Could CBD End the Opioid Crisis in Sports? Extend Athlete Careers?
Kyle Turley estimates that he experienced upwards of one hundred concussions – along with dozens of other injuries – during his nine-year NFL career. Like many players, the hulking offensive lineman used a variety of pharmaceuticals to mask the pain; buying as many as five thousand Vicodin in a single transaction.
So, when the news broke that Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had passed away in his sleep at the age of 27, Turley said he knew immediately that opioids were to blame. “[Skaggs] was a veteran player. He had an injury. He’s on the road and scheduled to start the next day. I know exactly what comes with that [situation], especially if [the player] is dealing with team doctors; it comes with a muscle relaxer, a pain killer and a sleep aid.” Sadly, the former pro-bowler had seen the story play out before. He said, “the things that killed Tyler were the things that killed my friends Norman Hand, Kevin Mitchell and Pio Sagapolutele.”
Opioids are being abused in locker-rooms across the sports landscape. Turley says all one needs to do is look at “story after story” of team officials supplying players with prescription pain medications to realize there is a problem.
Howie Long-Short: When the former Saints, Rams and Chiefs tackle retired from the NFL in 2007, he left the game with a collective of physical and neurological ailments so severe that he was unable to hold his hands steady, speak properly or conduct a television interview without sunglasses and a hat on (to shield him from the camera lights). He said, “I was constantly experiencing vertigo, I had migraine headaches that were off the charts, seizures and I was hospitalized multiple times.” A regimen of pills developed over two decades playing the game (starting as a high school senior) would get him through the day.
But Turley says all of that changed in 2014 when he discovered the science behind the human cannabinoid system and put himself on a “cannabis regimen free of pharmaceuticals”; a lifestyle change he credits with improving both his mental health and physical well-being. The symptoms he suffered from have since dissipated – he says he hasn’t experienced a single episode of vertigo since – and “according to the NFL’s own concussion testing, [he’s] seen an improvement in cognitive ability.”
The former football star is now on mission to convince other athletes – he currently works with several active NFL players – to leave addictive pharmaceuticals behind and to educate themselves about the healing benefits of CBD. “CBD works because it matches our genetic profile. There’s a cannabinoid system in the center of the brain that regulates everything from pain management to neurological issues.”
Turley says CBD isn’t just a safe way to treat pain, but a way to extend players’ careers. “If I had [medicinal] cannabis available to me from the beginning of my football career, there’s no doubt I would still be playing football right now at 44 years old.”
Back in ’15, Turley founded Neuro XPF (stands for extreme, performance, feel). The company that has sold nearly $10 million worth of product since.
Fan Marino: If CBD can extend careers one would assume that the NFL would support its usage, but all indications are that the players will have to make concessions if they want marijuana removed from the list of banned substances during the next round of CBA negotiations. Turley says that “it’s a shame a league with so much influence over society doesn’t take a more proactive approach towards adopting the one thing that has been patented as a neuro-protectant. With concussions and CTE being such a big issue it’s egregious and appalling that the players would have to give up anything. The NFL should be leading this [movement], not Kyle Turley.”
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