Podcast Episode 53

Former NFL Quarterback Jake Plummer Talks Medicinal Mushrooms & Mental Health

Jake Plummer | 56 Minutes | August 2, 2022


In today’s episode, we speak with Jake Plummer who is excited to spread the word about how to feel better physically and mentally.

Jake is a former Pro-Bowl NFL Quarterback who led the Denver Broncos to the 2005 AFC Championship Game. He currently works with UMBO Mushrooms, and owns MyCOLove Farm, where he is considered the “Jake-of-all-trades.” Since retiring in 2007, Jake has been a longtime advocate of using CBD and medicinal marijuana to treat pain and inflammation. More recently, he’s been a proponent of functional mushrooms, a form of non-psychedelic fungi with many purported health benefits.

Listen as Jake talks about the importance of reintroducing fungi to the human diet, what it’s like playing professional football today, and finding a new purpose after retiring from the NFL.

Watch the podcast episode:

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Notes & Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone, my name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. In today’s episode, we’re speaking one of my all-time favorite athletes, Jake Plummer, a former Pro-Bowl NFL quarterback who led the Denver Broncos to the AFC Championship Game in 2005. Jake retired with 2007 with a mission to find his purpose and to do more in life. Jake has been a long-time advocates of CBD and medicinal marijuana used to treat pain and inflammation. Today, he has found a new fountain of youth through functional mushrooms, which are touted as non-psychedelic fungi with health benefits. He has partnered with Umbo Mushrooms, and he owns his own mushroom farm in Fort Lupton called MyCOLove Farm where he produces high-quality mushrooms for culinary and medicinal use.

Join us today a we chat with Jake about his time as a pro athlete and how functional mushrooms have reshaped his life, mindset, and his purpose.

And there he is! Good morning!

Jake Plummer: Hey, how you doing, Kirk? Thanks for that intro. That was nice.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m a little out of breath.

Jake Plummer: You did a good job. Sounded good. I’m like, “Wow! Cool. Doing a lot of fun stuff.”

Kirk Bachmann: It’s so good to see you. I can’t lie; I’m pretty excited about this. Long-time fan. Long-time sports fanatic. You’re in Boulder, right? You’re sitting just right down the road from here.

Jake Plummer: Yeah. Been in Boulder almost 10 years. When I played ball in Denver, we’d come up to Boulder once in a while. As people know, when I retired, I took off and lived up in north Idaho for about five years. I married a Colorado native from Fort Morgan. When we were looking to relocate, we chose to come back to Boulder. I’m really happy where I’m at. I’ve really enjoyed living here. As the younger kids have gotten a little older, I’ve been getting out a little more, making some big connections with the likes of you, Kirk, and a lot of other really awesome people that are doing some really cool stuff in the area. Making not just themselves better, but the world around them also better.

The Marshall Fire Response

Kirk Bachmann: That’s great. Well said. So glad you’re here in Boulder. We share some space together.

Again, I’m super, super excited to chat today. We talked about it earlier. Thank you, also, because we ironically met very subtly right after the terrible Marshall Fires here at the end of the year in Colorado. Several of us came together and started preparing a bunch of meals for those impacted by the fire. You provided so much food, mostly mushrooms. Nobody knows that. There weren’t press releases on any of that. Thank you. Thank you. No one even knew who the hippie was with all the mushrooms when you walked in that morning. Just so appreciate that humility and that giving back to the community. That was a tough time.

Jake Plummer: Yeah, that was a wild time. I’d just taken over that farm for only a couple months. Me and my buddy, Leo, we were growing a lot of lion’s mane and we had an exorbitant amount that had fruited and that we harvested right before Christmas. I hate wasting food, and Donna Merten who runs FED Boulder, she’s all about food use and zero waste. I’d become friends with her, was selling her some mushrooms. I said, “I don’t know what to do with these mushrooms.” She said, “We can make them into food.”

So I brought them up. That was a really impactful year, 2021. To be able to make sure that those mushrooms that were grown with a lot of love – as the name of our farm, MyCOLove, says, we put a lot of love and a lot of intent into those mushrooms we’re growing – to be fully packed full of everything that is good for you, mostly love. It was nice to be able to give to that. And it was awesome to see the community really gather, and so many people there in her kitchen that were cutting bread, and making lasagna, and cleaning dishes, and hauling in all the food that was getting donated from so many farms and stores. It was really cool to be a part of that.

You too, hats off to you to be involved to help make sure we were providing warm, wholesome, organic, nutritional food in a trying time like that.

A Football Journey

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. A big shout out to my buddy, Andy Clark from Moxie Bread Company, who was hanging with us the whole time. It’s clearly obvious that so many of us Coloradoans and Boulderites, we love you from your days as a Denver Bronco quarterback. It’s so great to know you with no pads on.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t – I love the storytelling. You were selected by the Arizona Cardinals, second round NFL draft. Spent six seasons with them. Then you came to our beloved Broncos. I’m also a big Pac-12 fan, used to be the Pac-10. You originally came from Idaho, played ball at Arizona State. My sister went there, but I went to Oregon. Sorry, I’m a Duck, always. Go Ducks! You were a first team All-American 1996. They called you Jake the Snake. You finished third in the Heisman Trophy that year. Absolutely unbelievable.

