Pictured: Jacksonville Jaguars guard Eben Britton (73) and tackle Eugene Monroe (75) block against New York Jets outside linebacker Garrett McIntyre (50) and strong safety Antonio Allen (39) during the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (Phelan M. Ebenhack, The Associated Press)

Former NFL player Eben Britton says he played his best games while stoned

‘But hell, I played NFL games [while stoned], dude’: The NFL tests for marijuana use, but less frequently than for performance-enhancing drugs

Eben Britton, who spent six seasons in the NFL, claims that he often played his best games after smoking marijuana.

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“NFL games I played stoned were some of the best games I ever played. Cannabis cements your surroundings,” Britton, who spent four years in Jacksonville and two in Chicago, told the New York Post. “A lot of people say they’re useless when they smoke weed. But hell, I played NFL games [while stoned], dude. My performances were solid and I felt really good after.”

Britton, who turns 29 next month, said he estimates “over 50 percent and it could be as high as 75 percent” of NFL players smoke weed. The NFL tests for it, but less frequently than for performance-enhancing drugs. Britton was suspended by the NFL in 2015 and has not played in the league since.

Attitudes about marijuana are changing in the league, with a number of former players urging that its medicinal use be allowed as a safer alternative to painkillers. In May, Eugene Monroe, who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens in June, pledged $80,000 to further the study of marijuana use in professional football players in an effort to reduce reliance on addictive opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pains of playing in the league.

“There’s enough anecdotal evidence already to say, ‘Hey listen, we know it’s not toxic. We know it’s safer than what we’re already doing,’ ” he told The Post’s Adam Kilgore.

Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, with more likely by the end of the year. Four states and D.C. have fully legalized. In contrast, overdoses related to prescription pain medication caused 19,000 deaths in 2014.

For Britton, the drug offered more than therapeutic uses.

“Right after practice, me and one to three other [players] would go to somebody’s house [to get high],” the former offensive lineman said. “Smoking helped me to socialize with teammates. We let our guards down . . . But a lot of the time [stoned talk] wasn’t even about football. Cannabis took us out of football. We were hanging out and just being people. It brought us closer together as teammates.”

This story was first published on WashingtonPost.com