The Seattle Seahawks came from behind in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in tonight’s NFC championship game, joining the Denver Broncos, who defeated the New England Patriots in the earlier AFC championship game, in heading to the Super Bowl.
Both teams hail from states, Washington and Colorado, that legalized marijuana at the ballot box in 2012. Recreational marijuana went on sale at government-licensed shops in Colorado at the start of this year. But you won’t be able to light up at the Super Bowl, being held in two weeks in New Jersey (with an assist from the NYPD), where recreational marijuana remains prohibited and the implementation of medical marijuana is going on at a snail’s pace.
Players with the Seahawks and the Broncos won’t be able to light up, either. Their contracts with the NFL prohibit the use of marijuana, irrespective of its legal status where they live. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, meanwhile, is only at the stage of contemplating letting players use medical marijuana, much like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The two states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use will have teams facing off against each other in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. Denver is representing Colorado and Seattle for Washington.
Both teams advanced to what's being called the Stoner Super Bowl by defeating rivals on Sunday. While the Broncos had a fairly easy 26-16 victory over New England to take the AFC title, the Seahawks staged a fourth-quarter rally to stun San Francisco, 23-17, for NFC bragging rights.
Denver boasts the best quarterback in football, Peyton Manning, who set records for touchdown passes (55) and passing yardage (5,477) in the regular season. They're the highest-scoring team in the NFL, averaging 38 points per game. In contrast, Seattle has the best defense in the league (just 14 points scored against them per game) and a quarterback in Russell Wilson who had 26 TD tosses and 3,357 yards.
One reason to root for Seattle is that Wilson has been supported by Phish, whose song "Wilson" has become a favorite at home games.
On the other hand, Colorado - and more specifically Denver - recently made history by becoming the first state to sell marijuana for all uses in stores. Washington State will follow Colorado's lead this spring. Both states voted to legalize it in 2012.
As of this writing, Denver is favored to win the Stoner Bowl by three points. Both teams complied 13-3 records during the season and won both their playoffs games. The are extremely closely matched.
Rumor is kick-off will be rescheduled to 4:20.
Who do you favor? Who do you think is going to win the Stoner Bowl?
Ayanbadejo did not identify which players or even which team was using the drug in a podcast for Fox Sports.
Ayanbadejo played for the Bears in Super Bowl XLI after the 2006 season and the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII last season, but he would not reveal which year the incident took place.
"I'm not going to say which Super Bowl it was, but I just remember getting off the elevator one night -- it was early on in the [Super Bowl] week, just to start the week off -- and all of the sudden I just got hit over the head with fumes of marijuana on the entire floor of the hotel that the team was staying on. ... I could just imagine there were a few young guys just toking it up in more than one room."
Ayanbadejo, who did not play in the NFL this season, said he was surprised his teammates would use marijuana days before the Super Bowl.
"I was like, 'Man, this is the week of the Super Bowl and you're just going in?'" Ayanbadejo said. "So then I was looking around, and I'm like, 'OK, where is the security?' I looked, and for some reason we didn't have regular police. Coach was smart enough to have rent-a-cops on our floor instead of regular police like we usually do."
Marijuana has been a topic of discussion this week as the Super Bowl features two teams from states to recently legalize the drug for recreational use.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll agreed with the notion that the NFL should look into allowing players to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"I would say that we have to explore and find ways to make our game a better game and take care of our players in whatever way possible," Carroll said at a news conference Monday after his team's first practice of Super Bowl week. "Regardless of what other stigmas might be involved, we have to do this because the world of medicine is doing this."
Marijuana remains on the NFL's banned substances list, and two members of the Seahawks' secondary -- cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond -- have served drug suspensions this season. Browner's suspension is ongoing.
.The NFL has finally shown the first flecks of common sense regarding marijuana use among its players. By no means is it time for players to start sparking J’s with reckless abandon, but there is reason to be hopeful that the NFL isn’t as closed-minded as the DEA.
Currently, eleven out of the 32 teams in the NFL have their homes in states that have at least legalized medical marijuana. Pending passage in congress, that number could soon climb to 17 (that’s slightly over 50% of all teams).
NFL Comissioner, Roger Goodell stated that, “if medical experts ever say medical marijuana would help with concussions then [he] would consider allowing it…I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.”
The SI article is very well researched and goes into great depth, I encourage any NFL and/or cannabis fan to check it out. What I found particularly interesting is the unofficial reality among players and managers that cannabis is still commonly (and frequently) used among active players. If a player has no previous recorded history with substance abuse, they are only tested for drugs once a year. Anyone who has ever had to pass a UA on the fly for an employment screening or something knows that, with some planning and discipline, it is not terribly hard to get by the piss test.
A former NFL general manager (spoke anonymously) in agreement of the NFL re-calibrating it’s view on marijuana, “a lot of NFL players play and function at a high level while regularly using pot, that’s the reality of it. They smoked pot in high school and college, just like many of their teammates and classmates.”
Erstwhile linebacker Steve DeOssie, who recovered from alcohol/drug issues while still playing, stated that “marijuana did not help my career,” but, “if marijuana became legal, the reference point for the NFL would be alcohol. Personal responsibility by players would be key. Players would be responsible to not let it derail their careers.”
I have mentioned something similar on responsibility in a former article. An agent interviewed for this story echoes my thoughts, “Some players who smoke too much pot, fall asleep in meetings and they’re not as able to grasp comprehensive schemes. I get that. Well, just replace them. Treat them like players who aren’t fast enough or skilled enough or responsible enough: Cut them and move on. The market takes care of itself.”
A note on cannabis and concussions:
This all still exists in the realm of theory, but there is work being done in Jerusalem that shows that brain trauma (concussions) are significantly reduced in mice when exposed to THC. It is likely a few years before human trials and all the other due diligence can be done for this idea to gain traction, but it is promising.
While I am hopeful that change is on its way, I think we should temper our hopes with some hard realities. Current attorney and former linebacker Shawn Stuckey says, “there is no good reason why the rule shouldn’t be changed. Smoking or ingesting marijuana would be tantamount to taking Benadryl or a sleeping pill before a game. As a player, I could have only dreamed of the opposing offensive lineman or running back getting high the day of a game. It won’t matter what the research shows, things won’t change until public perception — that is, those who financially support the league — changes because there’s too much money at stake.”
DeOssie, our other retired linebacker, agrees: “the NFL tends to be slow to react to changes. The league won’t address marijuana until it absolutely has to. This will be a long process for the NFL.”
Still though, it’s a drop in the bucket and that is infinitely better than a continued drought.
I think someone laced the Broncos weed....