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Jim McMahon: NFL is ‘in cahoots with big pharma’ for painkillers

“They want you taking their pills,” McMahon said of the NFL. 
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Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon spoke with Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gray about the NFL’s handling of player injuries, criticizing the league’s reliance on painkillers instead of alternative substances like marijuana.

McMahon hypothesized that the NFL is “in cahoots with big pharma.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that including marijuana on league’s list of banned substances is in the interest of players, but McMahon told SI Now he adamantly disagrees. He argues that the league wants to make sure players are taking painkillers.

“They want you taking their pills,” McMahon told SI Now. “I think they’re in cahoots with big pharma. My whole career they were pushing pills on me. For whatever aliment you had, they had a pill for it and that’s the reason they’re demonizing this plant they way they are.”

McMahon added that he thinks marijuana is the safer option for players.

“This stuff is so much better for you, there’s no side effects, it doesn’t kill anybody, there’s no documented cases of people dying, but there’s hundreds of thousands of people dying every year from these pills,” he told SI Now. 

McMahon said he was still on pain killers for about five years after his NFL career ended, but the only thing that really helped him deal with the symptoms from his football-related injuries was marijuana.

McMahon spent 15 seasons in the NFL, including the first seven of his career in Chicago, where he helped lead the 1985 Bears to a Super Bowl XX title. The quarterback sustained numerous injuries during his career and has been outspoken about his struggles with the effects of head trauma.