Barber: Ex-49er Nick Moody among athletes advocating for pot
Nick Moody was a 49ers linebacker in 2013 and 2014. He played parts of two other seasons with Seattle and Washington. And before just about every game, his routine was the same: get taped and padded up, stretch, study the playbook and get high.
Moody started smoking weed in high school. He was suspended for using at Florida State, and again in the NFL after multiple positive tests. But he never considered his usage a problem. The ban on marijuana in football? That was the problem.
“I feel like my best games were when I was highest,” Moody told me recently.
Weed was Moody’s anti-anxiety medication. It took the edge off NFL games, slowed them down, dimmed the nervousness, cleared his head, made it feel more like practice. “It kind of kept me from overthinking stuff,” he said.
And he didn’t light up alone. Playing under Jim Harbaugh, Moody would join a few teammates for their pregame ritual. “And we were real good, too,” he noted.
Indeed, the 49ers played in the NFC championship game in Moody’s rookie season. They were a touchdown short of going to the Super Bowl. Moody would like to be playing still. He had a tryout with the Browns this year. When nothing came of it, he decided to go public as an advocate for his other passion: marijuana.
In effect, he joined a chorus. Some athletes, like Moody, appreciate weed’s calming effect. Others see the herb as an alternative to addictive painkillers. Some believe it can even diminish the long-term effects of head trauma. Voters are starting to agree with them, even if many of their bosses don’t.
I caught up with Moody on Oct. 13, at the New West Summit in downtown Oakland. The setting was the Marriott City Center, which is connected to the Oakland Convention Center and is currently the site of the Golden State Warriors’ offices and practice courts. I’ve been there a hundred times, and frequently there is some sort of gathering abuzz on the ground floor. This one distinguished itself before I even set foot inside, as I walked through clouds of secondhand pot smoke on 10th Street.
The New West Summit was pretty much Weedapalooza. The center’s East Hall was a giant business fair. Vendors offered cannabis in gels, candies, coffee, tea and soft drinks. “It’s heavily dosed,” a lovely rep announced as she skewered strawberries and set out pretzels for dipping into the chocolate fountain her company had flowing. She was kidding. No THC in the chocolate that day.
Other booths covered practically every side of the cannabis business, from growing supplements, scales and e-commerce to security, testing instruments and vape technology. One vendor sold hemp oil for pets.
I was there that Saturday not for my nervous cat, but for a pair of discussion panels. The first, “The Future of Cannabis in Professional Sports,” featured two football players and a hockey player. The second, “An Honest Discussion Around Cannabis and Physical Activity,” focused on X Games-style extreme sports.
The message varied little between the two panels, though the featured athletes had very different relationships with pot. Marvin Washington, an NFL defensive lineman for 11 seasons (including two with the 49ers), said he micro-doses CBD (cannabidiol, a cannabis constituent with no psychoactive properties) every day for pain relief; “It’s like oil for the tin man,” he explained. Skateboarder Bob Burnquist said he would never get high for a big-ramp competition, because it would make him too nervous, but that it was perfectly appropriate for a creative best-trick contest. BMX cyclist Marc Willers said he never once rode while high; he didn’t embrace weed until he retired from the sport.
Frank Shamrock, a former MMA fighter and now a TV commentator, said he’s been smoking for 25 years and was a regular user while he was fighting. The only time it held him back was when he got licensed for a fight, because he knew he’d be tested.
“So I would stop smoking three weeks out, and just have the worst three weeks of my life,” Shamrock said. “And then I would go destroy somebody and go right back to it.”
To be clear, most of these spokesmen are involved with cannabis products. They have something to gain from its legalization and wider acceptance. Moody, for example, is a partner in CLC Brand Labs, which is already in production, and in another label, Flight Plan, that is in the works.
But most were users before they were businessmen, and it’s not like the New West Summit panelists are the only athletes extolling the benefits of pot. NFLers Jim McMahon and Kyle Turley, NBAers Al Harrington and Kenyon Martin, fighter Nick Diaz and cyclist Floyd Landis are among the advocates. Matt Barnes, who won an NBA championship with the Warriors in 2017, told Bleacher Report a few months ago that he regularly got high before games. It’s not just for Ricky Williams anymore.