A marijuana advocacy group has taken up space on a 48-foot-wide billboard immediately outside the Denver Broncos' Sports Authority Field at Mile High stadium in which it urges the NFL to stop "driving players to drink" and asks the league to consider that a "safer choice is now legal (here)."
According to the the New York Daily News, the billboard was erected on Wednesday, a day before the Broncos kick off their regular season with a home against the reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project group that's responsible for the billboard, said he hopes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will explain why the league promotes "the use of alcohol among its players and fans" but won't acknowledge that a safer alternative exists in Colorado and Washington, two states that recently legalized marijuana for recreational use:
"For years, the NFL has been punishing players for using marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance widely embraced by the league. The league would never punish a player simply for having a couple beers, so why does it penalize them for using a substance that is less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violence....The NFL's harsh marijuana penalties do nothing to promote the health and safety of the players. If anything, they put players in danger by steering them toward using alcohol and away from making the safer choice to use marijuana instead. We hope Commissioner Goodell will explain why the NFL is willing to promote the use of alcohol among its players and fans, but unwilling to recognize that a safer alternative is now legal here."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said earlier this year when marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Colorado and Washington that the league's stance on the drug remains the same:
"The NFL's policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply in the same manner it has for decades. Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse program."
The billboard's timing comes in the same week that the NFLPA announced a partnership with technology firm Uber to launch a smart-phone app in September that will allow NFL players to summon a "safe, discrete" driver, an effort by the players association to cut down on the number of DUI offenders in the league. The app will be available in nearly 20 NFL cities and is something NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said is a way to treat "a public health and safety and responsibility challenge." BURKE: EJ Manuel gets the starting nod for Bills' Week 1 showdown with New England