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NFL to consider players using marijuana for pain management

There are no immediate plans to allow players to use marijuana, which is banned under the league's current substance abuse program.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during the owners meetings on Wednesday in Key Biscayne, Fla. Photo Credit: AP/Brynn Anderson

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s chief medical officer said Wednesday that the league would consider allowing players to use marijuana if it means helping them with pain management.

The league and NFL Players Association recently formed a committee to cooperate in the study of pain management — including the potential use of marijuana. There are no immediate plans to allow players to use marijuana, which is banned under the league’s current substance abuse program.

“There are a lot of alternative pain medications and treatments,” Goodell said at the NFL owners annual spring meetings. “And those are the types of things that we want this committee to focus on, with medical experts and with medical science behind that. Of course, they will look at one of those is what role medical marijuana can have in that. That’s something that will be part of those studies. But it is much broader than that.”

Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said the committee will look at a number of alternatives, including marijuana.

“We have charged the committee with looking at any and all strategies for treating pain,” Sills said. “So, marijuana, cannabinoids, CBD — all those things will be on the list. But we’ve asked them to look at it and we expect them to look at it from a very scientific and medical-driven angle, which is: What does the research show? What does the data show? What are the best treatment strategies?”

Sills added that “it’s really important that we go where the science takes us here, not based on personal anecdote or opinion . . . I’m much more interested in that data than I am the self-report of your Aunt Mary, who happened to use a certain home remedy. We want the data to drive us to where we need to be if we’re going to recommend something from a medical standpoint.”

Tyreek Hill situation remains under review

Goodell said the NFL will interview Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who is barred from participating in off-season activities due to an investigation into child abuse allegations involving his son. Hill has denied being involved but could be disciplined by the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy.

“There are court proceedings still going on involving the child protection service, and we will not interfere with that,” Goodell said. “The priority is this young child. We will obviously be cooperative of whatever the court wants there. We are prepared to go ahead and have an interview whenever we have the permission to do so. And then we’ll make a determination based on what information we have at that point in time.”

Kraft could face discipline

Goodell wouldn’t speculate whether the NFL plans to discipline Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has been implicated in a prostitution solicitation case in Jupiter, Fla. He has pleaded not guilty on misdemeanor charges.

According to Goodell, “getting all the facts” is the league’s priority. “We’ll be gathering our own facts and trying to understand what actually transpired, as we would in any case.”

Goodell is empowered to discipline Kraft via suspension and/or fine under the league’s personal conduct policy.

Kraft attended this week’s meetings but did not meet with reporters.

CBA negotiations continue

Goodell said the NFL and the NFL Players Association have had two formal negotiating sessions in advance of the 2020 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. He offered no timetable of a potential deal.

“I do hope it’s sooner rather than later,” Goodell said. “I think there’s great value to all parties, all most importantly our fans, that we get this issue resolved and move forward. But there are important issues to be addressed and we’re doing that.”

TV adjustments ahead

NFL Network president Brian Rolapp said that the league would have a one-year trial run in which viewers in most television markets would have up to three NFL games broadcast in their respective markets on Sundays.

TV schedule changes

NFL Network president Brian Rolapp said Wednesday that the start times for Sunday games in the divisional playoffs will move to 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The previous start times were 1 p.m. and 4:40 p.m.

Rolapp also said there will be four commercial breaks per quarter in the Super Bowl, down from five.

Cleveland, Kansas City to hold future drafts

The NFL announced that the 2021 draft will be held in Cleveland and the 2023 draft will be hosted by Kansas City. The 2020 draft is set for Las Vegas.

The NFL kept 2022 open for bidding, and as many as 20 cities have already expressed interest, according to Matt Shapiro of the NFL events department. That number could even grow by the summer.

Since deciding to move the draft from New York, the cities of Chicago (twice), Philadelphia, Dallas and Nashville have hosted the draft.

Combine to continue in Indianapolis 

The NFL’s Scouting Combine has been extended through 2021 in Indianapolis, with a series of one-year options to follow. Also, player drills will he shifted to afternoon and prime time on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to attract a wider TV audience.

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