The NFL is dominating headlines across the world as Super Bowl LVII approaches. Over the past decade, active and retired athletes have stepped up to the line of scrimmage to advocate for cannabis as well as invest and create unique companies within the industry.
In a sport where career security hinges on health, NFL athletes have been forced to take extreme measures relying on opioids and pain medications to cope with injuries as well as to stay in game ready. Feeling the pressure from athletes across the country for plant-based modalities, the NFL loosened testing provisions with new guidelines that allow players to consume Delta 9 THC-Carboxylic Acid during the offseason from April 20th to Aug 09th.
Inching towards the end zone, in 2022 the NFL pledged $1 Million dollars to cannabis research. Out of 106 proposals submitted, two teams from the University of San Diego and the University of Regina in Canada were selected by the NFL and the NFL Players Association’s Joint Pain Management Committee to investigate the effects of cannabinoids on pain management and neuroprotection from concussion in elite football players.
“We’re always interested in trying to improve our approach and our treatment for acute and chronic pain in NFL players, and we always want to make sure that our players are receiving the most up-to-date medical consensus around any of these treatments.”-NFL CMO, Dr. Allen Sills
Today retired and active NFL athletes are pushing for greener impacts on and off the field in an effort to normalize the Sports Cannabis conversation and push forward education as well as natural healing modalities.
Calvin “Megatron” Johnson Jr.
Elite football athletes are playing a pivotal role in the progression of Cannabis and athletics. Since retiring, NFL Superstar, Hall of Famer and Co-Founder of Primitiv Group; Calvin Johnson Jr. has been using his platform to advocate for greener impacts off the field.
Johnson was selected 2nd overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, playing 9 seasons. Nicknamed Megatron, he’s regarded as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time with career highlights that include; being a three-time All-Pro, Six-time Pro Bowl Team, the leading receiver two years in a row in 2011’12, holding the title for most receptions in 2012, co-lead the NFL for receiving touchdowns ’08 and in 2021 was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Pushing for an even playing field, in 2019, Johnson was named to the board of directors of the MiCIA (Michigan Cannabis Industry Association), the leading voice for Michigan’s legal cannabis industry which advocates for sensible laws, regulations and best practices. Leading the Sports Cannabis movement for athlete entrepreneurs, Johnson partnered with former Detroit Lions teammate Rob Sims to create Primitiv Group, launching several cannabis facilities across the state over the past four years.
Focused on cannabis education, Johnson and Sims donated resources to the International Phytomedicine and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard. Looking to change the narrative, Johnson talked about the importance of recognizing plant-based modalities in his Hall of Fame induction speech;
“It’s about time that we recognize the potential of phytomedicines, plant medicines, to aid and improve the mental health and quality of life for so many.”-C Johnson Jr.
With an opportunity to offer new applications for athletes and cannabis consumers, Johnson and Sims recently launched Primitiv Performance, a phytocannabinoid-infused CBD line of products incorporating nano-technology.
Retired NFL Legend, Cannabis Advocate and Entrepreneur Rob Sims is using his platform to change the Sports Cannabis narrative and push plant-based education forward. In 2022 Rob made waves across the world by teaming up with former teammate Calvin Johnson creating Primitiv Group.
Sims was drafted into the NFL by the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. He spent 9 seasons dominating the field playing for the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions. Dealing with injuries, Rob partnered in Cannabis which ultimately saved his career;
“Cannabis, in my opinion, saved my career and kept me on the field…”-R Sims/Sports Cannabis Interview
Today, Sims is moving the plant-forward with Primitiv, a company dedicated to positively impacting the global cannabis industry with an emphasis on breaking the stigma. From the field to the boardroom, Rob and Calvin have cultivated a meaningful brand focused on the advancement of cannabis as a form of elevated wellness and in recent years partnered with Harvard University to support medical cannabis research.
Retired NFL Legend, thought leader and entrepreneur, Ricky Williams is leading the Sports Cannabis charge off the field. Changing the game with Highsman, Ricky is using his platform to empower the plant as well as athletes and sports enthusiasts.
Williams played college football for the Texas Longhorns, receiving All-American honours twice as well as winning the Heisman Trophy in 1998 before taking his talents to the NFL. Ricky was drafted in 1999, in the first round, fifth overall to the New Orlean Saints before being traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2002 and led the league in rushing, earned First-Team All-Pro honours and as well as a Pro Bowl Selection.
Williams ultimately discovered the healing properties of Cannabis after retiring, partnering in the plant to help manage pain, injuries and the stresses of being an elite professional athlete;
“I first started using cannabis simply because it felt good…” adding “I felt better when I smoked and that’s why I kept using it. I value feeling good. I noticed when I felt good, I slept better, I was happier to go to work the next morning and I tended to perform better. It’s an appreciation for feeling good. I would venture to say that’s true for most people. I think the issue is that in most situations there has to be a medical term associated with cannabis and that feeling good isn’t enough of a reason.”-R Williams/ Sports Cannabis Interview
Adam “PACMAN” Jones
Throughout NFL history there are few athletes like Adam “PACMAN” Jones, that have defined greatness and changed the game on a global level. From the field to the boardroom, Adam’s leading the charge and using his platform to shift the Sports Cannabis narrative.
