As the 2018 NFL season comes to an end, we approach the holy grail of the sport, the Super Bowl. The 53rd installment of the “most expensive ticket in town” will feature the Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots, on February 3, 2019 in the beautiful home of the Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Whether you’re tuning in for the commercials, the half-time show or the actual game, you should be in for a treat.

After the Super Bowl, the offseason begins, and for the players who have been piling up the injuries all season long, the off-season proves itself to be the time for recovery, getting the body ready to do it all over again come September. With all of those injuries come an immense amount of pain, so what’s a player to do if they don’t want to take prescription pills? What is their alternative? Can a player, looking to combat their pain, use marijuana?

As the United States moves forward with their drug laws, and specifically marijuana, we are beginning to see a change in the landscape. There are currently 10 states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, while 33 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana in varying forms.

The NFL and Marijuana

Every NFL team resides in a city that has legalized marijuana in some capacity at the state level. However, according to the Controlled Substance Act, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug and is federally illegal. Effectively, the NFL is saying that their “workers”, the players, are unable to participate in a state legal activity, no matter the reason, due to their stringent drug policies.

The NFL, through their collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), specifically states that, “the illegal use of drugs and the abuse of prescriptions drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and alcohol is prohibited for players in the NFL. Players will be tested for drugs coinciding with the NFL Drug Panel including, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamine, opiates, opioids, PCP, MDMA and alcohol.”

All players who are under contract with an NFL Club will be tested once during the period, beginning on April 20, continuing through August 9. Based on the results, they are either free to go about their business, not being tested again until the following season or, upon a failed test, are placed into the NFL intervention program. Through the intervention program, a player who tests positive for a drug on the NFL’s banned substance list will undergo testing at a frequency so determined by either the Medical Advisor or Medical Director. If while in the intervention program a player again has a failed test, they will be subject to stage two or three of the program, whichever is applicable. A player who enters into stage two will be subject to unannounced testing at the sole discretion of the Medical Advisor. If, while in stage two, a player again tests positive for a drug on the NFL drug panel, they will enter into stage three of the treatment program and again undergo unannounced testing at the sole discretion of the Medial Advisor. While in stage two or three a player who is being tested may not be tested more than ten (10) times in a calendar month. A player who tests positive in stage three of the intervention program will banished from the NFL for a minimum period of one (1) calendar year.

A player who has tested positive will be subject to a fine or suspension dependent upon the number of positive tests. The fines come in the form of 11.76, 17.6 or 23.5 percent of the player’s annual salary (two, three, or four game checks); and suspensions can be four, six or ten games, unpaid. The strongest of disciplinary actions for repeat offenders will be either an unpaid, one-year suspension from the league or an indefinite ban subject to a formal proceeding and a necessary reinstatement into the league.

The NFL Players and Marijuana Use

Many players have faced fines or suspensions due to their use of marijuana, no matter the purpose of their consumption. In 2018, the NFL levied almost $4,000,000 in fines related to substance abuse.

Josh Gordon, a former New England Patriots wide receiver, has a well-documented substance abuse problem. Unfortunately for him, his marijuana use has occurred before a reform in the NFL drug policy, which is likely to occur when the CBA is renegotiated in 2020. Martavis Bryant, faces the same problem, consistently running into problems with marijuana and how the NFL CBA and Drug Policy treat the use of the plant.  Although these players are in violation of the current NFL CBA there are many players who would benefit from a change in the policies.

Seantrel Henderson is one such player. Henderson, who played the 2018 season with the Houston Texans, was diagnosed in 2015 with Crohn’s disease. Doctors recommended that Henderson use marijuana to treat the pain as an alternative to prescription pills: Henderson said that he hoped the NFL would understand that he was a human, “I’ve got doctors telling me this is the No. 1 medicine that would help your disease,” Henderson said, “You try to tell that to the league and it seems like they didn’t care too much.” Ultimately, doctors removed roughly 2 ½ feet of Henderson’s large and small intestines. During recovery, his doctors again recommended marijuana as the source of pain relief instead of prescription pills and Henderson took their advice. Henderson notes that he thought his playing career was over due do the surgery so he used marijuana for the pain, “At the time, I thought I was done playing,” Henderson said. “I didn’t think I was coming back. At the time, I was using that for pain” Henderson was initially suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for his marijuana use. He was then drug tested regularly in accordance with the league drug policy which he was found to be in violation of again shortly after his first suspension, resulting in a 10-game suspension. All in all, Henderson was suspended 14 games during the 2016 season and fined $523,580 for following his doctor’s recommendations.

