A career in sports is different than any other type of profession. It’s not merely because they lead glamorous lifestyles, or due to the fact that many of them earn seven-figure salaries to play what are basically children’s games.

One of the major challenges they face is figuring out what to do when their playing days are done. They must find another avenue for the competitive juices that pulse through their veins. For some, such as basketball legend Michael Jordan, he’s found that release in playing casino-style card games like blackjack and poker. 

When professional athletes leave the playing field, they are generally are of an age when people in a more traditional career are just getting to the point of their development where they are moving ahead in their industry and their earning power is trending upward. These athletes must find some way, something to do that will keep them engaged in their lives after the game. 

Often, they choose to pursue a career in an area of familiarity. It could by entering coaching or scouting, or as an TV analyst in their chosen sport. Others who opt to get completely out of the game tend to seek out career options in fields in which they are familiar. For NFL Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, he embraced the cannabis industry.

He first experimented with marijuana recreationally as a college student at Georgia Tech. By the conclusion of his nine-season NFL career, Johnson was employing the healing powers of cannabis to help him deal with the chronic discomfort that is part and parcel of life in the NFL. Johnson told ESPN about how his pain caused it to be a “daily drag to get up out of bed in the morning. Just really inflammation at the end of the day.”

Today, he and Rob Sims, Johnson’s teammate for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, co-own Primitiv, a cannabis-producing and manufacturing company based in Webberville, Michigan.

“Our vision is we’re trying to change the stigma around cannabis,” Sims said. “We don’t call it bud. We call it medicine.”

Helping With Pain Management

The NFL is chock full of horror stories of players losing the struggle to deal with the intense pain they suffer from in their post-career life. Many are turning to painkillers and opioids, often leading to tragic outcomes.

“What do you do when you’re done playing the game and you need painkillers and you can’t get them as easy as you could when you played?” Sims asks. “What do you do? What’s the answer for that?”

They believe they’ve developed that solution in the product that they are distributing. 

NFLer Johnson

“There are a lot of untold stories about this, and to be quite frank, a player is going to have to deal with pain either way it goes,” Sims said. “There’s a safer way. There’s an alternative that can help guys and that is safe, you know what I mean? It’s not something that guys can get all messed up on and it’s a lot to lose.”

Calvin Johnson first tried cannabis in college at Georgia Tech. Photo by John Ralston (CC by 2.0).

Johnson competed on Dancing With The Stars in 2016. It was a topical cannabis cream that enabled him to do so. Without it, he insists the pain his body was in from pushing through the intense training to learn the many dance routines wouldn’t have been possible due to his chronic football-created pain.

“I was using it every day for the dance show,” Johnson said. “I literally got through that dance show because of that. Literally.”

Johnson uses the topical cream daily on his fingers, mashed from years of catching passes. He rubs it on his joints to be able to get through 18 holes of golf. 

Seeing how the product helped him get through the ordeal of his daily life, when Michigan legalized marijuana, Johnson decided he wanted to get in on the ground floor.

“I have long been silent in other partnerships in other states, so it’s just like, I want to get involved on the grassroots level from the ground up, you know?” Johnson said. “I really want to be involved in this thing. I believe in it. I know it because I used it. 

“It helps me with inflammation. It helps me with pain. So I’m like, ‘OK, let’s really get down to the science of this.'”

Also read: What are the Benefits of CBD Flower?