When NFL owners got together last month, the Cowboys' Jerry Jones floated a provocative idea, reports NBC Sports. He suggested the league lift its prohibition on marijuana and let players indulge. If the league is smart, it will listen, writes Christopher Ingraham in the Washington Post. Jones may be worried in part about losing players to suspensions, but Ingraham has a different rationale: saving lives. As things stand now, teams are happy to dole out opioids to players, even though research has shown they do little to relieve the pain so common to the game. What's worse, opioids run the real risk of getting players hooked. Marijuana, on the other hand, has been shown to help with pain, with nothing close to the health risks of opioids.
"The NFL, in other words, is pumping its players full of highly addictive and deadly substances that are of dubious use for treating the long-term, chronic pain suffered by so many players—and fining and suspending players who choose instead to self-medicate with a less-addictive and nonlethal substance," writes Ingraham. The prospects of Jones' suggestion actually happening are unclear. All would have to be worked out in labor negotiations between owners and players, and ESPN reports that players, perhaps surprisingly, may not want to do away with marijuana testing altogether. If players test above a certain level, for example, it may suggest a problem that needs to be addressed. The report sums up an idea being kicked around by the players' union thusly: "Let's still test for it, but let's do it in a constructive and less punitive way."