Ex-Bear Jim McMahon: Medical marijuana got me off narcotic pain pills

Robert McCoppin

Chicago Tribune

Former Super Bowl champion and Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon says an unfairly demonized drug helped him recover from the pain of his football career: medical marijuana.

McMahon was in Chicago this week, where he attended Tuesday’s Bears reunion marking the 30th anniversary of their Super Bowl victory. He was also featured in an ESPN “30 for 30” screening of a documentary about the team, which includes a focus on his health struggles.

Now 56, McMahon has been plagued by debilitating health problems following his 15-year career and multiple concussions in the National Football League. He has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and has severe headaches, depression, memory loss, and vision and speech problems. He also said he suffered a broken neck.

As a result, he joined a pending class-action lawsuit accusing the NFL of negligence and misconduct in handling concussions.

Since going public with his health issues, McMahon said he has recently been feeling significantly better after chiropractic neck treatments to relieve the pressure.

But the key to getting off the prescription narcotic painkillers he took throughout his career, he said, was medical marijuana.

McMahon got his medical marijuana card in Arizona, where he lives, after it was approved by a voter referendum in 2010. Before that, he said, he’d been taking 100 Percocet pills a month for pain in his shoulders, neck and arms.

“They were doing more harm than good,” he said. “This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain — or thinking about it, anyway.”

On a typical day, McMahon will smoke marijuana in the morning to help him get up, a little in the afternoon depending on how he feels, and before bed, saying he couldn’t sleep without it.

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