Ryan O’Callaghan is one of many ex-NFL players who experienced multiple serious injuries throughout the course of their career. Now he claims marijuana is a “godsend,” in dealing with the lingering pain, but at the time O’Callaghan was handed painkillers to manage his pain. The only problem: His injuries weren’t the only pain O’Callaghan was struggling with.
He revealed to OutSports in June that he used football to hide something he was personally ashamed of: O’Callaghan is gay. As a tough offensive lineman playing in the NFL, he figured no one would question him. But that emotional pain of harboring his identity made O’Callaghan make plans to commit suicide following his playing career because “he had decided many years ago that he would never—could never—live life as an openly gay man,” as OutSports wrote.
“I was abusing painkillers, no question,” O’Callaghan told OutSports. “It helped with the pain of the injuries, and with the pain of being gay. I just didn’t worry about being gay when I took the Vicodin. I just didn’t worry.”
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The Kansas City Chiefs organization convinced O’Callaghan not to commit suicide. His NFL career eventually ended in 2010, but O’Callaghan says he uses marijuana to manage the physical injuries he acquired playing football. He also says the NFL should change their policy regarding allowing players to use marijuana.
“For people like me, marijuana is a godsend because you don’t want to take these pills,” O’Callaghan told USAToday. “Marijuana is not addicting. People who say that have never smoked it. I have an addictive personality. It’s not addictive.”
For decades access to marijuana for NFL players has been extremely off-limits, resulting in player fines and suspensions. But the league might be softening its stance. The NFL and Players’ Union are looking to research how cannabis can treat athlete’s pain. In addition, the league’s chief medical officer came out in support, saying it’s “really important” the league study cannabis.
“They know it’s harmless, and it’s not performance enhancing. I’ve known guys who’ve played stoned. Absolutely,” O’Callaghan said, regarding the NFL’s stance on cannabis. “The NFL can be stressful and there’s not a lot you can do. Smoking a joint’s pretty harmless. It really is. Don’t tell the Attorney General that, but it’s very harmless.’’