Former Jaguars and Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe revealed on Tuesday that he will not allow his son to play football, the game in which he made his living for seven years. That’s not altogether surprising. Where news of Monroe’s decision first appeared, on the other hand, might be a bit of a surprise.
Monroe, who recently came out as an advocate for marijuana, wrote an op-ed detailing his decision for The Cannabist, which is an unusual platform for his message to say the least. Nonetheless, the reasons why a long-time NFL player would deny his children the opportunity to play the game themselves should sound all too familiar.
It’s not necessarily the physical toll football takes on the body, but the long-lasting negative effects that result from head injuries.
“However, living with headaches that are eerily similar to my last concussion is a great reminder and gives me more than enough reason to say, ‘No, son. I cannot knowingly allow you to destroy your brain,'” Monroe writes. “This decision hurts my heart, but it is the right one until we can establish proper protections for football players’ heads.”
This has become something of a theme around in the NFL. From retirees admitting they might have rethought their decision to play were information about concussions and CTE available then, to young athletes around the league increasingly retiring earlier than we had become accustomed, it’s clear there is grave concern about the link between football and brain injuries.
As for Monroe’s choice of venue, he describes himself as being “On a mission to get the NFL to accept cannabinoids as a viable option for pain management, so perhaps that shouldn’t come as such a shock. He’s gone so far as to suggest his release from the Ravens in June might’ve been related to his advocacy.
Although whether the NFL changes its opinion on marijuana or not doesn’t seem to have anything to do with his son playing. Monroe says that until the league finds a way to reduce head injuries, that option won’t be on the table.