the day our goal should be to help players who have sicknesses and addictions and make them better people off the field, and then how we go about that I think is what needs to be looked at and make sure we’re doing everything the best way we can do it. Obviously, when you look at something like that you have to look at, ‘How do we do it in society right now? How does that affect the way a player sees his situation in that lens?’ And then make decisions based on that.”
Of course, NFL management has another significant reason for taking another look at the ban. It is taking players, such as Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory, off the field. But whatever his motives, Jerry Jones is the most powerful man in the NFL and his position on what has been a controversial topic is significant.