Ricky Williams smoked marijuana during his NFL career. In fact, it cost him the entire 2006 season. But the 39-year-old maintains that marijuana has done him more good than harm.

He just wants others to feel the same way.

“It has helped, yeah,” the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL rushing leader said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I love having this conversation. People look at me and they say, ‘Oh, he’s a football player,’ and they have certain assumptions about who I am. At the core, I’m a healer and I’m a spiritual person. What I find with cannabis is it helps me detach from when I over-identify with labels that don’t work for me. It gives me this space to introspect and get a sense of who I really am and move forward.”

Williams, the subject of the SI.com documentary “Ricky Williams Takes the High Road,” wants to help change the way people view marijuana, especially in terms of healing.

“I think the way we grew up, there was such a negative stigma on marijuana,” he said. “People find themselves using it and at the same time beating themselves up – and also getting beat up from their parents and people who don’t understand. My experience of what I went through, I think, is a perfect example of how you can use cannabis and you don’t have to be stuck on the couch watching TV all day. You can still live your life and have a really high-quality life. If you’re going to use it, why not use it consciously and use it in ways that will enhance your life?”

While the NFL is yet to embrace medicinal marijuana as a means to help players with concussions, the government has decriminalized and legalized marijuana in several states.

Williams, it is worth nothing, believes the NFL is making strides in this area.

“I think it’s already moving in that direction,” he said. “The NFL is tough on people who fail multiple drug tests. If you fail one drug test, they put you in the program and they test you a bunch. If you stay clean for two years, then you’re out. The NFL has also changed their drug-testing policy. When I failed a test, it was 0.15 nanograms a milliliter. Now they’ve tripled it all the way 0.5. Even with that change, if those laws and those rules were in place in the NFL (when I played), I never would have been in the drug program. We wouldn’t be having this conversation. So it’s moving. But the NFL, a big business, a bit of a bureaucracy, it just moves slower. I think not until public opinion shifts all the way is the NFL going to take a stand.”


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