By Chris Burke
January 27, 2014

Pete Carroll believes the NFL should follow in the footsteps of the medical world, regardless of stigma. Pete Carroll believes the NFL should follow in the footsteps of the medical world, regardless of stigma. (Elsa/Getty Images)

JERSEY CITY -- Super Bowl week has only just begun, but already it's clear what one talking point may be: marijuana usage in the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell caught most people off-guard last week when he said that the league would look into the effects of marijuana should its medical experts deem the drug helpful in treating head injuries. Those comments came shortly after former Denver Broncos receiver Nate Jackson said on HBO's Real Sports that he had smoked pot during his playing career.

“For me, personally, [marijuana as a painkilling alternative is] very viable," Jackson said, according to Awful Announcing. "I prefer it. Marijuana was something that helped me, as the season wore on my body would start to break down. I was in a lot of pain."

Seattle coach Pete Carroll and multiple Broncos players were asked about the topic during Monday's limited media availability. And Carroll, for one, supports a deeper dive into the research.

"I would say that we have to explore and find ways to make our game a better game and take care of our players in whatever way possible," Carroll said. "Regardless of what other stigmas might be involved, we have to do this because the world of medicine is doing this."

Denver's Terrance Knighton, meanwhile, admitted that he was unaware of Goodell's comments -- "Well that’s news to me. ... I don’t really get caught up in the whole marijuana thing." -- but cautioned against the NFL opening those doors.

"I think with something like that, it may be helpful, but it is also something that can be abused," Knighton said. "So I think that’s why it’s banned and that’s why it’s on the list, because it can be abused and it can backfire. It’s a touchy subject, but whatever is best, they’ll figure it out."

That the Super Bowl XLVIII teams happen to come from the two states (Denver and Washington) where recreational marijuana is now legal certainly will fuel the discussion in the coming days. Carroll's Seahawks lost multiple players to suspensions reportedly brought on by marijuana use this season, too -- Walter Thurmond was hit with a four-game penalty, while Brandon Browner was banned for at least a year.

Goodell did not offer any specifics regarding how medicinal marijuana might be utilized within the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.

"I know right now they are trying to do whatever they can to help players post-career and they’re looking into everything," Knighton said. "But it’s illegal right now and it’s something against the rules, so I stay away from that."

MCCANN: The Merits of the NFL Allowing Marijuana as a Pain Killer

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