Former Super Bowl champion quarterback Jim McMahon has been outspoken in his support for a change in the NFL’s drug policy relating to marijuana. McMahon, who played for the Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers throughout his 15-year NFL career, has dealt with numerous injuries during his time in the NFL and has noted how marijuana could have helped him through all of them. He suffered numerous concussions as a player, and currently battles early onset dementia, severe headaches, depression, vision and speech problems. He was taking almost 100 Percocet a month to manage the pain he was suffering from until he began the use of medical marijuana, “They were doing more harm than good,” he said. “This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain.” McMahon is a prime example of how the rigors of the NFL can affect a person for years after they hang-up their cleats and how the use of medical marijuana can help them get through that pain.

Impact in the State of Nevada

Nevada is at the forefront of the legalization train having had medical marijuana legalized since the year 2000 and recreational marijuana since 2017. The NFL has shown quite a bit of love to the state of Nevada in recent months, specifically to the City of Las Vegas. Las Vegas is in the headlines related to their new titles as, the “Future Home the Raiders” and “Home of the 2020 NFL Draft”. The Raiders coming to Las Vegas is big news for the city. The love affair with the NHL’s Golden Knights has been a sight to see, and the Raiders are building the same type of excitement.

With the excitement comes many questions, will a player in the NFL be able to consume marijuana like a resident or tourist or, are they barred by the CBA of the NFL. After a bit of investigating and understanding of the facts mentioned above the answer at the moment is no. There is no built-in exception to the NFL’s CBA that has anything to do with marijuana consumption in legal states, or the use of marijuana as a medical alternative. The NFL simply says no. Players cannot use and they will be fined and suspended accordingly.

Through continuing education coinciding with the end of the current CBA and the negotiation of a new CBA, it is possible that we will see the NFL move away from their archaic policy, align with the progressive States, and implement a system that allows their players to consume marijuana instead of opioids. This stance could be in motion sooner than we think, as more information becomes readily available to both the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). In regards to marijuana and the NFL’s stance, Brian McCarthy, the spokesman for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, recently stated “This is an area of research we are looking to develop further, along with the NFLPA…to determine whether those substances could be used as an effective and safe pain-management tool for players.”

The NFL is a huge part of the sports and entertainment world and the current and future health of their players is paramount to its continued success. Conversations discussing how to better manage the pain that this contact sport causes will bode well to seeing that success come to fruition.

 

CITATIONS

  1. NFL POLICY AND PROGRAM ON SUBSTANCES OF ABUSE, https://nflpaweb.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/PDFs/Agents/2016SOAPolicy_v2.pdf
  2. NFL POLICY AND PROGRAM ON SUBSTANCES OF ABUSE, https://nflpaweb.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/PDFs/Agents/2016SOAPolicy_v2.pdf
  3. SPOTRAC, https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/fines-suspensions/
  4. HOUSTON CHRONICLE, https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/texans/article/Seantrel-Henderson-gets-fresh-start-with-Texans-13132409.php
  5. ESPN, http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/18147079/seantrel-henderson-buffalo-bills-faces-10-game-suspension-substance-abuse-violation
  6. HOUSTON CHRONICLE, https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/texans/article/Seantrel-Henderson-gets-fresh-start-with-Texans-13132409.php
  7. SPOTRAC, https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/houston-texans/seantrel-henderson-14648/fines/
  8. DENVER POST, https://www.denverpost.com/2016/03/03/mike-ditka-knew-his-chicago-bears-players-got-high-says-jim-mcmahon/
  9. CHICAGO TRIBUNE, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-bears-jim-mcmahon-medical-marijuana-met-20160128-story.html
  10. BLEACHER REPORT, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2771410-the-worlds-best-athletes-smoke-weed-heres-proof-what-now
 

While working in the legal field is definitely rewarding, sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in your work – so much so that you may neglect healthy eating habits. Today on the blog, we have a special guest sharing some tips on how to eat healthier without all the extra work. This blog was written by Jack Harris, a professional chef based in New York.

I’ve found that doing a little planning ahead can be very beneficial when trying to stay healthy and save money.

