During his stellar nine-year career as an NFL offensive lineman, Rob Sims worked diligently in the sport’s out-of-the-spotlight trenches, doing the dirty work that generated success for his team.
The Northville resident’s mindset has not wavered as the co-founder (with former Detroit Lions teammate Calvin Johnson, a resident of Birmingham) of Primitiv, a less-than-two-year-old company that is dedicated to the advancement of cannabis as a form of elevated wellness.
“The cool thing about our ownership group is that we look at ourselves as humble leaders, humble servants,” said Sims. “There isn’t one job in our business me or Calvin has not attempted. We trim plants, mop floors, tag products on the way out and we’ve even assisted customers at our retail space. We’ve done it all.
“This way, if there are moments of struggle, we can say to our team, ‘We understand what you’re going through’.”
Playing through the pain
Few people on the planet can relate to what Sims and Johnson went through during their physically-taxing playing days when their bodies endured collisions that created unspeakable aches and pain.
Sims’ early encounters with cannabis emerged in 2008 when he suffered a torn left pectoral muscle that wiped out his entire season.
“I remember coming out of surgery and being offered a lot of Vicodin with directions to take them whenever I felt pain,” Sims recounted. “For me, that wasn’t the way I wanted to go. I was 25 years old, I knew I was going to be experiencing pain not only the rest of that season, but the rest of my career and I didn’t want (Vicodin) for my life and my future. I wanted to find something that didn’t have addictive properties.”
After talking to peers — “In the NFL, you kind of bond with guys you play with about how to take care of your body,” he said — Sims was introduced to cannabis as a pain reliever. The results could not have been more exemplary.
“I came back quicker and stronger the following season and my body was in better shape,” he said.
Beginning with the 2010 NFL season, Sims played 80 consecutive games for the Lions — an experience that cemented his belief in the natural plant that came with hard-to-shed stigmas. He used the drug when needed throughout the remainder of his career — and still uses it today to help relieve the bone-to-bone agony his NFL career created.
Business in his blood
Sims embraced entrepreneurial dreams long before he retired from professional football in 2015. The nephew of a Ford dealer, he instinctively rationalized that his 2010 trade from Seattle to Detroit (The Motor City) would lead to a post-NFL future in the automotive industry.
After realizing the car industry wasn’t for him, he turned to real estate, diving head first into a title company and working with the southeast-Michigan ReMax brand.
“I received a crash course on acquiring businesses, owning businesses,” he said. “Calvin was one of my early investors, thankfully, in those projects, and we had the same vision when it came to founding Primitiv.”
The former teammates and forever friends established a mid-Michigan organic growing operation and opened a retail store in Niles, Michigan, with plans to expand to other states in the very-near future.
Never content to settle, they created a merchandise line that includes Primitiv apparel (including slick sweatshirts, jerseys and even helmets that are autographed by the company’s owners), cannabis-related accessories and headgear.
“It’s been a lot of fun for us,” Sims said. “We’re extremely ambitious in everything we do. With this being our second arena, so to speak, and running a new startup in this industry, we can do some fun things to help build the brand.”
Earlier this year Sims and Johnson launched Primitiv Performance, a product line that, according to its website, “will utilize a proprietary blend of electrolytes, vitamins and plant-based nutrients to help athletes living an active lifestyle rehydrate, recover and boost their immune system before, during or after a workout.”
More than money
The business partners have much larger goals than sales, Sims emphasized, including changing the stigmas attached to the cannabis industry and working with researchers to discover how cannabis can potentially ease the effects of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a brain disease diagnosed in a growing percentage of former NFL players after their deaths.
“One of the biggest things we want to do is help change the stigmas that are attached to the plant that has done so much to improve our quality of life,” Sims said. “It gets a bad rap. Calvin and I know what it’s done for us — allowed us to play a long time at a very, very high level and relieve our post-NFL career pain. We want other people with chronic pain to experience what we have.”
Sims and Johnson are also part of a consortium with the International Phytomedicines Institute at Harvard University, working to expand research on the health benefits of cannabis on a wide range of medical conditions, including chronic pain, CTE and cancer treatment.
If you have an idea for a good-news feature article for SocialHouseNews.com, please contact Ed Wright at 734-664-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.