Eugene Monroe

NFL rules ban its players from using marijuana. But one player is calling on the league to reconsider that policy -- and his motivations aren't recreational.

According to Eugene Monroe, the NFL creates a need for marijuana use among many of its players. "Your job automatically gives you the symptom of chronic pain," the Ravens offensive tackle tells CNN. "You're hitting each other as hard as possible every single day in practice. Your body is in pain a lot of [the] time."

Other chronic pain medications, such as opioids, present serious risks, including possible addiction. By contrast, marijuana doesn't. In that regard, it could be a safer alternative to pain medications that are currently allowed by the league.

In Past Year, Nine NFL Players Retired By 30

Patrick Willis, 30
 

Patrick Willis, 30

The 49ers linebacker retired after numerous injuries made him unable to compete at the highest level possible. At his retirement speech, Willis also expressed concern about his long-term physical health.

Maurice Jones-Drew, 29
 

Maurice Jones-Drew, 29

The star running back abruptly announced his retirement on Twitter after last season ended, saying that "All good things must come to an end." He left the game to pursue opportunities in broadcasting.

Jonathan Martin, 26
 

Jonathan Martin, 26

Better known for bringing to light a culture of bullying within the Miami Dolphins organization, Martin cited mental health and suicidal thoughts in a long Facebook post that announced his retirement. He did, however, mention that the physical risks of playing football created even more incentive to walk away.

John Carlson, 30
 

John Carlson, 30

After spending his career with the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, Carlson retired abruptly after the 2014 season. He didn't offer a reason for walking away, but Carlson's career was marred by head injuries, including three concussions in the NFL and at least two head injuries in college.

Jason Worilds, 27
 

Jason Worilds, 27

The linebacker walked away from football right when he was set to earn at least $15 million in new contract money. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Worilds left football to work for the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jake Locker, 26
 

Jake Locker, 26

Previously the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, Locker quit an injury-plagued NFL career, saying simply, "I no longer have the burning desire necessary to play the game for a living."

Chris Borland, 24
 

Chris Borland, 24

After earning a starting spot in San Francisco's defense, Borland quit after his rookie season, citing concerns about head injuries and the violence of the game.

Calvin Johnson, 30
 

Calvin Johnson, 30

Johnson has reportedly informed the Lions he will retire from the game, citing football's wear and tear on his body.

Anthony Davis, 25
 

Anthony Davis, 25

The 49ers offensive lineman had a weird exit from the NFL, saying he would eventually return but terming his hiatus a "retirement." In a statement, he wrote: "This will be a time for me to allow my Brain and Body a chance to heal."

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Recent research has advocated for greater use of marijuana as a medicinal substance, particularly for chronic pain. But during a press conference prior to the Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave no indication that the league was reconsidering its stance.

"I agree there has been changes, but not significant enough changes that our medical personnel have changed their view," Goodell said. "Until they do, then I don't expect that we will change our view."

Monroe also noted that the league could help push research forward that could lead to substance use reform, but the NFL has expressed no interest in doing so.

What's holding the NFL back? The body of research might have something to do with it. Another theory is that the NFL's resistance to marijuana is branding-related. Were the league to become the first American pro sports league to allow marijuana use among its players, it could affect the public image of the league.

And as we all know, nothing matters to the NFL more than its brand.

More NFL: Why Brock Osweiler Is Smart To Leave Denver For Houston