For those listeners who aren’t familiar, the Heisman Trophy names the best player in college football, as I recall, because my Ducks went 5-6, the Sun Devils went 11-1 that season, culminated by the Rose Bowl. I think you were Pac-10 player of the year that year. Again, it’s so amazing. I have to say Congratulations. Your humility is amazing. It’s great to just think back on that time.

If you could, I’d love it if you could take us back to high school and then to college. I can’t imagine what this must have felt like. What was that like when you realized that you had this crazy, amazing talent and that you were more than likely not only going to play college football, but that you were more than likely going to go to the NFL? Is it nerve-wracking? Is it incredible excitement? Did you start dreaming about that as a kid? Take us back a little bit.

Jake Plummer: It’s been an amazing journey, and definitely one that has put me on the path that I’m on now. As I learn more and live in this area of a lot of enlightened, very spiritual people, you kind of understand that you want to say you’re in control of things, but really sometimes you’re not. You’re only in control of what you put out there as thoughts, as dreams, as actions, as words. As I look back on my career, where I started and where I’ve come to now, through that whole trajectory, a lot of things just aligned for me. A lot of things happened that were mostly positive. Very little negative things. Very little hardships or setbacks.

It was all just a dream that started when I was a little kid and I wanted to play in a Super Bowl. My brothers were super crazy sports fanatics. We were always watching Monday Night football and tuning into the games. I can remember doing a project in grade school, I think second or third grade. I had this dream where I went into this tunnel and found a treasure of old jerseys, and one of them was a Marcus Allen from the Raiders, one of his jerseys. I had this thought, “I’m going to play wide receiver in the NFL and win a Super Bowl.” I wrote it out in this project. Little did I know that those words and that thought had so much intent and power.

It ended up being something that I wasn’t, in this day and age, driven to put in the 10,000 hours. The 10,000 hour rule. To really hone in on one craft and play football and work on being a quarterback. I did everything. I played every sport known to man. I played games that we invented in the driveway with my brothers. But all along the way, I had this little dream to be in the NFL. Just really enjoyed playing sports. I really enjoyed the competitive nature of it. I loved the game of it. I love to play. It didn’t even need to be organized. It could just be me and two buddies. One’s a quarterback, one’s a DB, one’s a receiver, and we’d go out and throw the rock. That’s how I got better. That’s how I ended up getting to where I am, by constantly moving, and playing, and staying active, and climbing trees. It helped to grow up in Idaho, where there was a lot of space to go out and explore. Grow up in central Idaho, the Sawtooth Mountains to spend some time up there climbing trees and hiking into the high peaks, and climbing on boulders, and skipping rocks. I was just very active.

But all along the way, I figured sports were going to be a way for me to always have an outlet. As a young boy growing up with two older brothers, our dad left when I was younger. Going through those growing pains and all those things you don’t know how to process as a young kid. Sports were one outlet for me that kept me from [trouble]. I still got in trouble some out of the game, but most of the time it kept me from getting into more trouble, because I would have been bored looking for something to do. Sports were really big.

Growing up in Idaho, it wasn’t known for a lot of D1 athletes or putting out a lot of high-level athletes every year. I was the only athlete that got a D1 scholarship that year. Some other kids went and played at some other levels, but that was before BSU did really well and they started pumping out a lot of athletes.

High school was a blast. At every level I played in, junior high we played in the city championship. High school, we won a state championship and then lost the next year. Somehow, some way, I realized I was a leader. Not a leader as in telling people what to do, but a leader in how I presented myself to a group of individuals with the expectation and optimism of going out and having fun and playing hard and giving it your all, 100 percent heart and effort. It can usually result in good things. So along the way, it did.

At every level, it happened. I almost played for a Super Bowl in ‘05 with the Broncos. We were one game away. In college, played in the Rose Bowl, which really had national title implications. If we’d have one that, we’d have been 12-0 and outright national champs.

That leads me to Bruce Snyder, who was the coach at ASU that recruited me out of Capital High School. He said, “If you come to ASU, I think we have a shot at a national title.” He was the only coach in the nation that said that. That was the determining factor for me, because I wasn’t going to go and just be another player in line at a Florida or USC that would be long forgotten after the next Heisman candidate came in four years later. I wanted to go somewhere where I could leave an impression, so ASU was that school.

Went there and had a few tough years, but it culminated in the effort, the work, and the camaraderie and the optimism and the continual striving to be our best. We almost won a national title. Those memories are so strong, and the memories that not only I hold and my teammates hold, but that whole community. Like you, a Pac-12 fan, Pac-10 at the time, I bumped into so many people who stayed up late and watched that Nebraska-Arizona State game. They were like, “Wow!” Then they were intrigued by what we were doing. Our team that year was…it was a magical season. To be in the Heisman Trophy finalists, to be third on that list, I was sitting there scratching my head. “Holy smokes! Is this for real?”

