The NFL’s stubborn attitude on Marijuana has led to contempt from its fans, and that is never a good thing. This weekend, Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson was one of those NFL fans.
Because of the outrage, you may have heard: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the suspension of Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson this week. Henderson will be banned for ten games after admitting to using Marijuana to treat his Crohn’s Disease.
Crohn’s Disease is a living hell. It is an incurable inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn’s persistent burning abdominal pain comes with diarrhea, vomiting and weight fluctuation which can be managed only with a plethora of medication. Crohn’s sufferers are often relegated to lives fraught with persistent discomfort and agony. Marijuana is one of the few treatments that soothes pain and increases appetite.
Despite Henderson’s struggles with the disease, he persevered to play one of the most savage sports in human history. Unfortunately, this suspension will add another undeserved obstacle to his journey.
Understandably, this is upsetting a lot of NFL fans. The league is now on record having suspended Seantrel Henderson for ten games while dollying out shorter bans for actions that are undeniably worse. Notable examples include Giants kicker Josh Browns’ one game suspension for abusing his wife and former Ravens running back Ray Rice’s two-game suspension for savagely knocking his pregnant wife unconscious.
Saturday Night Live Star Pete Davidson Took to Social Media
Davidson, like Henderson, has Crohn’s and uses Marijuana to treat its symptoms. Pete Davidson, SNL’s ‘resident young person,’ has been a powerful advocate of Marijuana through his public work. According to Davidson, he ‘wouldn’t be able to ’ without help from Medical Marijuana.
On Instagram, he posted this statement under a picture of Henderson:
“This is disgusting. This poor man (Henderson) is in pain and marijuana is the only thing that helps some Crohn’s patients. Fuck the NFL for not being woke. We need to spread more awareness about the severity of Crohn’s disease. Sending well wishes to Seantrel Henderson. This honestly really aggravates and upsets me when people don’t take this disease seriously. FYI (Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback) Ben Roethlisberger got a 6 game suspension for 2 accounts of sexual misconduct.”
Davidson’s words cut deep; because of the publicity of this story, Henderson will be cited as another example of the NFL’s rut.
All of this is in the shadow of a drop in the NFL’s T.V. ratings and a battle for an increase in player safety.
The NFL’s Relationship With Cannabis
The NFL does not allow Marijuana use by its players pursuant to the NFL’s substance abuse policy. While this contravenes the fact that the majority of the states in the U.S. allow some form of Marijuana use, the NFL chooses to continue to uphold this policy despite the fact that it openly allows the use of much more dangerous medication.
In the past three years, multiple lawsuits have been filed against the NFL alleging that the league conspired to push them back onto the field while injured with the help of painkillers. These suits, though they have not been successful yet, are growing in number. They similarly allege that the NFL reassured them that there was minimal, long-term risk in this behavior.
Davidson’s comments allude to a growing movement for Marijuana legalization in the NFL. Former NFL stars such as Ricky Williams, Jake Plummer, Eugene Monroe and Jim McMahon all work as Cannabis advocates. The NFL Players Association, which is the union that represents the players collectively, stated last month that they would begin to look into Marijuana as ‘a pain relief alternative.’
The NFL Hypocrisy
The NFL has no problem entertaining offers to make money from the Marijuana industry.
For the American Marijuana legalization movement, the NFL is an important cultural front. In a league inundated with ads for the alcohol industry, is it that hard to imagine Marijuana-business assuming a similar role if federal legalization takes place? With so many states sprinting toward legalization, the NFL’s dip into Marijuana might have already begun. For example, a Denver-based dispensary attempted to acquire the naming rights to Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos.
The NFL has already entertained business with Marijuana companies. So why should they continue to punish their employees for using a legal medication for a good reason?
In context, Pete Davidson revealed Seantrel Henderson’s suspension for what it is: ridiculous. The NFL’s untenable policies cannot continue without harming players like Seantrel.
Hopefully, the NFL will see the error of its ways if Henderson chooses to appeal this decision. And, if he is successful, I hope Henderson will find another way back onto the playing field.