Getty Images

Ricky Williams played in the NFL from 1999 to 2011 and the retired running back says during his time in the league he saw many players use marijuana to help with pain. The conversation around marijuana has changed since he was drafted, as the use of it is now legal in many states.

Williams -- or Errick Miron, since he recently changed his name -- says players have long been using the drug to cope with pain.

"My rookie year, a Hall of Fame player on the team, he's in the Hall of Fame now, invited me over to his house and he gave me the speech about how to take care of yourself in the NFL," Williams said (via USA Today). "And he pulled out some cannabis, crushed it up, split a blunt, opened it up, put the cannabis in there, took a Vicodin, crushed it up, sprinkled the Vico in there, rolled up the blunt and passed it to me. That was a vet, teaching me as a rookie, how to take care of myself in the NFL."

The 45-year-old shared another instance of marijuana being present in the league when he played, saying, "My last year in the NFL, I was playing for the Ravens. And one point we were in the playoffs and I was leaving the facility and there were guys coming in with a plate full of 'brownies.' They [were] going to go watch film, so yeah…"

Williams notes that "things have changed a lot" from when he was playing and now that the laws around marijuana has changed he is supportive of players using it to help themselves.

"And now, because it's more legal, it's to the point, why wouldn't you [use it] if you're in the NFL?" Williams asks.

Looking ahead, the former first round pick thinks marijuana will be more prevalent in the league as talks around the drug loosen.

"I think in the future, teams are gonna be supplying cannabis for the players because they've realized it's a healthy alternative [to] pharmaceuticals," Williams said.

Like some states did, the league also changed its policy and outlook on marijuana.

The CBA raised the threshold for determining a positive marijuana test, going from 35 nanograms to 150. It eliminated suspensions for a positive test and did not test for THC until the preseason.