All along the way, there was never a moment where I left where I was at to be dreaming about the NFL. I wasn’t playing hard in high school so I could go to college so I could make it to the NFL. I was playing hard in high school for the Capital Eagles because I wanted my team to do well. I was doing it for the guys next to me. I was doing it because I loved the coach. I was doing it for the pride of our school and our colors.

When I got to ASU, I realized, “Whoa! I’m one step closer now. College is the next step to going to the pros.” But it wasn’t the pros that motivated me. I wasn’t working out and being a leader so I could be in the NFL. I was doing it because I wanted to win that national title. As Ram Dass says, “Be here now.” I was in it. I was in that moment, always. Who cares about the NFL? I can’t do anything about that. But what I can do now is go play my ass off, lead these guys, and do whatever I can to win.

So that’s how I always approached it. Sure enough, as time went, after my junior year was over, someone asked me if I was going to come out into the draft. I was like, “Are you crazy? I got another season here. I’ve got to win a national title.”

That whole process was so fun. I was pretty much a yokel from Idaho. I didn’t know much about what I was doing. I was just down. “Wow! I’m at a big D1 school playing ball.” I came out of high school at 6’2”, 172 pounds. I wasn’t a weight room addict. I wasn’t taking lessons from a QB guru on the weekends between baseball practice. I was playing baseball, and then coming home and throwing the rock with my brother. I was shooting hoops at the neighbors. I was just always playing and really working on all skill sets.

That opportunity to get drafted after my senior year was a phenomenal moment. Then to get drafted to the Arizona Cardinals and be an NFL football player, and realized, “Wow! Now my dream really could happen!” This old childhood dream could actually come to fruition. To get that close with Denver was amazing. I don’t have any hard feelings or regrets. I don’t feel weird when the ASU championship game comes around and have any self-pity. I was balling my ass off, trying to do what I could do for me team. We almost made it. That little dream almost came true.

It set me up for really a purpose-driven life, to go out and know that if I set my mind to something and I have the right people around me. I can create an environment of hard work and ethics and visions and goals and passion. I think we can do anything. I think anything I get involved with can be successful. That’s what a lot of us coming out of league fail to remember. We were the best at what we did. Before there were 32 teams, I was one of the 30 best quarterbacks in the entire world. When you take 7 billion people at the time, however many there were then. That’s such a small percentage. We set our minds to something and we do that, what else could we accomplish if we set our minds on other things? Changing the world through health and wellness. Helping the environment get cleaned up. Whatever it is. To be the best father you can be. If you really put all that effort, time, energy and thought into it, we’re capable of doing anything, as humans.

It’s been a great career, great time. I loved playing here for Denver because we really had an opportunity to go play in the Super Bowl every year. It was realistic. With the Cardinals, we had one good year in ‘98. It was great, but then we struggled. We let go of a lot of older, foundational, key players to that team. Being here with the Broncos was so fun. The fans were, at times, tough. They really were not happy with anything but success. But I think they understood that I was putting in all effort, 100 percent effort out there. I was doing my bet.

As time’s gone since being retired, I come across the fans here, and it’s always, always a good time. They’re always very thankful for what I did, how I played, and how I represented myself. To this day, still, retiring from the NFL, I didn’t really care how many rings I had. I just wanted to feel respected and feel that people respected what I did and enjoyed how I played the game.

Kirk Bachmann: I love it. You’re totally a storyteller. Thank you for that. I love the comment about being a great father and all of these other things you’re thinking about. I’ll kind of jump there and take you a little bit forward.

You led the Cardinals to their first post-season victory in something like 50 years your first year there. Then, of course in 2005, you’re named to the Pro-Bowl. Phenomenal success with the Broncos. Maybe catch us up, then. What was that decade like? That dreams kind of coming true. A little bit more pressure from the fans, like you mentioned. You’re still having fun. I’d love you to talk about that decade.

Has the game changed, in your mind? My 11-year-old boy was with me at the Marshall Fires, and so I showed him a picture of you and said, “Hey, we’re going to talk today.” He wanted to know, is the game different today? Believe it or not, he asked that. And then secondly, what’s the coolest thing that happened to you during the time that you were a quarterback?

How the Game has Changed

Jake Plummer: Man. Great questions. Hard to answer. Let me start there and go back to the decade.

The game has changed in a way that they are trying to protect the players in a violent, really brutal game. I think their efforts are to be applauded. But guys are still going to leave this game with injuries and stuff that they won’t even feel until they are down their careers, down in their lives later on. You can have arthritis from all the inflammation and injuries. Dealing with the research and the knowledge behind traumatic brain injuries, even mild traumatic brain injuries. You realize, the game has changed. They are trying to make it safer.

I really enjoy the abilities they’ve given different styles of athletes to now find a place in the game. Back in the day, for example, Jalen Hurts, I think it is, a kid from Alabama, probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance to play five years ago, let along a few years back. Now he comes in and they’ve found ways to put these athletes on the field. I think back to Allen Iverson, who was a phenomenal athlete, one of the greatest basketball players ever. Small guy. If you watch his high school football highlights: oh my God, the guy was unbelievable! He would have had a place in the NFL. There are places now for these little lightning bolt play-makers to come out and excite the fans. They’ve opened it up. They’ve taken away a lot of the violent hits, where if you’re going across the middle, and I throw a ball up high. I would cringe, because I had guys that would go get it, because they wanted me to succeed just as well as I wanted them, but they were taking shots from helmets in their ribs that they are feeling that now. They’ve changed that. I think that’s good. Defensive-less [sic] players should not be abused and beat up like that.

