Eugene Monroe, the former Ravens offensive tackle and advocate for cannabis research in the NFL, announced Thursday he is retiring from football, citing his health and family for reasons to walk away.
“I’m only 29 and I still have the physical ability to play at a very high level, so I know that my decision to retire may be puzzling to some,” wrote Monroe in a first-person piece for The Players’ Tribune. “But I am thinking of my family first right now — and my health and my future.”
“The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to both my head and my body. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. Has the damage to my brain already been done? Do I have CTE? I hope I don’t, but over 90 percent of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I am terrified.”
Eugene Monroe: More on the NFL and CBD
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Monroe became the first active player to join the When the Bright Lights Fade campaign, committing $80,000 to help fund two studies on hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) for treating pain from football-related injuries and possibly chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Monroe has also advocated for medical marijuana, although he says he never consumed either during his career because of the NFL’s ban.
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“For all my anxiety, I’m actually excited for what the future holds because I feel prepared for it,” he wrote. “Even though my football career is over, I plan to continue to be a vocal advocate for medical marijuana research, particularly as it relates to CTE. More steps need to be taken to curb the overuse of opioids in NFL locker rooms, and I won’t rest until something is done.”
Monroe was released by the Ravens in June after playing six games last season and missing the 2016 offseason program because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. Some speculated his advocacy for marijuana factored into the Ravens’ decision, but coach John Harbaugh vehemently denied that played a part.
I'm overwhelmed and appreciative of the love and support I've received in announcing my decision to retire. Thank you all who care!
— Eugene Monroe (@MrEugeneMonroe) July 21, 2016