Calvin Johnson admits he smoked pot after every game as a means to control his pain, during an interview released on Friday, Sept. 20 with Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg.
He also spilled the beans about how a wide variety of opioids were easily accessible to players. “When I got to the league, [there] was just opioid abuse,” Johnson claimed. “You really could go in the training room and get what you wanted. I can get Vicodin, I can get Oxy[contin]. It was too available.”
Johnson suffered nine concussions and several other leg injuries during his legendary career, but says that’s a conservative estimate.
“I used Percocet and stuff like that. And I did not like the way that made me feel. I had my preferred choice of medicine. Cannabis,” he said.
He retired after only nine seasons with the Lions at the ripe age of 30 because of his incessant pain. Since he left before his contract expired, he had to pay a portion of his signing bonus back, but the amount was so insignificant compared to his earnings, he doesn’t even recall the exact amount. “One point six [million] or something like that,” Johnson estimates, and reportedly isn’t even bitter about it.
Recently, MLB’s LA Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died as a result of a lethal opioid concoction. This scenario of professional athletes hanging on to fulfill the limits of their contracts, despite their pain, should raise questions within professional sports.
Sure, a contract brings some level of security for their players and the teams who have developed amazing talent, but the need for pro-athletes to push through injuries to fulfill them may be so overwhelming they feel the need to mask it.
Are professional leagues aware their players are seeking their own pain management out and turning a blind eye to their tactics?
Chances are, if athletes attain medical treatment with the league’s team physicians, they’ll be forced out until they recover.
The timing of Johnson’s revelations about rampant opioid use in the NFL may be relevant to the crisis our nation presently finds itself in. Or, could his desire be to bring awareness to the fact that a three-time first-team All-Pro athlete can be a highly functioning regular marijuana user?
According to a Business Insider article, quarterback Jim McMahon became addicted to narcotics due to an undiagnosed broken neck and at one point, was taking 100 doses of Percocet a month. He eventually moved to using medicinal marijuana for pain management.
A Detroit Free Press article states Martellus Bennett of the New England Patriots claimed over 80% of football players are using pot to minimize their aches and pains in a recent podcast.
It seems word has gotten out about how marijuana can assist with pain control and has now become legal to use, without a prescription, in 11 states and the District of Columbia.
Compared to only one recorded marijuana overdose death in the U. S. to more than 70,000 opioid overdoses in 2017 alone, it makes sense why Johnson is capitalizing upon the legalized pot industry and now owns a cannabis company, called Primitive, with a former Lions teammate.