Six weeks followinghis release by the Ravens, veteran offensive tackle Eugene Monroe has decided to retire from the NFL after just seven years in the league. Monroe has taken a stance in favor of medical marijuana in the last year.
"Even though my football career is over," he writes at The Players' Tribune, "I plan to continue to be a vocal advocate of 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."
CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that's discovered only after death in autopsies. It's caused by multiple concussions and severe hits to the head.
He further explains in the article:
'The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to both my head and 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% of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I'm terrified.'
One of the symptoms is forgetfulness. His four-year-old daughter has even told him, "Daddy, you don't remember anything." The first thing on Monroe's agenda is "to go to the doctor. I need to take stock of my current health. I'm going to get brain and body imaging scans, mental health assessments—anything that might help me to get handle of the state of my body and my mind."
Monroe's troubles are nothing new. Nearly 5,000 players sued the NFL in 2011 for damages suffered from concussions. The suit was settled in 2013 with each player receiving approximately $190,000.
Retired NFL players have begun to press the league to allow marijuana use, especially in states where it's legal. Monroe was one of the only active players to join that effort. In June, he was cut by Baltimore, who claimed it had nothing to do with his pro-pot activities.
Monroe was a No. 1 pick (eighth overall) out of the University of Virginia in the 2009 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2013, the Jags traded Monroe to the Ravens. He signed a five-year, $37.5 contract in 2014.
His last two years in Baltimore were plagued by injuries. In 2015, he missed 10 games due to a concussion and a shoulder injury, which was repaired surgically.
This year, he donated $80,000 to CW Botanicals and Realm of Caring, both in Colorado Springs, for medical marijuana research.