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The NFL’s Best Kept Secret

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I’ve had the pleasure of being on the sidelines during Ravens practices. I have knelt with notepad in hand and watched 250 pound chiseled athletes who run at abnormal speeds for bodies that big, race past me from about 5 yards away.

Just a few fleeting seconds after they pass you feel a breeze go by, the byproduct of mass and velocity.

And then you can’t help but be left with the thought, “What if someone that big and that fast hit you when you weren’t looking?”

It happens every Sunday on an NFL field.

Obviously professional football is a violent game. You see it on TV but believe it or not despite the technological advances in television where you can almost smell the grass while watching the game, the violence as seen from your living room doesn’t approach that on the field.

I remember playing flag and touch football in men’s leagues for the better part of a decade from my early 20’s to early 30’s. Towards the end of my “playing career” I recall how my body was sore from Sunday through Thursday and just started feeling better by Friday just so I could go and do it all over again on Saturday.

So I can only imagine what these players feel like after a game.

To put it in perspective, what they put their bodies through is on par with any one of us picking out a mini-van in a parking lot and then running into it at top speed.

That has to hurt, right?

A couple of seasons ago I saw a Tweet from veteran offensive lineman Lomas Brown who shared with the Detroit News that 50% of the players in the NFL smoke pot.

If true, I’m not surprised. Actually I’m surprised more don’t.

Rampant pot use is arguably the league’s best kept secret.

NFL players have no choice but to deal with pain. You often hear analysts say how healthy teams are oftentimes the best teams. But health in the case of the NFL is relative. No teams are healthy. Some may be less injured than others but there’s a reason the game looks faster in September than it does in January. The wear and tear hasn’t set in yet.

So how do the players manage pain?

Ibuprofen?

Vicodin?

Clearly there are risks with those, just ask Alonzo Mourning and Brett Favre.

Relatively speaking, could it be that marijuana is less harmful?

And if Brown is right, how is it that the players pass their random drug tests?

Might the league actually look the other way when it comes to pot?

Think of it like this…

Imagine if you were an NFL owner and invested heavily in the talents of these players and you know they struggle through the pain of an NFL season each and every week. And as an owner you recognize the importance of fielding the best product on Sundays. It helps to keep fans engaged, keeps them paying heavy ticket and concession prices, and it keeps the TV networks happy. Might you, like the State of Colorado look the other way?

Taking it a step further might it be worse if players head out to bars and clubs to let off some steam, soothe some bruises and potentially be exposed to environments where the potential for other problems is significantly greater?

It’s certainly an interesting topic for debate and HBO’s Real Sports will tackle the topic on Tuesday. Here’s a preview.

Maybe by looking the other way, the owners are indirectly endorsing marijuana for “medicinal purposes”.

And given the potential for greater problems with prescribed painkillers and alcohol, perhaps the NFL’s best kept secret isn’t such a bad thing.

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