Weeks after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hinted at his increasing open-mindedness to medical marijuana, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll echoed that sentiment Monday, per ESPN New York’s Dan Graziano.
“I would say that we have to explore and find ways to make our game a better game and take care of our players in whatever way possible,” Carroll said. “Regardless of what other stigmas might be involved, we have to do this because the world of medicine is doing this.”
Among the many subtexts to Sunday’s Super Bowl is the matchup between two teams that play in states where marijuana has been legalized. Washington and Colorado, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, both passed ballot initiatives in 2012 lifting bans on recreational marijuana use for people 21 years and older. Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states, and as sports law expert Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated has noted, 11 of the NFL’s 32 teams play in states where medical marijuana is legal. That figure could soon balloon to 17 with upcoming legislation.
Research has suggested that medical marijuana could help NFL players with routine injuries like joint pain and headaches, and some believe it could also improve recovery times for players who suffer concussions. That it could help with head injuries has caught the intrigue of the man at the top, as Goodell said last week that the NFL “will follow medicine” if it decides to change how it treats the drug.
Both Super Bowl teams lost players to marijuana suspensions in 2013. Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner is serving a yearlong suspension for reportedly using the substance. Denver linebacker Von Miller was suspended six games related to a marijuana violation at the beginning of the season.