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Ricky Williams glad to see NFL study marijuana as a pain-management tool

Chris Simms discusses how Ricky Williams' NFL career could have been different if the league had different policies around marijuana.

David Irving wants credit for the NFL’s marijuana study. Irving doesn’t deserve any credit, but maybe Ricky Williams does.

The NFL has eased its marijuana policy since Williams played, but the league still bans it even if a player is using it under the supervision of a doctor and even in states where it is legal. But the NFL and NFLPA announced in May that they have formed a committee that will study marijuana as a pain-management tool.

The sides surely will include the issue in CBA talks.

Williams, 42, long has advocated the use of marijuana and has gone in the marijuana business with a line of cannabis-based products called “Real Wellness by Ricky Williams.” He was asked if the NFL finally is catching up.

“Most of the time I’m up here, I’m asked a question about marijuana,” Williams said Saturday at SportsCon 2019 in Dallas. “Any big corporation kind of has to be behind the times. It’s public opinion, and I think public opinion has started to shift that the NFL is obviously talking about it in the public. I just think our whole country has come a long way in the past 15 years. The fact that before I was shunned and considered a pariah, and now ESPN invites me to talk about cannabis on television. We’re moving forward, and I think the NFL is eventually going to catch up.”

Williams missed an entire season, retiring in the face of a $650,000 fine and four-game suspension for his marijuana use. He returned but missed another full season due to a year-long suspension for another violation of the substance abuse policy.

Cowboys defensive Randy Gregory is serving an indefinite suspension now after missing 30 games for violating the substance abuse policy, but his latest suspension might not cost him any games. The NFL suspended him in February. He will apply for reinstatement Monday.

While Williams faced public ridicule at times for his unorthodox training methods and marijuana use, no one is laughing now.