"NFL games I played stoned were some of the best games I ever played," Eben Britton says …

We ask them to relentlessly bash against one another to gain a few inches at a time down the playing field, wrapped only with straps of Styrofoam and space age plastics for protection. Many are operating at extreme levels of intensity for a full 17 weeks out of the year, for a trophy made of shiny metals and the honor of saying they’re the ‘best’ until the next profitable season comes around. Most become decrepit pawns in their 30s, too ‘old’ to continue. All for entertainment.

And yet, none of them are ‘allowed’ to smoke weed. But most of them do anyway.

"NFL games I played stoned were some of the best games I ever played," ex-NFL player Eben Britton recently told the New York Post.

Apparently, he’s not alone in this venture, either.

Getting high isn’t allowed in the NFL. It’s not allowed in most sports. Even though dozens of athletes have spoken out about its healing capabilities ad infinitum, weed is still an abrasive subject, especially here in the Land of the Free. It’s in a weird place.

Thousands of companies, right now, are on the other side of the taboo scale, raking in millions and writing legislation to alter the course of the drug. Others, like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his multi-billion dollar brand, are waiting to see where it all goes before making the next move. Teetering on an unknown.

Unfortunately for the players, they’re put in the awkward position of wanting to live out their dream, while also protecting themselves from a future of pains, emotional distress and possible PTSD. In the middle of the argument is the plant. But according to Britton, it’s more prevalent in the NFL than ever.

He estimates that over 50 percent of players currently use weed, and thinks it could be as high as 75 percent. An anonymous sports agent also speaking to the Post claims “the number is rumored to be as high as 80 percent,” even with the strict limits NFL holds its players to.

Currently, the league minimum for popping hot on a drug-screen is 35 nanograms per milliliter, up from 15 ng/ml last season. For comparison’s sake, the Olympics (which began banning weed in 1999) accepts 150 ng/ml in tests — because it says people smoking in their time off is of no concern. The threshold of 150 nanograms is to ensure competitors aren’t smoking the week of competition.

Fair enough.

Right now, almost half of NFL’s suspended players are as such because they violated the league’s “substance abuse” policy. While most of them have limited information available as to what substance violated the terms, many are known in the industry to be for pot — pain relief often cited as the reason why.

But there are alternatives to smoking weed for pain. Vicodin, Oxycontin … heroin … a trend Dr. Sue Sisley, a lead investigator on an FDA-approved cannabis study, has seen more often than not. 

“The dreaded end result [of being prescribed an opioid] is needing 400 milligrams a day just to feel normal,” she tells the Post. “I’ve seen professional athletes graduate to heroin because they can’t keep getting OxyContin.”

Therein lies the dilemma of most professional athletes. As more information continues to extend our understanding of weed and its positive influence on health, companies like the NFL are taking a hard stance on it to continue long-standing traditions of complete prohibition — yet have no problem dumping out buckets of highly-addictive pills. A treacherous road some players aren't keen on walking down.

One has to wonder why one of the world's biggest names in entertainment wouldn't take an appropriate stand for the safety of their athletes (those who make them money). The organization doesn't have to start selling stadium banners to dispensaries, or sponsor a pro-weed weed month where the players all wear hemp jerseys and offer free walking tacos to attendees — but a green light on a player's choice would speak more to the cause than any other stance by small, local efforts. It would be a big deal, a massive step forward.

Because the game has no problem beginning each match with the National Anthem, a song that ends with the words: "For the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

Not having a choice isn't being "free," and not protecting your peers isn't "brave." Though for '80 percent' of players in the game, it doesn't matter where the league stands.

The NFL has some work to do.