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Hooked Part Two: Jake Plummer battling NFL's shielded views

Ryan Koenigsberg Avatar
July 11, 2016

 

In the fist of our three-part series with Jake Plummer, we talked about the crippling drug problem plaguing many current and former NFL players and Jake’s quest to introduce an alternative painkiller, CBD.

Here’s where we left off:

“I just don’t see anything wrong with allowing grown men to take something that’s going to help them and quite possibly save the game,” Plummer said.

That’s the head-scratcher in all of this, why is a league that is fighting the growing public perception that their game is too dangerous, also fighting against something that could help their players?

“I don’t know, I can only imagine it’s because the people in charge are the kind of people that grew up in an age where marijuana was ‘The Devil’s Weed,’  the worst thing in the world,” Plummer guessed. “They were told for years that it was a gateway drug—first it’s marijuana and next you’re gonna be shooting up heroin and then you’re gonna be in a crack house. All this propaganda, lies and stories that they’re—I guess—brainwashed by.”

“I see it changing, eventually,” he added. “But it has to come from the players because the NFL’s brand and it’s image and ‘The Shield’ are way too important to those 32 billionaires to allow any type of tarnish on it that could make it look bad, which it wouldn’t. It would actually show that they have compassion and think outside the box, and they’re progressive and proactive. . . I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the owners take CBD and smoke weed, too, but there’s something about it that they just can’t afford, in their eyes, to risk losing a million or two. . . If we can get the stigma gone, it’s going to be a no-brainer.”

The stigma is changing, in 2014 the country’s perception shifted towards a majority in favor of medicinal marijuana for the first time. Half of the 50 states have legalized medical marijuana, 20 states have decriminalized it, four states have legalized it for recreational purposes, and there is legislation in place all over the country for more reform.

It’s important to note, though, that while Plummer, like many others, believes NFL players should be allowed to use marijuana without being punished, CBD, what he’s advocating for the most, is not weed. It’s another stigma that must be overcome.

“We’re not advocating for smoking marijuana,” he said. “We don’t want to lead young kids to believe that’s what they should do, but the whole country is changing their ideals and their beliefs towards cannabis in general. NFL players should be allowed to take what they want, why should you care? Just get your damn fantasy points, right? That’s ultimately what it is, just give me fantasy points while I drink my Bud Light and tweet at you for being a loser.”

The-Clinic-Text-Ad1Just last week, in a story about part one of our series with Plummer, Yahoo Sports took our quote saying how Plummer uses CBD every day and re-worded that to “The 41-year-old said he smokes CBD, or cannabidiol, daily.”

This is the kind of uninformed misconception that Plummer is talking about.

You don’t “smoke” CBD. While you can ingest it via a vaporizer, something many folks do for instant relief of headaches among other things, the most common use is the tincture form, which is taken with a dropper, orally.

“A naturally occurring, non-addictive, non-psychoactive, non-toxic neuroprotectant for the brain and an anti-inflammatory,” Plummer explained. “Let’s be realistic here; this is something that could really help save the game if it is, as our government already has patented, a neuroprotectant and an anti-inflammatory.”

It’s gaining steam.

“What I’ve gathered from talking with a few guys and hearing current players talk, is that they are talking about it, they want to have a healthy option,” Plummer stated. “They would like a choice that isn’t so bad for them. Something that isn’t going to have them leaving the league with an insanely awful, hard, hard thing to break in an addiction to narcotics. There’s definitely a problem.”

“I wish Mr. Bowlen was able to listen and hear me out right now, talk to me about this.”

So how far are we from a change?

“2021 is the next CBA so hopefully not that long because that means that’s five more years, that means I’ll be 46,” Plummer said. “That means the guys I played with, especially the o-lineman will be in their early 50s, and that’s usually when o-lineman start to bite the dust, their life-expectancy is 55. Hopefully sooner rather than later and that’s why we’re pushing this hard, trying to go the right route and make sure we get this study going; not wait to get it going or not drag our feet and wait three years.”

