Former New York Giants running-back-turned-entrepreneur Tiki Barber says despite the NFL’s tough policies surrounding marijuana use, back when he played the game the league's tests were easy to beat.
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“We always used to call it like the ‘dummy test’ because you know when the test is going to happen so just be clean and as long as you’re not in the program you can probably get away with it even if they technically know that it’s happening,” Barber told FOX Business.
Barber, who has worn many different hats since retiring from the NFL in 2007, has since launched an investment firm that plans to back young marijuana and cannabis startups in an effort to help them navigate through unfolding legal regulations.
New York Giants #21 running back Tiki Barber scoring his first touchdown of the 2006 season during the Houston Texans vs New York Giants game on November 5, 2006 at Giants Stadium . .The Giants won 14-10. (Photo by Tom Berg/NFLPhotoLibrary)
The company called Grove Group Management launched last year with his business partner Kevin Shin and has already signed on many small business owners.
“It’s simply a business opportunity,” Barber added. “We wanted to put a group together that could attack this cannabis space in an intelligent way that makes sense for not only the business opportunity but also for minority communities and create a message of social progress.”
The 43-year-old former athlete, who admits he is not a marijuana user but does dabble with CBD-infused products for pain management says change is needed surrounding the legalization of marijuana in both the NFL and across the country to help fight the opioid crisis.
Recently, many big companies, including pharmacies CVS and Walgreens have announced their plans to start selling CBD-infused products in select locations across the country. CBD products, or products with cannabidiol, contain the non-psychoactive component of marijuana. Walgreens told FOX Business that the move into the cannabis space is an effort to provide a wider range of "accessible health and wellbeing products and services" to best meet the needs of its customers, while CVS CEO Larry Merlo told CNBC they were prompted by its customers, who say CBD products have helped them with pain relief for arthritis and other ailments.
“We've seen the punitive nature with which the NFL attacks users of cannabis and I believe a lot of these guys are just self-medicating. They don't want to be caught in the opioid addiction crisis that has affected a lot of former players because of the constant damage to your knees and your joints and that’s not even to mentioning the head trauma,” he said. He also added that contrary to popular belief, he believes only 20 to 30 percent of NFL athletes actually use marijuana.
Still, the league's current policies have been very detrimental to the careers of a lot of great players, including Josh Gordon of the New England Patriots, Martavis Bryant from the Oakland Raiders and most recently Randy Gregory, who just got a year suspension from the Dallas Cowboys.
“It’s an evolving conversation with the league and I’m sure come 2020 or 2021 with a new collective bargaining agreement going to be negotiated, it's going to be a talking point. Guys are tired of managing their pain with things that are going to destroy their livers and make their lives down the line very untenable in some ways," Barber said.
A spokesperson for the NFL did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment, while the league's Players Association declined to comment on the report.