Plants Over Pills - Speaking with NFL Player David Irving about Cannabis and Recovery

April 23, 2020

 

High! Canada Magazine was extremely fortunate  to have the amazing opportunity to interview NFL defensive lineman - David Irving. David is a star athlete, at the top of his game and of his professional career. He continues to draw a line in the sand when it comes to the heavy handed prescriptions they force onto professional athletes and he continues to challenge the status quo within professional athletics about choosing cannabis as a healthier treatment option.

He has become a very vocal spokesperson in professional athletics on the topic of plants over pills and it is an extreme honor to have you on the cover and inside the magazine so that we can offer you a platform to tell your story.


Hell yeah man! So basically, I will start with the NFL. That's really what ties everything together.

My name is David Irving. I quit the NFL because I didn't agree with the organization's Drug policy. Needless to say, NFL players take a lot of physical damage. With our pain and regular life stressors, we must maintain our bodies. The NFL prescribed me all sorts of pharmaceuticals including: Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Seroquel, Gabapentin, Xanax, Ambien, Tramadol, Naproxen, and of course the pill form alternatives and Generics. I couldn't make peace with the fact that I was forced to take all those deadly, addicting, lab made drugs, instead of being allowed to use a healthy alternative. For me, that alternative was Cannabis. Cannabis alone can be used as a substitute for all the lab made medications prescribed to me. Choosing Cannabis instead of opioids, resulted in a handsome fine, a suspension, and a nice long trip to an In-patient rehabilitation Center.

While in Rehab, I was able to obtain a magnified view of how the same drugs that I was prescribed can be detrimental to my physical, mental, and emotional health.  Many of the patients I met there described how their lives have been ruined by the very drugs that I was prescribed. I learned a lot about myself, but more Importantly, my experiences fortified my decision to choose #Plantsoverpills.
 

 

Shortly after my release from rehab, I quit the NFL. I made a conscious decision to prioritize my health over my wealth, and I couldn't live with myself had I done otherwise. Helping people get off harsh pharmaceuticals and advocating for a healthy lifestyle is my new mission. Saving lives is far more important than football. Although my decision to quit has improved my well-being, and inspired many others, the media has shed a dark light on my name. Many commentaries have said I am a freakishly talented athlete that ruined his entire career to smoke weed. The media implies that I am just some unintelligent drug addict. People who don't know me personally might even think that I'm a bad man, but my goal is to continue being a healthy man in his right mind, not strung out on harsh drugs. The truth is that I'm a honest man. I'm a God-Fearing man. I am a family man. I am a renaissance man. I am David Irving.

Basically I decided I needed to quit. I decided I needed to quit. So I did. So I went on Instagram Live and I posted the video. Pretty much telling everybody what I'm telling you. I let them know it was bullshit, that you have to take opioids, a huge opioid epidemic for what? The ten past fucking years?

No one ever talks about it. 72,000 people died last year and marijuana has never killed anyone. So I told everyone that was on IG Live. I said I quit, sparked up the king-sized joint and here we are.

We've talked to so many people across the world about how cannabis has changed their life and a lot of them are stepping away from hardcore opiates. They had you on hardcore prescriptions. When did you have the realization that Cannabis was working and that those pharmaceuticals - the things they were pushing on you - were not?
 

 

Well it was a process, a two-year process. So at first I was in there, not using anything because I was using weed. I didn't even think twice about the medical benefits or anything. I was still using it, you know. Always, I don't know, always worked. So then over the years, getting off the marijuana, I had to, you know maintain my body. I realized without weed, I  couldn't sleep.

I couldn't sleep at all. We had to be up at 7:30am, no I'm lying. We had to be there in our meetings with breakfast in your hand at 7:30am and we don't get to leave home until 5:45pm so it's a really long day, all the time every day. So for me without the weed I would stay up till 1:00 or 2:00 AM, wake up at 6 and leave for work at 7:00AM. Then have meetings all day, practice and a half, weight lifting, running and so on and after two or three days of that, it all catches up to you.  Now your attitude is irritable, now you have these bad headaches, now you can't concentrate, now you can't remember the plays. It's just horrible.  Another thing for me I couldn't eat! I guess I relied on the munchies to eat. So without weed I had zero appetite.

 

It was like I was taking Adderall you know. You know the pain, inflammation, all of a sudden I started hurting more. I was doing the same thing I've always been doing. You know nothing's changed, same practice routine but I'm just not fucking recovering and that turned into Tramadol and the Naproxen and that turner into Hydro's (Hydromorphone) and then those turned into Oxy's (OxyContin) that they prescribed me. And once my prescribed Oxy's (OxyContin) ran out. Guess what? I know where to find morphine on the street so I would pop morphine recreationally.