One of the worst parts of the current system for Plummer is that guys are using alcohol as a legal way to relieve pain, stress, or even to relax.

“It’s insane, it’s hard to quantify for me when you look at all of the commercials for alcohol and we know that it’s bad for you, alcohol does you no good but, you know? The main sponsor for the game we love is Bud Light, right? Which is an awful choice if you’re an athlete and you want to function the next day.”

“I know that the only bad things that I’ve ever done in my life have been because of alcohol, too much alcohol. They should be allowed to choose what they’re taking.”

For something to get done before the next collective bargaining agreement, there will have to be an uprising—from the players or the fans or both. The hope is to create enough buzz to get into the ears of an owner who has sympathy for his players, an owner like the great one Plummer played for during his time in Denver.

“I wish Mr. Bowlen was able to listen and hear me out right now, talk to me about this,” the former Bronco explained. “I would have been in his office right away because I think he’s one of those rare owners that I know that, ultimately, it wasn’t about the bottom line for him. He treated his players, his organization and his employees from the top down with such respect and that’s why the Broncos are successful. He would definitely listen about this if I was able to talk to him and offer something that could help his players feel better, live better and perform better. Not all of the owners are like him, though, it’s their business, their bottom line.”

For him, it’s more about these other owners and less about the NFL commissioner.

“I like Roger Goodell; I think he has a tough job,” Plummer said. “I just don’t know if he’s really allowed to make those decisions to try and do that job right. He takes a pretty bad wrap, and I think that people forget that the 32 billionaires picked him, and that means that they get to control him. I’d be more mad at the owners that aren’t doing more progressive stuff for the players.”

Until they find that owner who can be convinced, they keep pushing for education, keep pushing for research. Keep hoping current players like Eugene Monroe, who has donated $80,000 of his own money to the cause, will speak their minds and get people talking.

For now, though, Plummer will just dream of what the future may hold.

“When we’re able to give it to the players, I’m really excited to see how it helps them, I hope that it can do something,” he explained. “If it doesn’t do something immediately, maybe it can do something to protect them for when they retire and they’re my age. Instead of—you know, you read the stories—driving their car into a group of kids at a football camp and going to jail. Or even worse, killing themselves. Maybe they’ll be in a lot better situation, and you’ll see a lot more guys retire feeling good instead of being broken down, mad, bitter and on the edge.”

He dealt with his own pain during and after his career; he knows how hard it can be.

Life-Flower-in-content-ad- (1)“I played a lot of handball after my NFL days, handball didn’t cause the damage or the pain, there was already damage done,” the former quarterback explained. “I had my hips operated on which sucked. It was a painful, long rehab. I doubted myself and wondered why the hell I played for a long time. I wish I had CBD then; it would’ve helped me through that whole process, heal faster, I believe, and also I think it would have given me the mental ability to cope with what I was going through.”

But how does one go about changing the NFL? Plummer thinks that it can be done anonymously. As more and more players discover the CBD alternative, you may see this come to fruition.

“The perfect scenario is that we get every current player to sign up for our study,” he continued. “Register confidentially, anonymously, you’re nothing but a number, we won’t know anyone’s information other than their number. We’ll be able to look at what they take during the season, how often they use it, and then be able to find out what players are receptive to, give them CBD and see if it helps them.

“If ultimately it does, then we’ve just provided something to help these guys live better lives, man. What an awesome thing to be involved in. . . We want to bring, not anecdotal evidence, but real, scientifically proven evidence that cannabis and most notably CBD is good for these players and should be given to every one of them.”

Jake Plummer has a lot of strong opinions about what’s going on in the NFL, strong opinions about how the owners are handling things and how the league is running things, but he wants to make one thing very clear.

“Football is awesome,” he said vibrantly. “I’m not doing this because football is bad or any of that. Football is awesome. I love football; it’s so much fun. We’re not fighting the league, we’re not fighting the game, we’re just offering something that might help it.”

 

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