Free agent running back Mike James tried to persuade the NFL to let him use marijuana as a painkiller.
He failed. The league denied his request a month ago, according to a report by NJ.com.
James told NJ.com that using prescription painkillers to deal with the pain of playing football led to a dependence on those drugs. A doctor recommended marijuana, saying it was safer.
The results were favorable in James' case, he said. He now advocates for the use of marijuana as a painkiller.
In certain instances, professional sports leagues have allowed athletes to use substances, even if they are banned by the league, if there are specific medically-proven therapeutic benefits for the athlete.
James asked for a therapeutic-use exemption to allow him to use marijuana, but the NFL denied the request.
"I am hopeful that I'll be able to keep playing football," James said, per the NJ.com report. "It is a game that I love very dearly. I know right now I'm doing something that makes some people uncomfortable, and that I'm going against the establishment to push for a change in the way they look at this medicine. I know there's a greater purpose here for a lot of guys in this league who I consider family members."
James, 27, is not a star player, and it remains to be seen whether he will be signed by any team for the 2018 season. He did not play in 2017, and he played just four games in 2016 while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rushing four times for 14 yards and catching four passes for 22 yards.