They take care of the quarterback a lot more. If they throw and you’re anywhere near them, you can’t touch them. You can go by and tap them, but I used to throw, guys would take a couple of steps, and then they would pound me. They loved to try to hurt me, because I was 195 pounds with a quick sharp tongue if they had anything to say about it. They loved to try to get me. I would make them look really silly sometimes, once they go their emotions going. To make a quick move, and they’d bash into their teammate. Now they’ve got to live that down on Monday watching film. They missed me and they took out their teammate, maybe even blew his knee out or injured him.

The game’s changed in a way that’s helping the fans and even the young players understand that, “This game is not that dangerous.” Really, it is. If you’re going to play football, you’re going to get injured. You’re going to have injuries. I never was carted off the field in ten years. I never stopped play and had to have my mom sit through a commercial break while I was laying there motionless. I take a lot of pride in that, but I also think, “God, I should have taken some games off.” Because I was hurting a lot of times, whether it was a rib or a hip or a wrist or a shoulder. I was in pain a lot. But I was so driven to be there for my team that I stayed out there.

The game is still violent. The game is still a brutal sport. I enjoy it. I don’t watch a lot any more. I don’t spend a lot of time on TV sets that much at all anymore. But I pay attention. I know what’s going on. I like that they are allowing for a lot more of an explosive game. I just feel sorry for the defensive players. It’s got to be hard as hell to stop anybody these days. That’s how it’s changed in my eyes.

And now that it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s insane how much these players make and what’s going on with that. I hope it doesn’t crumble some day. Ultimately, those things will take a hit at some point.

Memories and Moments of Influence

Some of the ultimate moments or some memories. There are so many. I think the funnest [sic] part from me was getting to meet other celebrities. Out and about, getting asked to come to these events, to the likes of getting to sit down at a dinner table with eight people and one of them was Muhammad Ali. Coming back the next year, walking into the room, looking over, and Muhammad sees me and he gives me a “Hey, it’s you!” I’m like, “Hey, Wow! Muhammad Ali just remembered me.” That kind of stuff.

Golfing at a golf tournament with Phil Mickelson and Billy Crystal and Bill Russell. Bill Russell’s got his arms around me and Billy Crystal, and we’re sitting there laughing at Phil because he hit a bad shot out of the sand. Those are things that stand out. They are just normal people, too, but in light of who they represent, they are phenomenal icons to the sport. For me to be rubbing elbows and hanging out with those kind of people, those are a lot of the fun memories I have.

Then, again, even one just recent thing, an email that came across to Umbo, our mushroom company, somebody reached out. They are talking about their mother who was a huge fan of mine. She didn’t necessarily like football, but she loved me and who I was and what I represented and who I stood for. She had a Jake Plummer jersey. When she passed away, they buried her wearing that jersey.

Kirk Bachmann: Wow! Wow!

Jake Plummer: What? I get the chills, and I feel like crying. What? That’s so crazy that somebody felt that strongly about me and they never even met me or sat with me in person. They just felt my energy from that far.

Those kind of things, that gift that you hold in your hand as an athlete or as a person of notoriety to really change how people feel, to influence them positively. I really always try to do my best to leave someone lighter, to leave someone happier when I met them. Even though I may have been in a hurry to get home to see my family who I haven’t seen in three weeks, I still try to stop and sign those autographs. At some point, I would say, “Sorry, I’ve got to go.” There would always be someone who would call me an a-hole or yell at me, but it was like, “I’ve got to go home and be with my family. You can take that with you wherever you want to go.”

Those were really some of the best times and moments, how much of an effect I could have just by being kind and giving 30 seconds or a minute of my life in a grocery store line to acknowledge another human’s existence and let them know that I was on a pedestal. I was put there, and was a quarterback, but I could still relate to humans at a compassionate level. Those were really some great moments and times that I learned through that decade of playing in the pros. Being in that position as quarterback, you’re the face of a franchise. The owner is the number one person. Then the quarterback is the number two, because they will fire a head coach and retain the quarterback on the team. You have to embody that and be a leader and be really cognizant and aware of how you carry yourself.

For ten years, it was tough at times, because everybody likes to go out and cut loose and enjoy their friends, and be at a concert or party and having beers and whatever. You realize that people are watching. Everywhere, people are watching. That was one thing that was sometimes tough. Everywhere I went, there were people watching me. It caused me to have a little social anxiety post-career. I got over that. I’m fine now.

