NFL star Chris Long -- who just retired over the weekend -- is crediting weed for helping him last 11 seasons in the league ... saying regular marijuana use got him through the pain and stress during his career.
“I certainly enjoyed my fair share on a regular basis through my career,” Long told "The Dan Patrick Show" on Wednesday.
“If not for that, I’m not as capable of coping with the stresses of the day-to-day NFL life.”
We know what you're thinking ... how did Long successfully evade the NFL's rigorous drug testing program for all those years? It's actually pretty simple.
"The league, speaking plainly, knows damn well what they're doing. Testing players once a year for 'street drugs,' which is a terrible classification for marijuana, is kinda silly because players know when the test is. We can stop."
During that period away from weed, Long says players turn to more dangerous alternatives like pills and alcohol to deal with pain and stress ... and he's hoping the league eases up on testing to help.
“We should be headed to a place where we allow players to use what I wouldn’t even call drugs. It’s far less dangerous than players guzzling a fifth of alcohol and going out after a game.”
If you're wondering what Long is doing with his life now that he's retired -- seems like he's got a future in full-time social activism.