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Clark: Multiple Steelers smoke weed to relieve stress, pain

| Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 4:15 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers safety Ryan Clark talks during practice Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, at St. Vincent.

Multiple Steelers players smoke marijuana to alleviate pain and cope with stress, partly because it is easy to circumvent the NFL's drug testing program, safety Ryan Clark said.

“I know guys on my team who smoke,” Clark said Thursday on ESPN. “And it's not a situation where you think, ‘Oh, these are guys trying to be cool.' These are guys who want to do it recreationally. A lot of it is stress relief. A lot of it is pain and medication.”

Clark did not identify the players.

“Guys feel like, ‘If I can do this, it keeps me away from maybe Vicodin, it keeps me away from pain prescription drugs and things that guys get addicted to,' ” Clark said. “Guys look at this as a more natural way to heal themselves, to stress relieve and also to medicate themselves for pain. Guys are still going to do it.”

Clark also agrees with New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who said the league is fighting a losing battle in controlling marijuana because the drug tests are predictable and aren't strict.

“The testing isn't stringent,” said Clark, who later wrote on his Twitter page that he does not use marijuana or condone its use. “There is one random test during OTAs and minicamps during the offseason, and everybody will be tested early in training camp. After that, there are no more tests. So guys understand the ways to get around failing a drug test.”

The Steelers said they support the league's drug-testing policy and would have no further reaction to Clark's comments.

Marijuana usage in the NFL was a much-discussed topic at the Super Bowl in New York because both participants came from states that have legalized marijuana for casual usage: Washington and Colorado.

Regardless, Seahawks and Broncos players are not permitted under the NFL's drug policy to use marijuana. Commissioner Roger Goodell reinforced that during a news conference Jan. 31, although he said the league is interested in determining whether medical marijuana for treating head injuries, for example, would be beneficial.

“We'll continue to follow the medicine,” Goodell said.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also said the league should weigh whether medical marijuana, which is legal in 20 states, would help ease players through injuries.

Clark, who is expected to become an NFL TV analyst after he is done playing, appears several times a year on ESPN to discuss the league. The 12-year veteran is not expected to re-sign with the Steelers and would become a free agent next month.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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