That ten years, in that decade, with the Cardinals was super fun. 50 years since they won a playoff game. I often tease and say things like, “That was like a Super Bowl win for me.” To take that team and defeat Dallas down there and then go play the Minnesota Vikings in the first playoff victory in 50 years. It’s equitable or similar to what a Super Bowl victory would do for a franchise. A vote passed that year for the Cardinals to get a new stadium. That’s why they are even still in Arizona because of that ‘98 season. That’s not just me, but a group of amazing men and great coaches and staff that really believed that year that we could do it. Against all odds, we won some amazing games. That season, ‘98, was phenomenal. We had so many comeback victories. It was a hell of a ride and a lot of fun.

Then getting to the Broncos like I said, after four struggling years with the Cardinals was really nice. To be in a facility where everything they did was around the players. Every comfort we needed. Everything we needed done. Anything we wanted was provided for by Mr. Bowlen because he knew we could have the greatest administration and all these great people doing work and the greatest training staff, but if you didn’t have your players that were content and happy and able to focus on what we were there to do – and that was to be the best we could be – then you wouldn’t be able to reach those levels that we were able to reach. It was really fun to play for an owner like that who had such a connection to the players, and who understood to take care of them. Let’s take care of them, feed them well, give them everything they need to make sure they’re happy and working hard, and want to work hard for the owner and the organization.

Those four years were phenomenal, but ten years there, that was time to go. What many people don’t know, year nine when we went to the AC Championship Game, had we gone to the Super Bowl and won that game, I was going to retire right then. I was going to retire, even possibly, on stage – with the MVP trophy was my vision I had – I was done. That was what I came for. They paid me way more than I ever expected to be paid. My body was hurting. Mentally, I was dragging. I was ready to go. I came back that tenth year and gave it my all. I thought I was giving everything I had. The head coach and the organization felt differently. I have no grudges with that. I’ve buried the hatchet with Shanahan . We talk. We meet up once in a while. He’s a great man who did great things for my career and many, many others. That was a great opportunity. I was ready to go after year nine. Got in year ten, and then it was time to go for me.

Life After Football

Kirk Bachmann: I’m going to segue a little bit, because you said a lot of really cool things. A little bit off script. Your comments about signing all those autographs, but in your mind you’re trying to get home to the family. My buddy, Andy Clark, who I mentioned earlier, we were talking the other day at our sons’ baseball game. We were going back to the pandemic. “Wow! What just happened?” Two years, three years, whatever. He made a really important comment. He said that what he learned coming out of the pandemic is that the energy that he wants to put out needs to be for people and for issues that he really, really cares about. There’s a lot of noise every single day.

After you retired and you had all that time with your family and such, did you have a similar phenomena? This will lead us into some of the work you’re doing right now. Are you focusing your energy as much as you possibly can on matters that are important to you? Not necessarily the owner or the coach or the NFL or anybody else. It’s really what’s important to Jake?

Jake Plummer: When I retired, a lot of things were behind that. One, my body was beat up, but also I missed my family. I missed being around my mom. It seemed like everybody that was getting married was getting married in August and I’m like, “Sorry, I can’t come. I’m in training camp.” So I was missing out. I felt like I was missing out on things.

When I retired, I got a lot of time with family, and spent some time in the mountains backpacking. Without the worry of having to stay safe so I’d come back ready to go play for the six months. I really enjoyed that part of it. I got married. I traveled around the world to see places. I could have traveled, but there’s only a small window there to travel and we’re back into training. I was really dedicated and in the moment when I was playing football, so when I retired, it gave me the opportunity to do some stuff for myself.

I went straight from high school as a starter as a freshman to starter as a rookie. I had 14 years of continual progression in my career. It was time for me to take a break.

I still did some fun stuff. I moved to Sandpoint, Idaho. I delivered Meals on Wheels for the senior center and helped around there cleaning up stuff. Funny story there: the lady that ran the place, she didn’t know who I was. I went in and said, “Is there anything I can do?”

“Well, we’ve got all these needles in the front yard and some raking.” So I went and raked it and stuff. While I was raking, someone came in and was like, “Do you know who that is?” She was like, “No.” “That’s Jake Plummer.” Blah, blah, blah.

I came back in, she was apologetic. “I’m so sorry I had you rake the leaves.” I was like, “No, that’s not a problem. I asked you what could I do, and you told me. Thank you.”

I got into doing some of that. I coached a little bit of high school football. And then, what I really wanted to do was have kids and have a family. Football was something that I felt, had I had a family during that, I remember teammates who would leave when their child was born during training camp. They’d be back the next day. I was like, “What are you doing here?”

“I’ve got to get back. Coach said get back.”

“Yo! Man! You just had a baby! That’s an important time. This is not that important.”

So I didn’t want to do that during my career. When I got into that and baby came a couple years after retiring, my first born, I just dove into being a dad and enjoying those moments. I did lose some of what I really loved to do through that time of becoming a parent. That was my own fault for not staying up on self-love and self-care to continue to evolve, learn things, get out. To get out and do thing. I became this homebody parent.

I actually found myself being in a little bit of a depression where I wasn’t doing great things. That transition, for athletes, is really hard. You’re at the top of your game. You’re at the pinnacle where people are screaming your name and wanting autographs. You go to the crowded restaurant and it’s an hour-and-a-half wait, and you get a table like that. Now you’re off of that, and you’re back in the hour-and-a-half wait, and no one recognizes you. You’re off into normal society. It can be very hard if you don’t channel that energy and that power you have into something productive.

