Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long said this week he used marijuana regularly throughout his NFL career and that he hopes the league will move toward allowing players to use the drug, particularly for pain management.
Long, who played for the Patriots in the 2016 season and announced his retirement from the NFL last week, said in an interview Wednesday on The Dan Patrick Show that he’s never been afraid to admit that he used marijuana, but he can say it more explicitly now that he’s retired.
He said without it, he wouldn’t be “capable of coping with the stresses of day-to-day NFL life.”
“It’s far less dangerous than guzzling a fifth of alcohol and going out after a game,” the 34-year-old said. “Chances are, the player won’t even make it to the club to do this sort of thing that we all kind of wag our finger at when we hear about a guy getting in a fight or a DUI. You’re never gonna read about him sitting on the couch and binge watching ‘Game of Thrones’ again.”
Asked about drug tests, Long said the once-a-year drug tests done by the league are arbitrary, and because of their infrequency, many players are able to stop using marijuana shortly before the test — and then resume once the drug test is complete.
The NFL’s policy on drug testing states that the tests are technically random, though the test for substances of abuse — including marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, and PCP — is only done once a year between April 20 and Aug. 9, and most of those tests are done specifically at the start of training camp. Once a player passes the test, they won’t be tested again until the following year.
“The league, speaking plainly, knows damn well what they’re doing,” he said. “Testing players once a year for street drugs, which is a terrible classification for marijuana, is kind of silly because players know when the test is. We can stop. And then that month or two that you stop, you’re going to reach for the sleeping pills, you’re going to reach for the painkillers, you’re going to reach for the bottle a little bit more.”
Long continued: “If you’re serious about players not smoking, you’d be testing more often. I hope they go the opposite direction and just kind of realize how arbitrary doing that one test a year is.”
Long’s comments come just days after the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced they would put together a committee of medical experts to do research on alternative methods for pain management, including the use of marijuana for players.
Long is the son of Howie Long, an NFL Hall of Famer, FOX NFL analyst, and Charlestown native.
After starring at Virginia, Long was the second overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft, selected by the Rams, who were based in St. Louis at the time. After playing eight seasons without ever reaching the playoffs, he signed with the Patriots for the 2016 season. He appeared in every game that season, as well as all three playoff games to earn a Super Bowl ring after the Patriots rallied to defeat the Falcons, 34-28, in Super Bowl LI.
He then signed a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles and got another Super Bowl title when Philadelphia defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
He announced his retirement last week, after playing 11 seasons in the NFL.
Watch Long’s interview from The Dan Patrick Show here: