Throughout his lifetime as a football player, Jim McMahon put together an impressive resume.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, he was an NFL Pro Bowl selection, a two time Super Bowl Champion, and he racked up 18,148 total yards of offense over the course of a 15 year career as a professional quarterback.
Now, in his post-football life, he’s becoming an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana.
McMahon, now 56 years old, has recently begun talking publicly about the many health struggles he’s had to deal with since retiring from the NFL in 1996.
While a player, he sustained multiple concussions, and he says he also suffered a broken neck at one point.
Today, he continues grappling with the effects of those injuries. He’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia, and he regularly experiences severe headaches, depression, memory loss, vision impairment, and speech problems.
For years doctors prescribed narcotic painkillers to help him cope with the pain, but McMahon said they weren’t working.
“They were doing more harm than good,” he said in a recent feature story published by the The Chicago Tribune.
When it got to the point that he was taking 100 Percocet pills a month, he decided to give medical marijuana a try.
“This medical marijuana has been a godsend,” he said. “It relieves me of the pain—or thinking about it, anyway.”
McMahon said that after getting his medical marijuana card and using cannabis to treat his conditions, he’s been able to move away from the narcotics.
McMahon is the latest in a string of former NFL players who have become advocates for medical marijuana.
Earlier this month, a group of retired football pros officially called on the league to remove marijuana from its list of banned substances so that players could use it to treat pain instead of relying on prescription painkillers.
More generally, there has also been significant discussion recently about whether or not medical cannabis offers a healthy alternative to prescription painkillers, which can be dangerously addictive.
“While prescription painkillers have caused what authorities call an ‘epidemic’—deaths linked to the drugs quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, with more than 22,000 deaths that year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—it is considered virtually impossible to reach fatally toxic levels of marijuana alone,” reported The Chicago Tribune.
(Photo Courtesy of Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)