I really learned that, and I’ve been able to have some great opportunities post-career. Still involved with teaching kids. If anybody has kids that want to throw a football, I’m always game to go out and toss the rock. I’m a little less now about, “This is how you hold it and your food should be here. And when you throw, you’re elbow here.” I’m more about, “What are you up to? What do you do on the side of playing football?”

“Nothing.”

“Come on, you’ve got to do something.”

“Play video games.”

“Active. What do you do active?”

“Uh.”

“Go get a skateboard.”

“My mom won’t let me have a skateboard. I could hurt myself and not play football.”

“I used to skateboard when I was playing football in the NFL. Don’t let that stop you. You have to live.” I more or less try to teach kids that life is so grand, that to focus on one thing. I didn’t focus on quarterbacking to become a quarterback. Football was number three on my list of important things in my life. It was something I loved and was passionate about, but it wasn’t me. It wasn’t who I was. It wasn’t the defining factor that made me who I am. It’s a large part of me. I try to encourage kids to find other hobbies and have things to do and games to play.

Other than that, really just trying to be out and about as a recognizable person to leave people a little lighter when you find them. Spread a little bit of love and joy, and engage with people. Especially now, at the stage I’m at, realizing how important connections are. Connections to people to share your visions and to hear theirs. To share your stories, to meet someone else through that connection. You just never know who you might meet that will change your life or knock you off your feet. Or have something to have the next big thing to get involved with.

CBD Advocacy

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. So Jake, you’re a supporter of using CBD and medicinal marijuana to help alleviate pain. I don’t know all the details, but I don’t believe the NFL supports the use of THC and other synthetic cannabinoids and such. We do know that CBD, for some, myself included, can help reduce chronic pain. It’s anti-inflammatory. It’s an antioxidant. I’ve seen it. I had a little bout with West Nile not too long ago. Without CBD, my wife would have gone crazy. It really had that calming effect on my anxiety. Even my folks, I feel so bad sometimes, the chronic pain that people have to go through just to get through the day.

Do you believe that CBD will ever be endorsed or supported by the NFL to help with some of this chronic pain?

Jake Plummer: I think they have opened up that door to using CBD. It’s THC that they’re still concerned about. For whatever reason, I don’t know why. I really was not a huge proponent of it when I was playing, although I did use it once in a while post-game or during the summer and concert or just to relax sometimes, to get a good night’s sleep. It didn’t really come into my life until I moved back down here.

Then I started using it for a different purpose, and that was for pain and inflammation. I had really bad headaches that would come randomly. Any day, I’d just wake up and have this burning, pulsing pain behind my eyeballs. Obviously, it was something from what I put my my body through for all those years. CBD was something that took that away, along with using THC and finding out the balance that worked for me.

That was right around when marijuana was decriminalized here in Colorado. Right around then, Charlotte’s Web reached out through Ryan Kingsbury, who worked for them. Had an idea, and it was really birthed around helping these mothers. Heather Jackson, who ran the Realm of Caring, has a son who had Dravet Syndrome and Paige Figi who is the mother of Charlotte who Charlotte’s Web was named after. They had been told, Sorry by our western medical practitioners and said, “We can offer hospice.” These mother’s didn’t give up. They kept fighting. Mother’s came from other states to Colorado. It wasn’t legal yet, but it was accepted in a community.

We joined their forces as football players. It was Ryan Kingsbury who really was the driving force behind this idea. When the bright lights fade. When they do, no one really sees me anymore unless I’m on TV or out and about in public. But we all go through these assimilations. We also deal with a lot of issues of injuries and pain. We don’t have a training staff to go check on us and get us soft tissue and treatment every day like we did when we were playing. So guys suffer a lot, from a lot of pain, a lot of regret, too. A lot of them don’t walk away from the game, like me. A lot of social anxiety, like myself. I was always thinking people were looking at me because I got recognized so much that I couldn’t go anywhere. These things build up, and we’re not really taught how to deal with them.

There’s some stuff that the NFL provides, but when you’re spit out from the league and they say, “You’re no good. We’re going to cut you and bring in a cheaper, younger version of you,” you really don’t want to go back to them for help. A lot of players fall into this typical bad cycle that keeps them in depression. They get divorced. They file for bankruptcy. Suicidal thoughts. I’ve got a lot of buddies that are still to this day struggling with their injuries.

It gave us a chance to come and join forces with these mothers and then people started listening. Charlotte’s Web became a very well-known brand. Now hemp oil, CBD oil, is sold at Circle K and airport kiosks. It was the NFL players that helped. We didn’t do all the ground work. It was those mothers that fought on Capitol Hill and fought legislation because they refused to let someone in government tell them that they couldn’t give their kids something that helped them not have seizures, help them thrive, and help them become a child again and have a life. It was really, really powerful.

It was extremely powerful to be involved with that and to go, “Wait? Back in the ‘30s, some white dude with money decided to make marijuana and hemp a Schedule 1 level on the drug schedule, the same as heroin and crack cocaine, with no medicinal value. Wow! This is ridiculous.” We’ve shifted that.