In the hot summer months, I like to keep the food I eat generally pretty light and, most of the time, cold. This is a big benefit of planning ahead and keeping cooking to a minimum. The less work you have to do to make a delicious and healthy meal is always better. I’ll give you my favorite three ways to do it.

bowl of grilled meats and vegetables1 ) Precooked Foods

Keep precooked foods in the fridge, ready to go.

A few hours of planning and cooking can keep your fridge full of options.

What to keep in the fridge:

  • Cooked grains and legumes: farro, barley, lentils, chickpeas, etc. Pasta gets mushy when cooked and stored in the fridge, so stick to grains and legumes. These can also be marinated ahead of time. They will generally last up to a week, and a few more days if marinated.
  • Proteins: poached shrimp and fish, roasted chicken and steak, hard or soft boiled eggs, smoked or cured salmon or anchovies.
  • Dressings and salsas: Salsa verde (chopped fresh herbs and shallots with olive oil and S&P), aioli, and vinaigrettes.
  • Raw and cooked vegetables: roasted baby carrots, blanched green vegetables (peas, asparagus, pole beans), roasted corn, shaved fennel, etc.

Having these ingredients at your disposal will make for a quick, easy, and creative meal.

Starting with your grain, maybe farro, that’s been marinated with shaved raw fennel, lemon juice and olive oil, you can add chopped roasted vegetables and mix with salsa verde and top with some poached shrimp.

Take cooked pinto beans and mix with shredded chicken, blanched peas, and avocado. Toss in a little alioli and lime juice, top with cilantro and chopped white onion, and you have a Southwest bean bowl.

One of my personal favorites is to take leftover steak, and slice over a big arugula salad with some crumbled feta, fresh tomatoes, pickled onions, and lentils. Mix with a shallot vinaigrette made from chopped shallots, sherry vinegar (or whatever vinegar you’d like), olive oil, a little honey, salt and cracked black pepper.

2) Grilled Meats and Vegetables

grilled meats and vegetablesIf you have a grill, which I assume most people in the desert do, I love to make quick and easy tacos with grilled meats and vegetables.

Making salsas ahead of time can make lunch or dinner super easy, quick, and clean. All you need is a protein, or a couple proteins, like skirt steak and a big piece of swordfish, corn or flour tortillas (corn is better ), and some fresh veggies.

You can cook everything on the grill, and while your meat or fish is resting, heat up your tortillas. Slice your meat and fish and serve with salsa, cilantro, chopped onions, and warm tortillas. Serve some grilled veggies on the side, like asparagus, sliced potatoes, and/or corn on the cob.

If you like more traditional Tex mex tacos, grab some burger patties and season with taco seasoning. Grill to desired temperature, and slice. You can top with cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce, which, in my opinion, beats cooking ground beef in a pan until it’s over cooked.

Also, making a quick and easy slaw (by shredding cabbage and mixing with lime juice, olive oil, sliced jalapeño, sliced red onion, salt and pepper, and cilantro) is perfect for fish tacos, and is actually better if made hours or a day ahead of time.

If tacos aren’t you’re thing, grill some sliced potatoes and mix with salsa verde and aioli (quick warm potato salad) and serve with grilled meat or fish.

*Pro tip: Buy a small rice cooker. It keeps cooking and clean up super simple, and you can add tons of flavor to your rice. Add a few bay leaves and some butter, or use the dripping from your roasted meat mixed with water or chicken stock to add more flavor.

3) Dessert!

I’m not a sweets guy at all really, but sometimes I need a little something extra. My favorite after meal snack is definitely cold fruit. I like to stock up when I go to the grocery store (or farmers market in the summer time).

My favorite fruits to snack on: stone fruits are the best when in season (peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries), grapes, apples, pears, berries, and oranges. Try segmenting oranges ahead of time for easy snacking.  Check out this video on how to segment: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kQr9QQLtBU0.

If you need a little extra, try making fresh whipped cream. You can control the amount of sugar and it won’t have all the stabilizers and preservatives that you’ll find in canned whipped cream. It’s about as easy as anything you can do and the flavor difference is very noticeable.

The only other thing I might go after is good chocolate. Not to sound bougie or elitist, but organic, small production chocolate is my favorite. Usually not a lot of sugar, and the flavor is super complex.

I hope these tips help; they definitely keep me from eating too much junk. Although there’s nothing wrong with a good cheeseburger every once in a while, I personally like to experiment and get creative while also keeping my eating clean.

