Marijuana

'It's Done Me Wonders': Former NFL Star (and Scottsdale Dude) Jim McMahon Talks Marijuana

Jim McMahon
Jim McMahon Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sports


Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is best known for his Super Bowl heroics with the Chicago Bears in 1985. But he also played for the Arizona Cardinals during the 1994 season, and he's lived in Scottsdale for more than a decade. He's an Arizona guy now.

McMahon is the subject of an upcoming documentary, Mad Mac, which is scheduled for release later this year. It's a look at both his career as well as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the brain injury that haunts many former football players. It also comes at a time when the NFL is reconsidering its policies regarding what substances players are allowed to use to manage pain. (Players can currently be fined and suspended for positive marijuana tests.) A new league committee is doing research and conducting studies into permitting players to use alternatives to opioids, including CBD and other cannabis products.

McMahon's been doing some press lately, including an interview with the AP's Pro Football Podcast where he talked at length about his painkiller addiction, managing pain, marijuana use, and why he moved to Arizona after his career was over. Here are some of the highlights.

On NFL drug tests: "I used [marijuana] throughout my whole career. I never failed a drug test. We always knew when our test was going to be. It was when you came to training camp. ... We'd stop June 1, give ourselves 45 days to clean out, and we'd be clean for our tests. And after that, the rules were that the only thing they could bust you for was steroids. ... I've been using since 1973. Now that I know it's great for me, that's why I continue with it."


On his painkiller addiction: "I was eating at least 100 percs [Percocets] a month just to function. As a player, and after for at least 5 years. The early 2000s is the last time I took a painkiller."

On getting his Arizona card: "When I moved out here to Arizona, I got my medical marijuana license. I've been exclusively using that since, and my body feels a hell of a lot better. It's a medicinal herb. We're supposed to be using it. My mind is a lot clearer. It's done me wonders."

On the NFL's pot policy: "When a guy goes home at night and he can't sleep at night, why can't he just relax and have some cannabis and be able to sleep?"

On Arizona generally: "When I played for Arizona in 1994, I said, 'This is where I'm gonna move when I retire.' And that's where I'm at now. Moved out here about 11 years ago. Dry heat feels good on the body. I don't do humidity well, don't do cold well, so this has been a good spot."

Listen to the full interview here
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David Hudnall is editor in chief of Phoenix New Times. He previously served as editor of The Pitch in Kansas City.
Contact: David Hudnall