Turning a new leaf: These former and current NFL players have their own cannabis businesses
The National Football League (NFL) is notoriously tough on the bodies of players who are able to make it into the league. It’s no wonder most of those guys end up searching for ways to improve their physical and mental well-being and manage pain.
More and more, NFL players are discovering the positive effects cannabis can provide their bodies.
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Many players are now open about their preferences for using the plant over traditionally pushed medications, like opioids and steroids. One thing all of these players have in common is a history of wear and tear on their bodies and a heavy mental load. Over and over again, players say they are advocating for the choice to use cannabis products while playing in the NFL because of its medicinal properties. And there are a few players who have gone so far as to start their own cannabis business.
Don’t believe us? Here are some notable former and current NFL players who own cannabis businesses.
Known as Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch played 12 seasons before retiring from the NFL. He played the position of running back and broke tackles like a freight train.
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A first-round draft pick, he played for the Buffalo Bills for three seasons before joining the Seattle Seahawks. He would go on to win a super bowl and earn plenty of records during his time in Seattle.
He led the league in rushing touchdowns for two of his seasons and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl five times.
He flirted with retirement in 2016, but came back to the NFL to play for the Oakland Raiders in 2017. Two seasons later he retired again. He returned one last time in 2019 to join the Seahawks in one final playoff run and then retire for good.
Marshawn is unwavering when it comes to being himself, so there is no surprise that he is so vocal about his preference for marijuana and how it can benefit players in the NFL. This led him to open one of the most popular cannabis lines of any NFL player.
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According to Marshawn, it helped him immensely in managing pain during his career.
He launched his cannabis product line, Dodi Blunts, in 2021. His company delivers blunts to dispensaries throughout the Bay Area, and a portion of the sales made by his brand goes to supporting the non-profit organization The Last Prisoner Project.
Rob Gronkowski, better known as Gronk, is a tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He started out with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, where he played nine seasons, winning four Super Bowls.
He collected an impressive amount of awards and records. For example, he is the one and only tight end to get 1,000 or more yards in the playoffs.
He retired in 2019, indicating he needed to for his mental and physical well-being, but he came back ready to play for Tom Brady and the Buccs in 2020.
Together, they set even more records, earning the title of the most post-season touchdowns between a quarterback and receiver. They also won their fifth super bowl that year.
In 2019, Gronk became vocal about the improvements to his pain management that he credited to CBD. He quickly began to advocate for other players to be able to use it in their healing routines.
Rob partnered with Abacus to launch a line of CBD health products during his short stint of retirement in 2019. He says it was in large part due to CBD products that he was able to recover and return to the game of football.
Calvin Johnson is a hall-of-fame wide receiver who played all of his career with the Detroit lions. He was the second-overall draft pick in 2007, and spent nine seasons as a Lion, retiring in 2016.
Fans know him as Megatron, a nickname earned through his electric play. He broke records, like the season record for receiving yards, and most consecutive games with 10 or more receptions. During his 2012 season, he became the only NFL player to average over 120 yards per game in the super bowl era.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2021 during his first year of eligibility. He continues to hold most of the receiving records for the Lions.
Johnson has been open about needing to take Vicodin, sometimes twice a game, to get through his time in the NFL. In 2019 he went forward with plans to open a medical cannabis dispensary and research company, called Primitiv.
His brand now has farm-fresh cannabis products, an apparel line, merch, and more. They opened their first storefront location in Niles, Michigan.
He also became a board member of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association and began a partnership with Harvard University to study the effects cannabis might have on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disorder that plagues many retired football players.
During his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2021, he took the opportunity to advocate for his beliefs that plant-based medicines like cannabis can be a better alternative to the widespread use of opioids.
Atiim Kiambu Barber, or “Tiki” Barber, played ten seasons as a running back for the New York Giants. He retired from the Giants in 2006 as their all-time rushing and reception leader, never having played for another team.
He pulled in over 50 receptions for over 450 receiving yards for every season between 2000 and 2006 and still holds many of the Giant’s franchise records.
After his football career, he became a correspondent for The Today Show and published several books. He also worked as a football analyst and became a host for CBS Sports Radio.
Grove Group Management
In 2018 Tiki cofounded Grove Group Management, an investment firm that provides funding, as well as other start-up services like marketing, operations, and product development, for budding cannabis businesses.
They cater to small and minority-owned cannabis companies.