James Hinchcliffe, Terrell Davis and Marcus Ericsson

INDIANAPOLIS – Two years ago, former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis suffered from chronic pain. He wanted to work out and stay in shape, but relentless joint pain and swelling in his knees made it difficult at best, unbearable at worst.

“My body wasn’t functioning the way I wanted it to,” Davis said. “I could work out, but it wasn’t desirable because of discomfort and pain, so I chose not to work out as much as I wanted to.”

Around that time, he and longtime friends Beau Wehrle and Megan Bushell were beginning to develop a performance drink containing CBD – cannabidiol, a natural compound found in cannabis plants.

“I was a skeptic that it wouldn’t work,” Davis said. “But also I was concerned about the stigma of cannabis. I’m an athlete. I work for the NFL Network. I can’t touch it. But I did a little homework and research and got up to speed with it, and it was clear that hemp-derived CBD was safe to try.”

Terrell DavisWhen he did, he noticed beneficial results almost immediately.

“The swelling started to go down,” Davis said. “The pain wasn’t there. When I would work out,

my recovery was better. I could bounce back faster. I felt more rejuvenated. I was able to push harder with it. As an ex-athlete, I realized that we’ve got to get this in more people’s hands. They’ve got to know about this.”

Davis, who led the Broncos to two Super Bowl victories and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, was on hand Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he, with his partners Wehrle and Bushell, announced an associate sponsorship of their performance drink, Defy, with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports cars in time for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 26.

Davis says he founded Defy to help people experiencing the same painful issues he experienced in the past.

“I have friends who are dealing with post-football issues with pain,” Davis said. “If we can show

them this concept works, we can save and change a lot of people’s lives. It’s been the most transformative ingredient I’ve witnessed in a long time. It’s all natural, no known side effects. When did I ever experience that in my career? Never.”

The biggest hurdle facing CBD generally and Defy specifically is misperception. The CBD in Defy is completely void of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating compound found in cannabis – so its drinkers won’t feel the euphoric high associated with THC.

The cannabis genus contains two types of plants – marijuana and hemp – and Defy’s CBD comes from hemp. The legality of CBD varies by state, but Defy is legal because its CBD comes from hemp and contains no THC.

“It’s a hemp-based product, which changes things dramatically from a legal perspective,” said Wehrle, Defy’s chief executive officer. “Hemp-based products are considered agricultural products. When most people think of CBD, there still is a little bit of THC in there. But our product uses a scientific, patented process to remove the THC. When we say zero THC, it is zero parts-per-million, and that’s tested and verified by an independent, third-party lab. When we created this product, it was intended to be forward-facing and mainstream. This is about health and wellness.”

After Davis began drinking Defy regularly, he noticed another benefit.

“I’d been having migraines since I was 9 years old,” he said. “I was taking anti-inflammatories twice a day, even after retiring. In researching CBD, I noticed it could help with migraines, so I decided to get off my migraine medication. It’s been over a year and a half now, and I’ve only had one migraine since. That is unheard of.”

The drink is available through www.drinkdefy.com, and Wehrle and Bushell expect it to be available soon in stores.

“You can order it online and have it shipped nationally,” said Bushell, Defy’s chief operating officer. “Additionally, we’re in the process of finalizing some distribution partnerships so you’ll be able find it in high-end gyms, convenience stores and grocery stores across the country.”

The sponsorship, which will last through the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, features the Defy logo on the sidepods and nose of Arrow SPM cars driven by James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson. It was approved by INDYCAR, which requires sponsors to meet stringent standards.

“They went through all the layers of testing to show it is a legitimate sports drink with CBD,” Schmidt said. “This is a booming market, so to be on the ground floor with them is very exciting.”