DENVER -- Former Broncos players are opening up about their fight for the NFL to allow players to use medical marijuana to alleviate and even prevent injuries.
“There was a handful of times where I was knocked out on the field,” former quarterback Jake Plummer said.
After 10 years in the NFL, Plummer said he feels the weight of the game.
"Just have really bad headaches, inflammation in my wrist and shoulders, low back pain when I'd sit for too long. ... A year ago I was thinking I might have played too long,” Plummer said.
And he's definitely not alone. Former Broncos receiver Charlie Adams has seven surgeries to show for his years in the league.
“I played in an NFL when they didn't have all these protocols and fail-safes to get you out of the game and protect you,” Adams said.
Speaking on a panel Tuesday at the Hemp Industry Association’s Conference, both say they use some form of medical marijuana or nonpsychoactive cannabidiol to manage their pains.
“I feel more spry. I feel younger. I feel more alert, conscious about what's going on around me. Anger, moments where I'd get angry are far and few between,” Plummer told the room full of people.
“When I got on this, the swelling and the pain went away,” Adams said of his use of medical marijuana.
They are only two of many former players questioning the league's protection of its players and its stance on the use of cannabis.
“The NFL, if they are doing everything they can, if they're moving the kickoff line up and back, if they are kicking guys out of games for helmet hits, why aren't they exploring this with the gusto they should be,” Adams said.
“How sad is that to be a bad ass NFL player and then when you're 50 all your friends come out to talk about what a bad ass you were, instead of being alive and living, which you easily could do with some healthy options, which they don't have right now. There's not a healthy option for these players,” Plummer said.
Plummer is a spokesman for The Realm of Caring Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Colorado Springs that recently launched "When the Bright Lights Fade," a campaign to raise funds for a series of studies exploring how the use of cannabinoids, specifically cannabidiol, can help treat and prevent the onset of symptoms associated with CTE and traumatic brain injury.
According to the nonprofit, a recent study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University shows 96 percent of former NFL players suffer from the neurodegenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
CTE is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia.
Plummer said the NHL is the only professional sports league to not include cannabis on its list of banned substances.
He said the NFL and players' union have taken their calls, but for now the fight continues.