Whether you are a fan of sports or not, you should be a fan of Eugene Monroe. Eugene Monroe currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens in the National Football League (NFL), and has made a lot of headlines lately due to not only his calls for more research on how medical cannabis can help players, but he also put up a $10,000 donation towards researches while challenging other members of the NFL to do the same. Eugene Monroe talks the talk, and walks the walk.
I have said it many times since Eugene started advocating for cannabis research to the media - I absolutely admire his courage. There are a lot of retired athletes that are calling for marijuana reform in sports, but they have the benefit of not having to deal with the backlash while still having to go compete. I don't want to take away from retired players, because their message is absolutely vital to reform in sports and in society too. Retired athletes like former NBA All Star Cliff Robinson are changing a lot of minds and helping breakdown the stigma surrounding cannabis, and not just in sports. As I've said before, a lot of my grandma's most conservative friends are now on the right side of history entirely because of Cliff's advocacy. That's powerful stuff.
Eugene Monroe's advocacy is just as vital, because he's looking forward. I'd imagine he's looking forward and envisioning what the rest of his career is going to be like, and for that matter, what the rest of his life is going to be like. Eugene Monroe has taken a beating on the field many, many times. He has been injured and has had to have surgery on his knee. As with all NFL players, head injuries are a constant concern I'm sure. So when he says that there needs to be research done to see how medical cannabis can help players who are dealing with injuries, I absolutely respect where he's coming from.
Another person that respects where Eugene Monroe is coming from is the owner of the team he plays for, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. Steve Bisciotti recently came out (after Eugene's marijuana research comments) and said that not only is Eugene keeping his starting position with the team, but that he stands by his player and respects him. Per BaltimoreRavens.Com:
"He is our left tackle going into next year," Bisciotti said. "I think a lot of the speculation about us moving on from him clearly comes down to the fact that he's been hurt a lot, because he's played pretty well when he's been in there. We've always been happy with him when he's on the field."
Monroe has also made headlines in recent weeks for urging the NFL to soften its stance on marijuana use, and calling for more research into how it could improve the lives of players who suffered concussions.
"Obviously Eugene is a pretty standup, professional guy," Bisciotti said. "To have an opinion about something like that is partial to being a leader if it matters to him. We're not the ones taking that physical abuse. We're not talking about a kid that's been suspended three times coming out and saying that. I respect Eugene a lot, and I think all he asked for is more studying on the subject."
The team owner didn't go as far as saying that he supports players using medical marijuana, but it does sound like he respects the push for more research. And anyone who is familiar with cannabis science already knows that that research is going to find - that cannabis is a very effective treatment for all kinds of conditions that NFL players suffer from, from chronic pain to brain injuries. Cannabis is also a very effective way to fight opioid abuse, which is a very real problem in the NFL, and all major sports leagues.
I wrote an article recently urging professional sports team owners and leagues to support medical cannabis use by players. Steve Bisciotti didn't go that far, but I still tip my hat to him for standing up for his player. I don't know that every owner would do that. Usually when a player is associated with cannabis, in any way, they get the 'marijuana scarlet letter' and are worked out of the profession. Owners, league executives, and fans should all support marijuana research for treating sports related injuries. Athletes are humans, and should be treated with compassion. To say otherwise is to put political views above human suffering, which is obviously unacceptable.