Pot and the NFL: Ricky Williams

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Ricky Williams (running back) played from 1999 to 2011 for the New Orleans Saints, the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens. He was suspended for the 2006 season after testing positive for cannabis four times.

I don’t regret my cannabis use during my career. Just the opposite – I’m very proud of myself, and very grateful that I was somehow able to be courageous enough to trust myself and follow my heart. I think the choices I made allowed me to play 11 years in the NFL and rush for over 10,000 yards, and then be able to walk away from the game and be healthy. I have a very active, vibrant life, and I don’t think I would’ve been able to create this life if I hadn’t left the game for a year in 2004.

I was in the middle of a personal transformation, and I was lucky enough not to resist it. I think anytime you go through a transformation in the public eye, it’s difficult. But I was smart – I left the country, and I was in a space where no one knew who I was. I got a chance to grow and get to know myself. When I came back to the States, I was a stronger person, in a better place to deal with it.

If cannabis had been legal back then, I think for sure I’d be going to the Hall of Fame – no doubt about it. Some say my numbers aren’t strong enough. But if I could have used cannabis and been allowed to be a positive person in the community and continue to play, then yeah – I think I’d definitely be in the Hall of Fame.

I understand the NFL as an entity. It’s just human nature to fight for survival. If I were them, I’d look to the National Hockey League, which doesn’t test for cannabis, and they don’t have any issues. To test the whole league just isn’t necessary.

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