"I had my preferred choice of medicine. Cannabis."
Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson recently opened up about his playing time in the NFL as part of a story for Sports Illustrated, including the amount of concussions he suffered and how he chose to deal with pain during his nine-year career.
According to the three-time All Pro, opioid use was (and still is) rampant in the league but he preferred to smoke weed as a means to limit the pain. Now, he and his former teammate Robert Sims own a cannabis company, Primitive, aimed at helping other players plan for life after ball
"When I got to the league, [there] was opioid abuse," he said. "You really could go in the training room and get what you wanted. I can get Vicodin, I can get Oxy[contin]. It was too available. I used Percocet and stuff like that. And I did not like the way that made me feel. I had my preferred choice of medicine. Cannabis."
Johnson, 33, claims to have suffered at least nine concussions in his career. In speaking with Sports Illustrated, he also revealed how the Detroit Lions wanted him to change his story about a concussion he suffered during a game against the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.
He got used to concussions. “Bam, hit the ground real hard. I’m seeing stars; I can’t see straight,” he says. “But I know in a couple minutes I’m gonna be fine. Because I’ve done that plenty of times before.” In 2012 he told reporters he suffered one against the Vikings. The Lions said (and maintain) that he passed their concussion protocol, and Johnson later apologized: “I misused the terms nerve damage and concussion.” But he says now, “I knew I was concussed because I blacked out. I wasn’t seeing straight. And they wanted me to change my story.” Mostly, he says, he played through concussions because in his NFL that’s how you earn Employee of the Month.
In his nine NFL seasons, the man formerly known as Megatron earned Pro Bowl honors six times, and finished his career with 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in 135 games.