Did the Ravens release Eugene Monroe over advocacy of marijuana?

By Vincent Frank

Things seemed to trend downhill between former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and his team prior to his release from the squad on Wednesday.

There wasn’t much to suggest a rift between the two sides at any point prior to this week’s news that Monroe was not going to show up for off-season activities.

As the team’s starting left tackle, Monroe’s importance to its success cannot be understated. To release him at this point in the summer suggests that something had to happen behind the scenes.

In our piece reporting his release, we indicated that it was highly unlikely that Monroe’s advocacy for the legalization of medical marijuana in the league likely didn’t play a role in the decision to release him (more on that here).

However, Pro Football Talk did a bit of delving and came up with a couple interesting points that make us rethink that stance.

First off, the Ravens made a point of mentioning Monroe’s opinion on the marijuana situation in the press release announcing his release. They also made a point of indicating they didn’t support his cause.

“Monroe had surgery to repair a torn labrum (shoulder) this offseason, and used the time off to become the first active NFL player to openly campaign for the use of medical marijuana,” per the team’s official website. “The Ravens did not rally behind the cause.”

Not only has Monroe been pushing for the league to allow for the use of medical marijuana, his lobbying on the situation led to a meeting between scientists and the NFL on the topic (more on that here).

Again, this doesn’t mean that the Ravens’ organization was sold on the idea.

“I promise you, he does not speak for the organization,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said during the spring.

Would a team seriously release a player over a supporting a social push to move the NFL beyond its archaic ways when it comes to its drug policy? That has to be the million-dollar question here.

What we do know is that Baltimore did not have an issue with former players Brendon Ayanbadejo or Matt Birk, who were on the opposite ends of the marriage equality debate earlier this decade.

This is all pure conjecture, and the Ravens will never come out and admit the true reason for releasing Monroe.

It is, however, interesting that the organization would come out and mention his stance on marijuana while making clear to note it didn’t support him. Doing so when announcing his release makes this even more interesting.