Eugene Monroe has had his share of bumps and bruises during his seven-year N.F.L. career as an offensive tackle with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens. He has had shoulder injuries, ankle sprains, concussions and all the usual wear and tear that comes from hitting defenders dozens of times a game.
To deal with these injuries, Monroe has stepped forward and called upon the N.F.L. to stop testing players for marijuana so he and other players can take the medical version of the drug to treat their chronic pain, and avoid the addictive opioids that teams regularly dispense.
“We now know that these drugs are not as safe as doctors thought, causing higher rates of addiction, causing death all around our country,” Monroe said in an interview on Friday, “and we have cannabis, which is far healthier, far less addictive and, quite frankly, can be better in managing pain.”
The Ravens’ weren’t impressed, though. Their apparent discomfort with Monroe’s pro-marijuana stance has led him to ponder whether his advocacy had anything to do with his release.
Just days before his release was made official, Monroe made a very public health- and safety-angled point to the Ravens: You don’t want me around because I’m trying to fix how we’re cared for.
Monroe said he was not afraid of any retribution for his stance in part because he said he did not use marijuana. But from the research he has done, Monroe said the benefits were strong enough to justify pushing the league and the union to relax its position, even if it hurt his standing in the N.F.L.
“My health is far more important than any possible career implications,” Monroe said. “I want to be there for my family.”