The NFL and NFLPA have created a series of policies to improve the league’s pain management practices, and address the mental health treatment of active players on every team.
The new policies and practices are initiatives NFL receiver Brandon Marshall, who has spent the past decade serving as an advocate for mental health since he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011 while playing for the Miami Dolphins, has spent years advocating for.
According to Marshall, a 13-year veteran who is 30 receptions shy of 1,000 for his career, all the changes and policies that will be implemented before training camp opens later this summer, “are a start, but not the finish line.”
“This is a call to action to take the case of our minds as serious as they do our bodies. Hopefully they don’t put the clinicians in the back of the building, next to the janitor’s closet," said Marshall, an unrestricted free agent who intends to play a 14th season in the NFL. “We talk about how life, and the game is 80 percent mental, but we don’t act like that when it comes to how players are being treated?"
In a joint statement released Monday, the two parties acknowledge they will work together to gain a better understanding of the science involved in pain management, and explore other potential treatments, which could potentially lead to marijuana being removed from the banned substance list when the next CBA deal is authored.
Past and present NFL players have complained about the league’ encouragement of opioid use, the easy distribution of pills that could create a pill-popping habit since the culture of football has been built on getting athletes numbed up enough to play through their injuries.
The team clinician must be available to players at the team facility for at least 8-12 hours per week, and must conduct mandatory mental health and educational sessions for players and coaches.
The release doesn’t state whether the clinician will act independent of the team, or report to them about a player’s issues, conditions or background.