Now the NFL has opened up a little bit more to the use of CBD, because there’s no psychotropic effects. There’s minimal amounts of THC. Like any good medicine, I believe that they work together at whole spectrums. You can’t take the THC out and still get the benefit of the CBD as much as if you leave it in. It’s in such small amounts that you’re not going to get high using CBD. We fought this battle for years on the radio. “You’re not going to get high. You’re not going to feel any type of weirdness.”

So many people would call me after I spread the word and advocated, and they would thank me for the fact that they were getting a good night’s sleep. It started right there. The first thing they would always say is, “Man. I’ve been sleeping so good.” What we do when we sleep is we recover. Our body has a chance to chill and relax and start recovering. Our cells regenerate and our brain takes a break. it’s the first step toward healing, getting a good night’s rest. Then you start feeling the anxiety going away. Then you start feeling the appreciation for the little things in life. All of us a sudden, you’re taking your dog for a walk and whistling and going, “Holy smokes! A month ago, I was on the couch considering taking my life. Now I’m at the dog park meeting somebody and getting a connection. Wow! Okay. Life is good.”

It was really an amazing opportunity to be one of the guys involved in that. It’s put me onto the path I’m on now. I think the NFL – I pushed hard with them as the main guy representing the players. Jeff Miller, the head of the health part of the NFL, was like, “Hey, guys, you’ve got to check this out.” They never did until it became acceptable in other sports. Before, Federally, hemp was able to be transported across state lines. Now they have decriminalized hemp, just hemp, federally, where THC is still listed as a Schedule 1.

Things will change. I realized then, “Wow! Nature holds all the keys.” I already knew, because my mom gave us echinacea, garlic and honey, and ginseng. We were pretty naturopathic, holistic people growing up. Some would call us hippies, but we just knew the earth provides. Mother natures provides everything we need if we just knock these walls and these boundaries down that really make no sense at all. Plants and nature, there is so much medicine out there.

That was really an amazing journey to go on. What a fun time to hear people call me or emailing me saying their life has changed because I said something about CBD and they gave it a chance. It was very empowering, very humbling to hear that.

An Awareness of Mushrooms

Kirk Bachmann: You found mushrooms during the pandemic. From what I read, they’ve changed how you view food, medicine, healing, even mindset, or a way to think about ourselves, yourself, and consequently, the world and those around you. I believe you partnered with a few people – Rashad Evans, Del Jolly – and you’ve got Umbo going, focusing on functional mushrooms. Then you’ve started your own farming company, MyCOLove. We’ll go through that, but tell us about the origin of that name, MyCOLove Farm.

Jake Plummer: I just want to say one thing, and it’s not correcting you, but it’s letting you know how to phrase it. Mushrooms found me. Like anything, like treasures, people are out seeking treasurers or finding rocks, I believe they find you when the time is right. You stumble upon them.

Del Jolly was the one who gave me some tinctures pre-pandemic. Where I first met Rashad Evans. When I took those tinctures, I felt the difference. Things changed. I was resting better. I was feeling less stress. I was able to have a cat in the house. My allergies were not that bad. They have actually since gone away, basically.

Mushrooms and their adaptogenic effects and their immuno-modulating effects are amazing. They really help you build a strong immune system. I think if we all have strong immune systems, you’re less susceptible to all of the allergens, toxins, and chemicals that we’re breathing in everyday. In a way, they are real preventive. For me, it isn’t like I’m going to take this mushroom tincture and immediately feel this response. Some people will do that if they try our tinctures or our products. “Jake’s crazy, this isn’t helping.”

But if you continue to do it and then you start taking stock of how they are making you feel, and also understand that this is preventative medicine. It’s helping your body regain balance. It’s helping put your hormones back in balance. These are long tested and used modalities from eastern medicine. In Asia, mushrooms have been part of the healing culture there for thousands of years.

Just a little thing there. They found me. So now, through that, going out foraging with Del and then stumbling upon mushrooms and snakes and climbing trees again and getting out in nature, I got reintroduced to myself as a ten-year-old. I’ve read many times and have seen if you’re struggling as a 40-year-old, try to think back to what you used to like to do when you were 10, 11, 12 years old. Those were the times when you were the freest, you were still able to go explore and push it a little bit. What you did back then is what you should go revisit. That’s what I did. I started doing more art, going out in nature more, riding my bike, and playing. Being playful. Jumping on a trampoline, doing flips. Giggling with my kids. Losing that adult stuff that we get. We become dolts when we turn into adults, I think. You lose that playfulness.

Del really was a catalyst behind not only Charlotte’s Web, where I met him, but then with this idea to start Umbo as mushrooms are becoming more prevalent. My first little dip into the mushrooms was Four Sigmatic, the coffee that they made with mushrooms. I was like, “Wow, this is really good!” I’d drink the coffee, I wouldn’t have the jitters, my stomach wouldn’t bother me, and I’m thinking, “Man, is that the lion’s mane that they’re putting in here?” Sure enough, did some research and, yeah, there is evidence, there are studies, there’s research being done all over. Some at the University of Washington and some at other schools around the country. They’re researching the ancient kingdom of fungi and finding out what they provide us as humans.

