Justin Staples was undrafted in 2013 coming out of the University of Illinois. Yet, the linebacker succeeded in playing for the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans over a four year span before finally being released by the Titans in 2017.
Today, Staples is beginning a new journey off the football field, but concerning another type of field — that which is responsible for growing and distributing cannabis.
Illinois-based Revolution Enterprises has hired Staples to serve as its Director of Business Development and play a role in expanding Revolution to new states while advocating and educating about the potential benefits of cannabis, particularly in the athletic community.
Staples’ pivot to a pot-based company comes at a pivotal time. The NFL and NFL Players Association are in the midst of studying the use of marijuana for pain management by players, and just recently former tight end Martellus Bennett disclosed his belief that roughly 89% of the league is using marijuana despite rules against such use.
“There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” said Bennett to USA TODAY Sports in April. “You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”
Another former NFL player, Marvin Washington, posits that the NFL’s position on marijuana use will change when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2020.
“It can’t be changed before then but the more states that make it legal, Canada is about to go legal, Mexico is about to go legal, it’s putting a lot of pressure on the United States,” says Washington.
Many current players are afraid to speak up about the prevalence of marijuana use for fear of retribution by the league, which explains why it takes former players to disclose what many are not surprised to hear — a great number of active NFL players either smoke or ingest THC even though the drug policy prevents such use. That said, there is a growing concern that popping pills to alleviate pain is much worse than using cannabis to reach a similar end.
“I’m joining the Revolution Team at a true industry inflection point because my values align with Revolution’s success in providing Illinois patients cannabis medicine as an alternative to addictive opioids,” says Staples. “Together we can build upon Revolution’s momentum to increase the spectrum of health and wellness options available to patients in all legal cannabis states across America and enhance the quality of life for athletes, veterans and other consumers alike.”