Gene Collier: Franco Harris takes a stance on medical marijuana

Every now and again it becomes merely prudent around here that we study the frenetic activities of the indestructible, indefatigable, indispensible Franco Harris. cheap jerseys china

Thirty-four years after he last gripped a football for the Steelers, Harris remains the leading rusher in the history of an NFL franchise whose brand he more or less inverted. In the 100 games prior to his arrival from Penn State in 1972, the Steelers were 26–71–3. In the 100 games thereafter, they were 74–25–1, which includes two of the four Lombardi Trophies that are covered in his fingerprints.

But it was when №32 hung up his museum-ready cleats that he really got to work. In this so-called retirement, the metaphorical yardage he’s piled up frankly dwarfs his seminal contribution to the football team.

“He’s done more for the Pittsburgh community, from a social aspect and a cultural aspect, than any athlete in this history of this city,” said the former PR ace Joe Gordon, who’s been watching Franco since he rode a PAT bus to and from practice as a rookie. “And it’s not even close.”

It’s hard to locate Franco from one day to the next, as he is perpetually overscheduled. If you must find him, look toward the issues of cheap jerseys the day, because he’ll be concerned about most of them, and he’ll be following the play, just in case he can make a difference, especially when no one thinks he can. This very instinct, you well know, is the reason the Immaculate Reception was not a total accident.

His issues now include, but are not limited to, medicinal marijuana and the opioid epidemic, two things with which he has no experience because he is, as mentioned, indestructible.

“Even during my playing days, I really didn’t have to do anything with pain management,” he told me the other day. “I’ve never had any long-term pain. I’ve been pretty lucky all the way back to high school. I’m even more amazed that at 67 I’m not dealing with more issues.

“I will tell you this, if it ever comes to a point where I do need pain management, wholesale jerseys china I’d feel very lucky and happy now that we have medicinal marijuana in Pennsylvania.”

With both the medical marijuana rollout and the opioid epidemic, Harris has positioned himself at odds with the National Football League, which somehow doesn’t recognize medicinal marijuana as a pain relief agent even while it’s passing out powerful pain killing drugs like tic-tacs. All 32 teams are being sued for misusing pain killers, with Steelers physician Anthony Yates saying in a deposition that the majority of NFL teams as of 2010 were violating federal laws by letting trainers to control prescriptions drugs.

But typically, Harris doesn’t get mad. He gets thoughtful.

“The NFL is reviewing its position on medical marijuana,” Harris said evenly. “They’re really reviewing their whole pain management regimen and how those things are handled, but if you don’t mind me giving you my personal feeling (why the hell would I mind?), I feel in any state that has approved medical marijuana (as 28 states hosting 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams have), the league should remove medical marijuana from being a banned substance. I feel that recreational marijuana should be a banned substance in the NFL, but medical marijuana has a different composition.”

It’s true that among Harris’s roughly 500 current jobs is chairman of Sewickley-based Laurel Green Medical, an applicant for two regional permits to grow and process marijuana, and that he supports Mayor John Fetterman’s efforts to put a growing/processing plant in Braddock, itself desperately in need of pain relief. Based on the inevitable screed of nasty, ignorant comments on line, you’d think Harris was in this for himself.

The fact that he doesn’t need the money, like the fact that cheap nfl jerseys he has no personal, physiological dog in this fight, somehow gets lost on the nasty and the ignorant.

“I’ve talked to a number of people and I know there have been studies that show the science behind medical marijuana in relation to pain management,” Harris said. “I’ve talked to people who’ve been in pain due to falling off a roof or being in a car accident and they have praised medical marijuana and how it helped them. The science is there to support its benefits with seizures, epilepsy, a lot of different conditions. It’s not addictive and, to me, this is just one of the most important things we can do for people.”

Harris turned up a press conference with Governor Tom Wolf last week to push for better guidelines on the way opioids are distributed. He told the P-G’s Ray Fittipaldo that two of his friends had children die from overdoses in the past six months. I’m not sure he’s aware of this, but his running mate from cheap jerseys from china 1976, when the Steelers had two thousand-yard backs, felt the pull of opioids himself some twenty years into retirement.

“I had a back problem, one of those things where if you moved a certain way, BAM, it would drop me to my knees,” Rocky Bleier was saying this week. “Eventually they found a cyst and operated, but for awhile they couldn’t find it and in the meantime, I got on OxyContin. After the operation, I didn’t need OxyContin anymore, but oh my god, what a withdrawal! I thought it would be when you wholesale jerseys stop taking Alleve or Percocet.

“I woke up in the night, disoriented, with sweats, paranoid, standing by the bed. My wife was really frightened. I couldn’t breathe. They rushed me to the hospital. They kept me overnight and I just kind of cold-turkeyed out of it, but all I could think was, ‘Wow, I can see how people get hooked on this. They can’t get rid of them because of the pain it creates.’ That was my feeling.”

Compound that experience with the weekly torture of recovering from an NFL Sunday, compound that with a league policy on marijuana that is strictly punitive, and you’ll see the basic outline of the deal players have made with the devil.

“Pain every day is not good, not a good quality of life, so pain management is very important,” said Harris. “I would put it this way. I know the league is starting to have more open discussion on this at this time. And I know what a big step for them. It’s not something they take lightly. I like that it’s open to discussion. I’m hoping that they realize that pain management is very important to current and past players and if past players are going to be involved with medical marijuana and that it’s legal, I don’t see why current players shouldn’t.”

This is the Franco way. He speaks slowly, thinks deeply, and nudges you toward that thinking. He eats his daily blueberries and takes his daily fish oil. He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t tire. And it will be a very dark day in every corner of Pittsburgh when he does.

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