 

National Best Friends Day was on June 8th this year and some of us here at Connor & Connor celebrated by curling up with one of our furry (sometimes scaly!) best friends.

Meet the pets of our awesome team below.

Athena2Athena

Meet Athena. She is our 3-1/2 year old pit-bull lab mix. She is a giant baby that honestly believes she is a lap cat. She was raised by two cats and, at this time, I honestly believe that she thinks she is a cat, just in a bigger form! She enjoys playing outside with the kids and sleeping under the tables at the dog park.

Enzo

Enzo

Meet Enzo, a 2-½ year old Bengal. He weighs 17 pounds and is approximately 29 inches long from head to tail. Some Bengals will join their owners in the shower, as Bengals tend to love water. Our Enzo tends to put up a good fight when it comes to his bath time. One of his favorite activities consists of playing catch; Enzo will catch a small ball in between his paws. Enzo also enjoys going for “rides” around the house on rolling chairs and laundry baskets. Enzo is such a pawsome cat.

Lola

Lola

Meet Lola, a 1-year-old tabby cat who weighs 9 pounds. Lola joined my family two months ago. We rescued her from the Animal Foundation. Thus far, Lola’s favorite member of the family is my son. She will follow him wherever he goes and hangs out in whatever room he is in (my son is excited that she chose him). Lola loves to eat and she is also talkative. We are excited to have an additional furry friend join our family.

Sadie

Sadie

Sadie was born in Missouri to parents King Hershey and Chocolate Pudding, championship-winning Cocker Spaniels. When her human mom is at work, Sadie likes to work on her family genealogy and is convinced that if she traces her lineage back far enough she will discover her long lost royal heritage and reclaim her royal birthright (like Simba from the Lion King). When Sadie is not day dreaming, she loves being around humans that admire her from a distance and enjoys going to the groomers every month.

Sadie's human mom reminds her how expensive she is everyday and often asks how Sadie plans on helping out around the house. Sadie thinks helping out around the house is for peasants and finds her human mom's three-minute sneezing fits to be a great source of entertainment, like a jester. Regardless of how many times Sadie has threatened to leave her human mom for Megan Markle, Sadie's human mom loves her unconditionally and wouldn't trade her for the world!

Redford

Redford

Meet Redford, a 12-year-old, blind Pomeranian mix. Even though Redford can’t see anymore, he can still find his food bowl in two seconds flat. When he’s not eating or sleeping, Redford enjoys lounging in the sun and helping his human dad play video games.

Bentley

Bentley

Bentley is a ten-year-old black lab who has lived with Megan since he was 12 weeks old. His favorite things are ear rubs, squash, and going for walks. He hates fireworks and hot air balloons.

Keeba

Keeba

Keeba is a nine-year-old terrier mix. She came to Megan through the Albuquerque Animal Welfare foster program. After being adopted and returned, Megan decided she couldn’t give her up again. Her favorite things are playing fetch, eating, and sleeping all the way under the covers. She hates the trash truck and the Swiffer mop.

Monkey

Monkey

Monkey is an 8-year-old male Pomeranian. Monkey came to live with Melissa at 8 weeks old. He enjoys barking at birds and snuggling in the morning. His favorite foods are apples and watermelon.

Peanut

Peanut

Peanut is a 1-year-old rescued Pomeranian who came to live with the Connors this past Christmas. Peanut loves to cuddle and follows her big sister Nellie around everywhere. Peanut has a calm personality and loves her new home.

Nellie

Nellie

Nellie is an 8-year-old yellow lab. She joined the Connor family in 2009. Nellie is a graduate of Twin Lakes Kennels and is a retired duck hunting dog. These days she enjoys lots of belly rubs and taking naps.

Darkness

Darkness

Darkness is my 2-year-old female bearded dragon. She is very easy to take care of and she is also very friendly. She is bigger than my other pets, reaching out my entire forearm. An interesting fact about bearded dragons is that they are the most popular reptile to keep as a pet in the entire world.

Batman Superman

Batman Superman

Batman Superman is my seven-year-old Chilean rose haired tarantula. Batman Superman was the first pet that I ever had to myself. I think that it is one of the easiest pets to take acre of. He is pretty small, reaching the tips of my fingers. A cool fact about him is that he can go without eating for months at a time.