Ricky Williams had quite the "welcome the NFL" moment when he was entering the league with the New Orleans Saints in 1999.
The 2002 All-Pro recounted to Mackenzie Salmon for USA Today's Sports Seriously when one Saints veteran suggested using marijuana to help cope with the physical toll of the sport:
"My rookie year, a Hall of Fame player on the team, he’s in the Hall of Fame now, invited me over to his house and he gave me the speech about how to take care of yourself in the NFL. And he pulled out some cannabis, crushed it up, split a blunt, opened it up, put the cannabis in there, took a Vicodin, crushed it up, sprinkled the Vico in there, rolled up the blunt and passed it to me. That was a vet, teaching me as a rookie, how to take care of myself in the NFL."
Williams also said he remembered during his one season with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011 when a group of Ravens players were "coming in with a plate full of 'brownies'" for a film session.
Especially in recent years, a growing chorus of voices spoke in support of the NFL changing its approach to marijuana. Proponents argued it was a better alternative for pain management than prescription painkillers, which can have adverse long-term effects.
In February, the league awarded $1 million across two studies looking into "the effects of cannabinoids on pain management and neuroprotection from concussion in elite football players, respectively."