You know, I got on all that shit and I saw how it affected me. It had me doing things out of character, let's put it like that. You know I didn't really know what the hell was going on. I was to the point guys, where like right now I'm on the phone with you guys, if we had bad reception guys I would have broken this fucking phone and went to the store right now and bought a new one. Like that's how stressed out I was. With this fucking pain I was staying in my room all day, not talking to nobody. I mean I game all day anyways. But It was different, I was gaming then,  smoking weed still. Like fuck it, I'm already in trouble, popping pills to go with it because it felt good, it felt great. It was the edge I needed, they got me on the stuff. It was just a horrible experience. Then I went into rehab and I actually started learning more about the opioids, well, all the drugs really. How they affected you, the things they do to your brain, the long-term effects as well as short-term and said 'fuck this'. You know even in rehab I'm meeting with these professionals and I tell them 'you guys got me in here in Rehab but I'm here for weed'.  

My roommate in Rehab literally got kicked off for shooting heroin on the roof and like, these are the people are living with now. I'm a part of this culture so I had to learn. Like you know, we all sat together, did group together, we all shared our experiences. And it's funny, everyone was like 'Man, you in here for weed?' That's what got me off this,  That's what got me off this. I'm sitting there like the fucking guy in prison with other killers and murderers and rapists and all I did was steal a candy bar.

Naw. And even the therapist told me this isn't about weed. Smoking weed is not a problem, that's never been a problem. They said but let's talk about why you started smoking weed. Let's talk about your childhood. Let's talk about some trauma. And it was the best there I could ever have for four months and it changed my life. And that's when I grew the confidence in the mindset to leave football. When I got out, you know, I felt like at the end of the day.
 

Football is a sport and honestly I'm mostly played because I was 6'8" guy and gifted with natural ability. I wish I could sit here and lie to you guys and tell you that - oh man I've worked out so hard, I was the first one in and the last one to leave. Fuck no, I was the guy who would skip out a workout if I could. Why? Because I had the natural ability. I've never had to be the strongest on the field. I don't know it.  just had to be natural. You know I was playing so that my mom could say My son plays for the Dallas Cowboys. So my friends could say I have a friend that plays for Dallas Cowboys.

I never did it for me. For David, I've always been heavily into gaming, acting, modeling but here we are now.

You're a big advocate of CBD now and I was wondering how you were introduced to CBD and when did you start using it.  I know I talk to a lot of professional athletes and they, they tend to introduce it into their regiment, post workout recovery. Did you find yourself drawn to CBD?

For me, what drew me to CBD was the whole anti-anxiety effect. So with the CBD push, I never really got into it, too much until I quit. Up until that point as far as I knew was recreational weed you know. I didn't look into the medical aspects until I have to stop using it and then realizing there was something different. You see I've been smoking since I was 12, always had a 3.0 or higher GPA, never got on trouble with the law.


So CBD, I remember I quit the League, people started to reach out to put me into the business. I was supposed to do a collaboration with this guy and make my own CBD products. I said well does it get you high? No, and they explained to me. They explained everything about CBD. I was like Hmm, let me see, it doesn't make sense and I started using it. I would buy drinks, CBD Water Bottles. Got my CBD throughout the day. Man, I was sitting there, so relaxed, just so...I don't know. I started feeling all the medical benefits and I started looking up the tincture and how you got to keep it up every day then I started doing research about how it works with inflammation and more importantly, it protects your brain. It's a neuro-protectant. You know Football players, we have a lot of concussions.  Basically it is part of our job. Especially on the line, you hike the ball, and you are on the offensive line, and your head gets hit a lot. That's the only thing that we have that works as a neuro-protectant from traumatic brain injury (CTE). So I felt like shit. If anyone that should be able to use this, it should be football players. Basketball players get to smoke weed freely and use CBD freely and they don't even touch anybody. They get in trouble for any physical contact. On the other side you got me, a really powerful 6'8" guy running into somebody in 4 seconds and he is running into me and you know it is a big collision.

I've had over 20 concussions. I've been playing football since I was 7 years old. They don't take it serious. The NFL. I've had my shoulder x-rayed, my ribs x-rayed, my fingers, ankles, back, neck. Guess what? When I have a concussion and I've had over 7 with the Dallas Cowboys, I haven't had one brain scan. Now I think that's crazy. If it was the fingers, they scanned them, if it was the ankles they scanned it. When I'm concussed and when I can't even remember my name? They don't give me a brain scan. They don't care at all.

David, can you lead us through the circumstances that led to the creation of your new venture Cannabis Passport?

Cannabis Passport is the world's first rolling paper magazine. One of our packs provides 100 Hemp papers which is 3X more than the competitors and we give you an included 100 filter tips. And these filters tips are formed, made and designed in the form of an advocacy magazine. We actually printed on them like a little book. We use soy ink so that's 100% vegan and you could eat off out of it if you wanted to. Don't recommend it though.
 

