It was February 2001, the Las Vegas Outlaws vs. the Memphis Maniax, the XFL on UPN.
Surely you remember the XFL.
The public address announcer came on the air saying he couldn’t wait to see the Maniax cheerleaders in wet T-shirts.
On the first play from scrimmage, “He Hate Me” — a.k.a, Rod Smart, one of seven XFLers who would play in the Super Bowl — broke off a nice run for the Outlaws. Ryan Clement, the Las Vegas quarterback, passed 38 yards to Todd Floyd, a former UNLV wideout.
The next time the Outlaws had the ball, Shante Carver, formerly of Arizona State and the Dallas Cowboys, put a maniacal hit on Clement.
“You could hear that thing separate,” said one of the announcers with glee.
Instead of trotting off the field, Clement sprinted to the Memphis huddle — clutching his separated shoulder all the while — and got into Shante Carver’s facemask.
Now do you remember the XFL?
The pain was unbearable.
So now Ryan Clement is a lobbyist, and an advocate, for legalizing marijuana.
He said if you’re a quarterback with a badly separated shoulder, and the morphine has you hooked like a bass on the end of Bill Dance’s fishing line, you might want to give it a try.
Just don’t let NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s gumshoes catch you.
“A lot of my friends in college who had gone on to play in the pros talked about their pain management issues, and what they had done,” Clement said recently during a timeout at the Marijuana and Business Conference Expo at the Rio. “And what they had done was use marijuana.”
You didn’t have to be high to play quarterback in a short-lived, start-up league founded by pro wrestling czar Vince McMahon that did not protect quarterbacks. But when Carver planted you like a petunia and you separated your shoulder, it literally didn’t hurt, Clement said.
“I tried it. It gave me the ability to get rid of the opiods, to manage (the pain) in a way that wasn’t an addictive scenario,” said the former University of Miami player. “It helped me realize that (medical marijuana use) was not taboo. In the NFL, it still is — had I been in the NFL and tested positive, that certainly would have been the end of me.”
There’s a YouTube video during which Clement talks about breaking Todd Marinovich’s high school passing records while Clement was playing for Mullen High School in Denver. But before you joke about their careers going up in smoke — Marinovich’s substance abuse problems with the NFL’s Raiders are well-documented — one should know that Clement was recruited by Ivy League schools and all three service academies.
He wasn’t your typical pothead quarterback.
Clement, who said he had never smoked marijuana until college — and even then only as a “rite of passage” — returned to Miami after taking that big hit at the Liberty Bowl. He obtained his law degree; he became a government affairs lobbyist back home in Colorado. When legalizing marijuana became a hot button political issue — it’ll be put to vote in Nevada in 2016 — he came off the bench for Mary Jane.
It was a difficult decision, he said, much tougher than leading Miami to a victory over Virginia in the Carquest Bowl.
“It took months to get through my head that this was something I wanted to be, an advocate,” Clement said.
“The fact I have three kids, and my 7-year-old is in second grade, and he’s a little quarterback, and I’m coaching his team — it sent a chill down my spine on how that might affect my kids, when I have to explain it.”
It would sort of be like explaining the human coin toss before an XFL game, when the ball would be tossed between a player from each side, and they would fight for it.
“But I just do not see it as a negative,” Clement said, turning earnest. “This is something that can help when used responsibly. It can be a positive thing.”
It might even be a fantastic business opportunity.
Clement is involved with a project called the Colorado Cannabis Ranch. When he explained it to me at the Rio, it sounded like the Coors brewery in Golden, near where he’s from, only with Cheech Marin serving as host instead of one of the Coors siblings.
He said that was it exactly, except the part about Cheech Marin.
“We’re really excited about it,” Clement said. “We’re going to be the closest dispensary to the Denver International Airport.”
Which could make long flight delays when it snows more tolerable, one supposes.
“A big component of it is the education and awareness and acceptance of marijuana as an adult use platform, and also the medicinal side of it,” Clement said, sounding more like a lobbyist.
He said there also would be an amphitheater at the big weedery by the airport where “we’re going to marry marijuana use with music.”
I started thinking that unlike the XFL’s human coin toss, and unlike He Hate Me, that part already had been done. Think Bob Marley and Bob Dylan and lots of other musicians not named Bob, such as the Rolling Stones.
But it was as if Ryan Clement, the former Outlaw quarterback — “He Advocate Me,” for lack of a better nickname — was reading my mind.
“No, it’s going to be really educational,” he said with clear eyes and a straight face.