Former NFL star: Why isn’t marijuana an option for professional football players?

Former NFL star: Why isn’t marijuana an option for professional football players?

Former NFL star:Why isn’t marijuana an option for professional football players?

Why isn’t marijuana an option for professional football players?For the typical American going to work every day, the demands of your job probably don’t include your daily dose of pain medications which are administered by your employer. Imagine being an employee at General Motors or Chase Bank and being forced to see your “company doctor” for all ailments and being prescribed addictive pain medications. Now what if that same job resulted in daily injuries, most of which would be considered debilitating for the general population?

Well this was the reality for me and countless other NFL players.

 After my third football-related knee surgery, doctors diagnosed me with arthritis at 24 years old. I went on to have a total of nine surgeries as a result of football injuries and my current ailments include nerve damage, a needed knee replacement and a host of other physical diagnoses that I won’t mention.

Oh yeah, if you saw me today, I’m a 37-year-old who feels great most of the time and I definitely appear to be in impeccable shape. I’ll be the first to say that pro athletes don’t need any sympathy, as we choose to play the sports we love and so we should bear the consequences that come along with it.

But the sad reality is, when you’re a young aspiring athlete and your team doctor tells you that something will help you recover, most 22-year-olds don’t break out the medical journals to understand the side effects. Actually, most people in general trust their medical professionals, especially when they are as elite as NFL medical staff, who usually carry the highest accolades in their field.

“If you ask me, pushing addictive pain meds on young pro athletes should be criminal.”

The reality is that I worked with countless medical staff members who provided toxic pain-management drugs for me to control my injuries and quickly reduce my swelling in an effort to minimize recovery time. I even witnessed coaches publicly embarrass people in front of the team if you didn’t get a shot or pop pills in order to play on Sunday, and even practice.

I took Vioxx (a pain killer that was later banned and removed from distribution over safety concerns) sometimes daily for years as prescribed by my team doctors and trainers as an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. When Vioxx was banned, we were prescribed Indocin and other pain medications and were given Toradol shots. (Both Indocin and Toradol remain on the market but with warnings about serious side effects including the risk of heart attack or stroke.)

I didn’t realize until after my retirement that Vioxx had been banned and that Merck agreed to a $4.85 billion settlement over the drug. This Merck settlement realization caused me to review lawsuits and reports on the side effects of drugs like Vioxx, Indocin and Toradol, which I used before, during and after games as well as for general injury maintenance in order to practice. Unfortunately my revelations were too little, too late when I already had years of daily prescription use under my belt during my five-year NFL career. Fast forward, I’m nine years out of the league and I’m starting to pay the price. After finding a tumor in my thyroid and battling through a few other health concerns, I can’t help but think back to at all those toxic meds and shots that I took for years.

It makes me wonder if I knew then what I know now: What would I have done if I had to choose between keeping my job and taking dangerous prescription drugs? That’s the one question that haunts me.

When I see a normal, non-sports team-affiliated doctor these days, he/she always clearly explain the side effects or at least give me options to understand what medicines I’m putting into my body.

So I’ve grown to learn and appreciate how the medical world operates outside of the NFL. Keep in mind that, in the NFL, we didn’t pick up a prescription from the local CVS, or have a doctor consultation to discuss side effects. We were asked if we could take the pain of a needle, we pulled down one side of our pants, took the shot of Toradol in the butt and hustled out to the field following the national anthem.

As strange as it sounds, most NFL players have never see a non-team-affiliated doctor until years after they are retired, which could be well into their 30s, just as I did. I mean, why would I? We had the best doctors in the world looking after us, right?

source and originally text here