Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers criticized the NFL's stance on natural remedies for pain management, saying highly addictive painkillers used to be "easily accessible" and admitting to playing a game on Percocet.
"The pain management, especially with our sport, is fascinating to see how things are 'treated.' I use quotations on treated because, up until probably a decade ago, it was easily accessible to get oxy, Percocet, Vicodin, whatever you wanted. ... you played [on painkillers], definitely," Rodgers said on the Joe Rogan Experience (39-minute mark).
"[I played] on Percocet. It was more for pain management, so I wasn't taking any high dosage, but stupid, ultimately. Here's the thing: I had knee issues for a long time, and you take anti-inflammatories. You're taking anti-inflammatories, they all come with a warning: If you take this more than a few weeks, you've gotta get your blood tested because it can do damage to your liver. There are so many things you can take now, anti-inflammatory things, that are natural, that don't cause damage to your body."
Rodgers went on to say the NFL has done a better job of monitoring the use of addictive painkillers over the last decade but expressed frustration that CBD and other natural remedies are "frowned upon."
"It's ass backwards, the whole treatment of professional athletes—definitely in our sport, that we're still giving out that stuff," Rodgers said.
The reigning NFL MVP has been an increasing public proponent of natural medicine. He took flak last season for famously misleading journalists by saying he was "immunized" for COVID-19 when he had not taken a vaccine. When it became public knowledge that Rodgers was unvaccinated, he said he sought alternative treatments.
Rodgers credited his brilliant performance for the last two seasons to his use of ayahuasca, a psychedelic tea that is illegal in the United States. The NFL has said it has no plans on punishing Rodgers for his use of the drug.
Prescription painkiller abuse has been a long-running topic across the NFL, with journalists uncovering a past of the highly addictive substances often being given away without a medical purpose. The NFL cracked down amid those investigative reports, but that came after decades of career-altering penalties handed down for marijuana, a drug with far fewer long-term side effects.
The most recent NFL collective bargaining agreement ended suspensions for positive tests for marijuana.
The NFL pledged a $1 million grant in February into the study of cannabis and CBS for pain management. Despite that pledge, the NFL still technically bans the use of CBD and marijuana.