The Baltimore Ravens released offensive tackle Eugene Monroe earlier this week, and the San Francisco 49ers have been mentioned as a team that has expressed interest. It is entirely possible the 49ers were floated by Monroe’s agent in order to boost the market, but given the questions at right tackle, it is certainly possible the team is asking Monroe if he’d consider right tackle.
Whatever the case, Monroe’s departure from Baltimore is a little more interesting than your normal veteran release. Monroe has been an outspoken advocate of the value of marijuana as a substitute for the many painkillers the NFL currently uses. The physical nature of football means painkillers are a necessity for players to get through 16 games. However, the painkillers can be highly addictive substances that create numerous problems down the line. Monroe has been pushing for the NFL to remove marijuana from the banned substances list. He donated $80,000 to a group studying the impact of medical marijuana on traumatic brain injury and CTE. The NFL spoke with the researchers Monroe is funding to learn more about the study. The NFL reportedly requested the conversation, so that’s certainly a step in the right direction.
When the Ravens announced Monroe’s release, their PR team mentioned his marijuana advocacy in a rather odd way:
After being very durable during his five years in Jacksonville, Monroe missed games in Baltimore due to a multitude of injuries to his shoulder, knee, ankle and head.
Monroe had surgery to repair a torn labrum (shoulder) this offseason, and used the time off to become the first active NFL player to openly campaign for the use of medical marijuana. The Ravens did not rally behind the cause.
“I promise you, he does not speak for the organization,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said this offseason.
The Ravens were looking at trade options already, so I don’t think they unloaded him just because he was advocating to remove marijuana from the banned list. I imagine it made the decision a little easier, but I don’t think the Ravens dumped him because of his advocacy. On Thursday morning, Monroe tweeted out a brief statement.
The 49ers, Giants, and Seahawks have all been mentioned in connection with Monroe. On Thursday, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo addressed the media and said he has no problem coaching players who express their opinions, even on controversial topics. McAdoo would not be the final say on signing Monroe, but his opinion is still kind of a big deal in that process.
I have no idea what Chip Kelly or Trent Baalke think about the notion of medical marijuana. We can say with some certainty that Jed York probably doesn’t think it’s the end of the world. I still don’t expect the 49ers to sign Monroe, but I also don’t think his marijuana advocacy would be an issue.