 

It gives us a lot more flexibility than any other rolling weed company so to put into perspective though, you know RAW, they have papers, then you have to go buy a pack of filter tips, then you have to buy 3 packs of papers and 3 packs of filter tips to combine, to equal what we have. And we have ads, we have ads space. We could actually sell our ad space and become the World's first FREE rolling paper magazine.
The response from our Advertisers and JVs - Joint Ventures are paying for itself basically. What we talked about earlier, there is information in there. There's facts about the Cannabis plant, CBD.

We point out things on the War on Drugs. We really put a magnifying glass to the whole opioid epidemic. Like I said, we have the space to write whatever we want. Since it's a Passport, the name itself gives us a sense of community. American, you have an American passport. If you're Chinese, you have a Chinese passport. If you use Cannabis, this is now your Cannabis passport.
It is a sense of community, brings people together. What I've noticed with Cannabis is, not just black people use it, white people use it, old, young, nerds, thugs, athletes, doctors. It brings people together that otherwise would not come together without cannabis being the common denominator.

Could I ask where the idea came from? I've seen the Cannabis Passport and I love it. Now I believe you just released an Irish Edition and I am seeing it become a global sensation and it's really linking what used to be individual countries, Cannabis communities but on a greater level. Taking Cannabis space to the next eventual... Did you have the idea to create the space that encompasses all Cannabis communities from around the world? Was this something you had considered?

Well I'll be honest. This is how it started. Most people know me as the guy, the NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys, set a couple records, won... I set a NFL record. And I was the guy who quit on Instagram Live, smoked a joint... so literally I had no plan. I just knew I was unhappy with where I was. I didn't like what I representing. I didn't like taking all those opioids. There is this stigma for players attached to the NFL, that we are all dumb football players. The perception that we football players are dumb guys at school, you know the big brutes and in the NFL they treat you like so. They tell us to shut up and that these are the rules. That we are going to have to take it or leave it. We can't leave it.

Why? Most of us are big black guys. We have dreads, we have tattoos. We aren't getting a normal job. So we shut up and play ball.

Then a guy named John reached out to me. Keep in mind, I am a believer that everything happens for a reason and the timing of everything, you know.

I had decided to quit then John reached to me. Some random guy from Canada and he said 'hey man, this is the Cannabis Passport. This is what it is. I'm working on it right now. I want you to be a part of it. Take your input and get you involved in part of the company. ‘

 

 At first I was like, Yeah Whatever, you're some random guy, it's never going to work. You know, I don't know you. You don't know me; we're never going to meet whatever. We had a few conversations and then it just so happens, one of my good friends had a bachelor party in Canada. John saw me on my Instagram live and I didn't realize I was 20 minutes away from him. John said 'hey, let me come over. Let's meet. I am going to show you how serious I am”.

So we met. He pulled put the prototype and I was like Damn, this thing is real. I liked it. I loved it. We smoked. I'm a big joint guy. I started out with RAW Elements King Sized. Just trying to find the right paper, the right roll, the right burn and the papers if anything were fucking awesome. They burn cleanly. They are easy to roll.They're great papers. I  swear. Every single one I used, whenever I used one, they're great papers. You know I was like 'Fuck it John, Obviously the Universe is pulling us together’. This is something I'm very excited  about. We have similar stories. He was a lawyer and he had some medical issues and he got strung out on opioids for about a year. With his profession, he wasn't allowed to use Cannabis as a healthy alternative either. He left law and put everything he had into Cannabis Passport. So I felt Canadian. I felt everything happens for a reason. You know things are flowing well. We had good rapport. We've been working. We had an idea to go to a Champs Trade Show. We didn't have money for a booth. We didn't know anyone. We didn't know what the hell we were doing at first.

We show up with our embossed passports in our hand and we just walked around talking to people. So many people shut us down. They said Hey, do you got a booth. We said No and got in return 'nope, not interested'. Simple as that. We ended up meeting the owner of Champs actually said he loved this product. He loved what we are doing. He loved what we were standing for and he said 'you know what - I'm going to open up my Rolodex to you. Here are all my friends in the business, Trade Shows. At the next trade show coming up, you got yourself a free booth. You just come here and keep doing what you are doing because it's a great cause. A cause that people can relate to’.
 

 

Since then we kept going to trade shows, kept meeting people. Kept being honest and real and kept speaking about real things like I'm doing with you. None of this is a facade. None of this is. I was once at a point where I was taking 30mg of morphine a day, When I didn't have them, it was horrible, you know. This is a real matter that we are dealing with in America especially with the opiate epidemic. And Cannabis Passport overall is a voice to fight against that. A lot of Cannabis companies have a big recreational backing. Let's see who can roll the biggest joint. Let's see who can smoke the five things at once. While that is great - Cannabis Passport has a medical focus.  On my Instagram, I don't do much smoking and posting unless it's marketing, helping the company, getting the name out there. Besides that, I try to keep it clean cut. Why? Because it is bigger than it is. I want to go and lobby for Congress on these matters.

