SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Grant Wistrom has always been a winner.
After almost dying of botulism as a child he grew to become a star football player.
He won two state championships as a defensive end and tight end in high school at Webb City, three national championships in college at Nebraska where his defensive play earned him the Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman, and then a nine year NFL career including six with the St. Louis Rams where he helped them to two Super Bowls, winning one.
But now the 43 year-old father-of-two has a new goal.
He's out to win one of the state's new medical marijuana business licenses.
"Some people have been surprised that I'm getting involved in this but not the people that know me," Wistrom said. "They know how I feel about medicines and healing yourself naturally."
According to surveys, the number one reason people use medical marijuana is for pain management, something Wistrom says NFL players live with daily because of all the violence collisions.
"My wife didn't need a calendar to know that training camp was coming up because she's like, 'You become a complete jerk,'" Wistrom said. "At that point in the year I know that I am progressively going to feel worse every day for the next eight months and I'm going to get in a car wreck 60-to-100 times every day."
In May the NFL and its players association agreed to look into medical marijuana as a type of pain management and an alternative to opioids.
"Society is way to heavily medicated," Wistrom said. "My best friend from college was a first-round draft pick, played in the NFL, had a back injury and got hooked on opiates and almost lost his life."
Over the years research on the effects of football has shown more and more evidence that the contact sport can cause long-term damage to he brain and Wistrom believes medical marijuana may be a part of the answer.
"Studies are just now being on this but the U.S. government holds a patent on marijuana on a neuroprotector (preserving or reducing the rate of neuronal loss over time)," Wistrom said. "My belief is there's just not money in it for the government until they tax it because you don't have big lobbyists like the pharmaceuticals do. It's been an outcast but now with this groundswell of grassroots support, this what the people want because it is a neuroprotector, it is an antioxidant, it does have anti-cancer agents, it does help reduce CTE that everybody is concerned about now with contact sports. We're just now finding out all the things this plant can do for us. It's not for everybody. It's not a one-size-fits-all-medicine. But it is a valuable plant that can be used to help a lot of people."
Incorporating his old jersey number, Wistrom's company is called "Revival 98" with a location already approved by the city near Kansas Expressway and Battlefield road in the former Heart of America Beverage Co.
If approved by the state, he wants his business to be seed-to-sale, with cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing at one location.
"Our dispensary is going to be attached to the cultivation center so while you're waiting to get your medicine you can see the whole process laid out in front of you," Wistrom said.
Wistrom is so passionate about his new endeavor that he sold his ownership in his old business, Crossfit Springfield, to pay for his significant investment in this new venture that still has plenty of uncertainty and detractors.
"We see alcohol as O.K. but this plant is not," he said. "The fact that it has been villainized for so long is a travesty. Things are changing. It's going to be available as a medicine to help people around here and I'm really excited about being a part of that."