It will not surprise you to learn that Roger Goodell has some outdated opinions about marijuana use.
Marijuana is now legal, to varying degrees, in 26 states. That makes the NFL’s continued insistence on testing players for it and punishing them for using it increasingly stupid and a pressing issue likely to come up in the next round of collective bargaining.
Appearing on ESPN’s Mike and Mike show Friday morning to talk about the 2017 NFL draft, the NFL commissioner shared his feelings about pot:
Roger Goodell says on Mike & Mike that marijuana is addictive and unhealthy. He's not on board with letting NFL players use recreationally.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) April 28, 2017
The Goodell Bot is programmed to offend no one, so it isn’t at all surprising that he would say something about pot that’s blatantly wrong and completely hypocritical.
(Fun aside, it was on Mike and Mike the day after the first round of the draft last year when Goodell described the situation with Laremy Tunsil’s social media accounts getting hacked and showing him smoking weed out of a gas mask bong as “what makes the draft so exciting.”)
You don’t have to spend much time watching an NFL broadcast of any kind before getting inundated with beer commercials. Some of the league’s biggest sponsors are beer companies. Bud Light signed a $1.5 billion deal to be the NFL’s official beer through 2022.
There is nothing wrong with beer. Many of you reading this enjoy beer. I do too! But it is accurate to say that alcohol is addictive and unhealthy. Several studies have found marijuana to be less addictive. One report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 91 percent of those who try marijuana don’t get hooked.
Goodell’s statement is even harder to reconcile when you consider the league’s pain-killer problems. Several NFL teams have violated federal drug laws governing the use of painkillers, and court documents cited in a January report from the Washington Post found painkiller abuse widespread throughout the NFL.
You know what is really addictive and dangerous? Opioid painkillers. There’s a legitimate national crisis because of this. There is not a national marijuana addiction crisis.
Marijuana has been found to reduce the use of opioid painkillers and decrease chronic pain, things that NFL players in particular deal with.
So why does Roger Goodell have a 1950s view of marijuana use?
First, he’s programmed not to offend anyone; to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible, despite the fact that a majority of Americans now support legalization.
Second, this is a position Goodell is maintaining on behalf of NFL owners with collective bargaining talks on the horizon when the current labor deal runs out in 2021. The NFLPA has already said that it wants the league to moderate its policies on marijuana. At one point, they were preparing a proposal to address that with the league, according to the Washington Post.
Goodell can maintain the league’s hardline stance on the issue until the two sides get to the bargaining table. The NFL can give the players that concession, which costs it absolutely nothing, and not have to give up something that does impact its bottom line.
Even with national opinions about marijuana shifting and the science undercutting it, don’t expect Goodell’s stance to change anytime soon.