Jones attended West Virginia University where he made a name for himself before being drafted into the NFL in 2005 by the Tennessee Titans as the 6th overall pick. He spent 12 seasons dominating the game with the Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos, with highlights that include; NFL All-Rookie Team, PFWA All-AFC selection, First Team All-Pro selection and a Pro Bowl Selection.
In late 2022, he continued his off-the-field dominance with the announcement of a partnership with Berner, Cookies on a new strain entitled “Pac Man” which can be found at California Cookies and Lemonade stores. Moving the conversation forward Adam talks about cannabis consumption throughout his career, mental health, wellness and the PACMAN movement;
“I’ve always smoked, let me say that for the Sports Cannabis community… Besides the time I was in the program, I’ve smoked most of my career..” adding “Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with a neck and shoulder surgery which was when the opioids were prescribed. Those medications came with a long list of side effects like mood swings, depression, and addiction. With Cannabis, there are so many different strains that can really help you dial in the way that you need to. There are so many incredible cannabis options that provide great alternatives to healing and that can help in a variety of ways. I’m a big believer in THC, and that’s why I teamed up with Berner, Cookies and came out with the Pac Man line…”-A Jones/ Sports Cannabis Interview
Retired NFL Running Back turned entrepreneur and activist, Mike James is using his platform to change the medical cannabis narrative.
Drafted to the NFL in 2013, James played professionally for 5 years with career highlights that include playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions. Plagued by injuries and looking for clean natural alternatives, James found significant relief in Cannabis. In 2018, Mike became the first NFL player to apply for Therapeutic Use Exemption for Medical Cannabis.
Today, he’s co-chair of the Doctors of Cannabis Regulation Steering Committee and the Vice President of Lion Order. Using his platform to shift the conversation James talks about the importance of a collective movement for medical plant normalcy;
“We have so much propaganda that has stigmatized this plant… It takes athletes like myself, retired, former and current, to continue to educate and speak on their experiences; this medicine is powerful and will continue to save lives…” adding “My movement is about health, wellness and medical cannabis acceptance in sporting leagues…. I’m pushing for a day where doctors look at cannabis as a first option for athletes instead of prescribing Ibuprofen, Toradol, Vicodin, Percocets or Hydrocodone…”-Mike James/ Sports Cannabis Interview
Retired NFL Tight End, Bo Scaife is changing the game for athlete entrepreneurs of color across North America. In 2022, Scaife launched his All Pro Cannabis Brand dedicated to helping athletes and professionals take control of their mental health and improve their quality of life through premium cannabis solutions.
Selected in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans, Bo played 8 years, dominating the field and setting a record as the only tight end in NFL history to rush for a touchdown, catch a touchdown, return a kickoff and record a tackle in the same season.
With an opportunity to change the dialogue, Bo talks about pushing for an even playing field in the Cannabis Industry for entrepreneurs of color;
“In every major industry, we’re seeing a lack of representation for black and brown people… We don’t get a lot of opportunities and I don’t take it for granted… I want to knock it out of the park, so that people behind me and after me can benefit from it…” adding “Like any sport, you need a strong team, and the same goes with any business. I think one of the biggest struggles in the cannabis industry is really finding those individuals that understand the industry, understand the plan, understand how to move it forward and how to grow it to its full potential. One of my main focuses is to be able to do that, and to be a model of that, especially as an African American male…”-Bo Scaife/ Sports Cannabis Interview
Retired NFL Icon and Super Bowl Champion Marvin Washington is advocating for an even playing field with a focus on education and transparency. A former defensive end, Washington played 11 seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.
Looking to shift the conversation, Marvin chats candidly about the negative impacts of opioid use and providing alternative treatment options for active NFL athletes;
“I’m not trying to kill football, I’m trying to make it safer… Let’s provide athletes with a natural alternative so that they’ll have longer careers and a better quality of life after their career is over…” adding “When we look at football, which is not a contact sport, but a collision sport of guys running into each other at 25 to 35 miles an hour, you’re going to get hurt… So the best ability that you have is availability… The thing with the NFL and even college football is that they introduce pain management with their medicine which is opioids, benzodiazepines and anti-inflammatories… I want to introduce something that’s non-toxic and non-addictive. We’ve been advocating this way for thousands of years. We’ve gotten away from the natural plant and its effects. I’m working to provide the same education under a doctor’s training and supervision so that they can give an athlete a certain amount of milligrams whether it’s CBD or THC.”-M Washington/ Sports Cannabis Interview
Toronto, Ontario, Canada