One last thing, we are donating a percentage of proceeds to the Harvard study on CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) We are working with Megatron, Calvin Johnson. Yeah it's a big deal. A lot of people don't know this. Just putting it out there. Maybe someone will look into it and understand me better. CBD works as a neuro protectant. It protects us from Traumatic Brain Injury (CTE). So let me leave you guys with that.Do your research, this plant is life. This plant is us. We have receptors for it. This is the way we need to go. Literally Marijuana or Cannabis can cover all the bases. It can cover pain, It can cover anxiety. It can cover anything. It can cover sleeping. Mood Stabilizers, it can cover everything. So let's lean on it.

 

 

I'm sure you had a couple of interesting conversations with friends and family
when you, when you made the decision to drop you know drop football and pick up Cannabis professionally like full time. Do you recall any of these conversations and how they went?


To be honest with you, I didn't talk to anyone about it. No one knew I was going to do it. Not my mom, not my dad. Not even my Agent.

You must have gotten a number of telephone calls after you announced it?

My phone broke basically. That's when mom started calling me, cussing me out. Friends and family cut off. I used to have fans, friends and family, literally everything single day in The NFL. I quit, the same fans who were 10 minutes away I have literally not talked to them, I've not seen them since.

I had family members roll me up every single day, wanting me in the NFL. Now that I'm out. I've been out for a year, year and a half, almost two. I haven't got one phone call from said family members. So you know it was actually a great experience because you know now everyone looked into this... You made a dumbass decision, quit, to smoke weed, be a pothead and do nothing with your life. Trying to do Cannabis, there's no money in it, go back to Football. Hey, people don't realize you don't get paid shit in Football. Our Sport gets paid the least. You know in the NBA, you get a $150 Million Dollars contact fully guaranteed. MLB, $300 Million Dollars contract fully guaranteed. NFL, you're happy with a four year, $75 Million Dollars deal with $30M guaranteed. That's a great deal. You know what I'm saying. So I had to explain this to people. A guy like me. Remember I was kicked out of Iowa State. I was homeless for a fucking year before I went to the NFL. So I didn't get drafted. I missed out on the big signing bonuses. I got in for free, no signing bonus. $6K a month. You know so, everyone has these perceptions that you're so rich, you've got all this money and they don't realize that there is money in the Cannabis space. And even if there wasn't as much money in the Cannabis space, it's for a better cause. Saving lives and converting people. Helping people. Football literally is just fucking a sport. It's not helping nobody. Not saving any lives. You know?

Very well said, very well said. Anything you would like to touch on that we may not have touched on?

I do. I'm really, really, really, really deep into EA Sports. I stayed up till 430AM in the morning playing on my PC and I just woke up right now. Going to go but I have this phone call. So I'm into gaming, EA Sports team right now. There's as much money in that as anything right now. All the products are new, kind of different. EA Sports us another unique avenue. Talking about...I‘m loving it, talking about especially with the Coronavirus happening. Everyone is into their video game now. So if there's anything you want to do video games wise, it's a big fucking deal right now.

David -  anything in particular you'd recommend for quarantined North Americans?

Yeah! Get a PC, get an XBox controller to use with a PC. Apex Legends which is a free game. I play Apex Legends, the new Call of Duty War Zone is actually really hot. Just came out, people have to be quarantined the week after it came out. Xbox, I play (NBA) 2K20, a very popular game, a lot of hype around it. Rainbow Six Siege, One of my boys is #34 in the world. Bluetooth extended shit.  

I'm also into acting. I've been acting since I was seven years old. I've done auditions at Paramount Studios. In 2015, I got on the TV show on the Reelz Channel on the cable network called the Murder Made Me Famous.

In college, I performed alot in school plays. Had an opportunity to perform on Broadway somewhere, something like that. But I couldn't do it because it got in the way of Spring Ball in College. I've anchored Red Carpet events.

In Dallas 2019 which is the Dallas Music Awards. (Background Static) I really love public speaking. I don't hold up to too many stereotypes, none of it. I'm a Universal guy, have many interests people can relate to. My black audience. My white audience. My old audience. My young audience. My boys, my girls. I feel like I could have, do whatever it is to be done.  Whatever ideas you may have, let me know. Switch to Urban. I know how to switch to extremely professional. Whatever you need to do, I'm pretty much willing to do what it takes.

It is really great to talk to someone as passionate as you about life and a big advocate of the plants and plants over pills movement as well. I know that there are many people around North America that are going to be greatly inspired by you,  your decision and your story..

Thank you man.
I hope so!

I know so.


 

 

 

 

 



 

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