Ex-Super Bowl Champ Jim McMahon: Marijuana Helped Me Overcome Painkiller Dependency

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(Photo: Getty Images)

In his 15 years in the NFL, former quarterback Jim McMahon played a full 16-game season exactly zero times.

Injuries, including several concussions, plagued the career of the quarterback that won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears in 1985.

Now an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary covering that team will focus a portion of its attention to McMahon's health struggles since his playing days ended.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

He has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and has severe headaches, depression, memory loss, and vision and speech problems. He also said he suffered a broken neck.

As a result, he joined a pending class-action lawsuit accusing the NFL of negligence and misconduct in handling concussions.

Before 2010, McMahon says he'd been taking 100 Percocet pills every month for shoulder, neck, and arm pain.

"They were doing more harm than good," he said.

But that year, medicinal marijuana was approved in Arizona, where McMahon lives. Now the quarterback says marijuana has helped him overcome his dependency on painkillers.

"It helps me every day. I use it every day, and it gets me through the day," McMahon told the paper. "And I feel heck of a lot better than I did when I used to have to take all those pain pills."

He smokes about three times a day.

On a typical day, McMahon will smoke marijuana in the morning to help him get up, a little in the afternoon depending on how he feels, and before bed, saying he couldn't sleep without it.

His comments come just as the governor of his former team's home state, Bruce Rauner of Illinois, considers approving eight more medical conditions to add to the list that qualify for medicinal marijuana, including pain uncured by conventional treatment.

"Medicinal marijuana has been a godsend for me," McMahon said. "I mean with my chronic pain, all my surgeries that I've had, I've got the arthritis. It's getting me through the day. And I would hope the governor would get on board with his, It's helped so many people."

Despite a number of former players with similar stories advocating the NFL to allow medicinal marijuana use, the league still has a ban on marijuana and continues to test for it.