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Former New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams saw his career in the NFL get frequently derailed by his affinity for weed.
Garnering a reputation as the face of cannabis in the NFL, with a slight stigma still attached, Williams has long argued that cannabis continues to help aid the retired player against physical and psychological hurdles, such as dealing with anxiety.
Williams spoke with Fox News Digital‘s Ryan Gaydos to deliver an update on his toking times while in the NFL and his lasting thoughts on cannabis, roughly two decades since his glory days in the pros.
“I guess I noticed after I failed a drug test in 2002 and the NFL said, ‘OK, now you’re going to be drug tested 10 times a month,'” Williams recalled. “So, obviously, I stopped smoking. I thought at the time it was no big deal. But when I stopped smoking, I noticed that I was taking more pain pills and I noticed that I was more anxious.”
He added, “So, I started to continue to smoke just a little bit just to see if there was a difference. And, in that situation, I noticed there was a big difference — that I recovered faster, things didn’t bother me as much and it reflected in my performance.”
The NFL’s keen eye on Williams’ smoking habits kept the player’s status in question throughout his career. As the League starts to loosen up on its view against cannabis, Williams hopes that cannabis will help other players avoid turning to opioids during injury, which he stated was often a personal challenge.
“I was taking more painkillers because I was more aware of the pain that I was in. Back in 2002, especially outside of California, there was nobody really talking about medicinal marijuana,” Williams said. “Especially in the NFL, most of the conversation about cannabis was, ‘Don’t do it because it’s a drug and you’ll get in trouble.’ I started using cannabis mainly because other football players on my team were using it and suggesting I use it. So it was more like peer pressure and fitting in.”
Williams reached his first and only Pro Bowl nod in 2002 after rushing for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns. He added 363 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. Though his playing days are over, Williams remains firmly on the side of Team Green.
“It’s not what people say, because when I consume cannabis, I wasn’t sitting on the couch,” he added. “I wasn’t being lazy. I was reading and reflecting and doing like self-psychology and working on myself. When I retired from the NFL in 2004 and was free from those confines, I started to travel and have conversations and read and realized, ‘Oh, they lied to us about this.’”
Read the full interview here.