Nate Jackson was an NFL tight end from 2003 to 2008 and his medical chart reads like he’s a paratrooper whose chute didn’t open. In a column for the New York Times called The NFL’s Absurd Marijuana Policy, Jackson lists his injuries: “I broke my tibia, dislocated my shoulder, separated both shoulders, tore my groin off the bone once and my hamstring off the bone twice, broke fingers and ribs, tore my medial collateral ligament, suffered brain trauma, etc.” Jackson says he medicated with marijuana and that it helped him cope. Lots of other players are doing the same, just the way lots of non-football-playing Americans do. Jackson says he preferred marijuana to opiates and opioids, powerful prescription painkillers that sometimes kill the people along with the pain.
The NFL drug policy issue will take a backseat in the foreseeable future to the problems of violence that are endemic to NFL culture, problems that are currently under the microscope because of the Ray Rice incident. Jackson himself says “Professional football is a violent trade.” Jackson, among his other reasonable claims, asserts that marijuana can be used “to offset the brutality of the game.” Surely a sport where choice is between everybody being stoned or everybody being violent has some work to do to find its balance.