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Ryan Clark: NFL players need pot to relieve pain, manage stress

Ryan Clark (George Gojkovich/Getty Images) Ryan Clark, a 12-year NFL veteran, won Super Bowl XLIII with the Steelers. (George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Pro Bowl safety and ESPN analyst Ryan Clark said some NFL players, including Steelers teammates, smoke marijuana as a way to relieve pain and manage stress.

"I know guys on my team who smoke," Clark said on ESPN's "First Take" on Thursday. "And it's not a situation where you think, 'Oh, these are guys trying to be cool.' These are guys who want to do it recreationally.

"A lot of it is stress relief. A lot of it is pain and medication. Guys feel like, 'If I can do this, it keeps me away from maybe Vicodin, it keeps me away from pain prescription drugs and things that guys get addicted to.' Guys look at this as a more natural way to heal themselves, to stress relieve and also to medicate themselves for pain. Guys are still going to do it."

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Clark also agreed with Antonio Cromartie's assertion that the league should scrap marijuana testing because the players are going to smoke it regardless.

"It's 100 percent true. They're fighting a losing battle. The testing isn't stringent," Clark said. "There is one random test during OTAs and minicamps during the offseason, and everybody will be tested early in training camp. After that, there are no more tests. So guys understand the ways to get around failing a drug test."
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