Chris Long’s cannabis campaign is just heating up.
The former defensive end, who just last week revealed his longtime marijuana use and detailed how he beat NFL drug tests shortly after announcing his retirement, said Tuesday he hopes the league will one day overcome the stigma associated with the drug, but admitted there’s still much progress to be made.
“I think the reaction has been interesting because even people that support you, it just shows the stigmatization is so ingrained,” Long said, via ESPN. “A lot of people like now are tweeting at me and every tweet is like, ‘hey man, are we gonna spark one up dude?’ I’m like, ‘Chill with the stereotypes.’
“Marijuana is a part of people’s lives. It’s not their life. And obviously then you have the minority, which is less than 10% of the responses I’ve seen, which are like, ‘that stuff’s the devil.'”
In the time since he disclosed his smoking habit, however, Long feels his underlying message has been overlooked.
“The lead was not that I smoked marijuana. The lead was that I talked about trying to destigmatize it. And hopefully the NFL will hear some of their players talk — former or current, if you have the balls — to say, ‘something needs to change,'” Long said.
Last week, two days before Long’s revelation, the NFL and NFLPA announced two joint agreements that will support further resources to address behavioral health and pain management, one of which will study the potential use of marijuana by players. Still, Long thinks the league needs to take things a step further.
“I think Roger (Goodell) is a guy who’s trying to get out in front of things and hopefully this is no exception,” Long said. “We’re dealing with a generational sigma so you’re used to your fans being old guard people who bought into that stigma. I know some people struggle with it because marijuana, all the stereotypes are lazy, deviant people only smoke marijuana. Well, if NFL players who are active in their community, are hard-working, they go absolutely nuts on Sunday and they play the game with violence and energy for three hours, that kind of challenges your stereotype. And it challenges the stereotype of football.
“I think at the end of the day, I would hope that they would consider lifting that kind of arbitrary ban. You’ve got one test a year, if you get tested more than that it’s because you failed the test.”
Long, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, finished with 70 career sacks and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2017 and Eagles in 2018. He’s also a former Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner.