Ex-Eagles DE Chris Long Hopes to Destigmatize Marijuana, Change NFL Drug Bans

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 28, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 25: Chris Long #56 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on November 25, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After previously saying he wanted to change the conversation around marijuana use in the NFL, recently retired defensive end Chris Long thinks part of the problem is how society perceives the drug. 

Appearing on ESPN Radio's Golic and Wingo (h/t ESPN.com) on Tuesday, Long explained his views on and use of marijuana and how the conversation around it should be changed:

"Marijuana is a part of people's lives. It's not their life. And obviously then you have the minority, which is less than 10 percent of the responses I've seen, which are like, 'that stuff's the devil.' ... Hopefully the NFL will hear some of their players talk -- former or current, if you have the balls -- to say, 'something needs to change.'"

Long also explained how the NFL can help change views by altering its policy on the drug:

"We're dealing with a generational stigma so you're used to your fans being old guard people who bought into that stigma. I know some people struggle with it because marijuana, all the stereotypes are lazy, deviant people only smoke marijuana. ...

"I think at the end of the day, I would hope that they would consider lifting that kind of arbitrary ban. You've got one test a year, if you get tested more than that, it's because you failed the test."

These comments came after Long said Wednesday on The Dan Patrick Show that he smoked pot during his NFL career and that it's healthier and safer for players to use than alcohol or tobacco. 

The NFL appears to be adapting its policies to be more lax on rules for players who use marijuana. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported in March the league seems to be "prepared to make major concessions" in its substance-abuse policy relating to pot in the next collective bargaining agreement. 

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported May 20 that the league and players association will form two joint medical committees to study the use of marijuana as a pain-management tool. 

Under the current CBA and drug-testing program, players can be banished from the league if they test positive for marijuana six times. They are eligible to apply for reinstatement after one year from the date they are banned. 

Long was never suspended by the NFL for violating the substance-abuse policy. He played for three different teams in 11 seasons, winning back-to-back Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in 2016 and 2017.

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