The kingdom of fungi was completely eliminated from our diet for years, and now it’s slowly being reintroduced. Del uses this analogy. If you took broccoli out and spinach out and all of a sudden reintroduced it. Spinach: this is good stuff. It’s good for you, and you ate it, you’d be like, “I don’t feel anything from this.” But it’s taking it day to day. It’s eating a lot of spinach. It’s making sure you’re eating greens. It’s the fact that they are providing you with what the body needs because it’s nature and we’re all connected.

Umbo started with the idea to reconnect to that as humans, that we have the ability to be healthy. We have the ability to thrive and the programming to be divine creatures on this earth. Yet, we lose it somehow through drive-throughs and pharmaceuticals and Bud Light commercials and TV. The sedentary lifestyle that, as I’m sitting in this also wing-back chair, I’m also starting to get a bit of a backache because I try not to sit in chairs like this anymore because they don’t make me feel good. I’m aware of that now.

Umbo is our chance to get into early on this sort of booming industry that’s putting out a lot of product. We want to make sure we set the standard high. We want to make sure our products contain mushrooms, not just a little pixie dust in there and claim that it’s fortified with mushrooms when it’s just maybe myceliated grain. If some of you don’t know what that means, it means mycelium is the white hyphae that grow underground that are called the wood-wide web. It’s a communication system. They share nutrients. Every plan has mycelium growing in it, or a fungal property in it that shares nutrients, that shares information, that connects all of nature together. While mycelium may have some benefits, it’s the fruiting bodies that really hold the true nutrients and the compounds that are very bio-available to us if taken in the correct form.

Which gets me to MyCOLove Farms. What we’re doing is growing the medicinal mushrooms, or functional mushrooms to say it correctly so we don’t get in trouble claiming that they’re medicine. We’re growing reishi, a few different varieties, lion’s mane, and turkey tail, and cordyceps. We don’t grow shiitake out at the farm, but we’re growing those four. To break it down, cordyceps is great for your respiratory and cardiovascular system. Lion’s mane is great for your cognition and your brain. They’re doing tests that show a high level of nerve growth factor in helping to regrow neurons. Turkey tail is amazing for gut health, and they’ve been using that overseas in Asia to treat breast cancer. And reishi is the mushroom of immortality. That says it all for me. If this is a mushroom of immortality, I’m going to take it. It’s helped me in a lot of ways. All of them have a lot of beta-glucans and polysaccharides and things that really good for the human body.

I chuckle and laugh when I find myself out there doing this. I’m in the farm and in the rooms and doing this work, and sharing this. Again, another chance to share, like CBD, which was one plant. To share an entire kingdom of possibilities. At times, it’s so exciting. At other times it’s like, “Oh my God! What are we getting into here?” We’ve discovered such a minute amount of edible, functional mushrooms that are good for us. If we put some effort and some funding into this, what are we going to discover that is going to be a cure or a help, or something that can help anything out there? I pinch myself sometimes, and I feel so blessed to be in this situation to spread the word about fungi and what they can do. To make people look in the mirror, consider where they’re at, and if they’re tired of feeling crappy. Doctors are telling them, “Sorry. Can’t really help you.” There is help out there. There are things you can do.

I have to say that through this, too, I mentioned the TV. I turned it off. I don’t drink very much alcohol, if any at all anymore. If I do, it’s usually just red wine. I don’t eat very much meat at all, if any. I don’t like to see food go to waste, so if there is some bacon on someone’s plate, my kid or someone, I’ll eat it. I don’t want that animal to have died in vain. But I’m not a wicked strict vegetarian. I just feel better when I eat more plants and I’m cognizant of what I’m putting in my body.

At this stage in the game, at 47, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, THC, and also mushrooms. I really don’t even take very much CBD or use THC much anymore. I really just take these adaptogenic mushrooms. I am really walking proof that my body feels better than it did just a few years ago. I sleep really well. I dream amazing dreams, because lion’s mane does something when you sleep to ignite that dimension of sleep. They’ve helped me, and I’m here to share that experience. If they’re for you, and they’re for people to try out, that’s all I’m trying to do. To show them that maybe there’s a way to feel better.

Jake Plummer’s Ultimate Dish

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. I’m so grateful for our mutual friend, Brandon Pitcher, who introduced me to you through Donna. A few months ago, we had a handful of our Escoffier students helping out with this incredible Five Kingdom dinner. I know there is more coming. He texted me last night about another opportunity to take our students up in the Lakewood area to another hydroponic plant. There’s just so much out there for us to learn.

I’m just fascinated. I’m hanging on every word. We’ve gotten a little close to the end of our time, but before I let you go, the name of the podcast, Jake, is the Ultimate Dish. I think I know where you’ll go, but I’m wondering: in your mind, what is the ultimate dish? Gotta have some lion’s mane, right?

Jake Plummer: Since October when I started working at the farm and took control of that, it’s been amazing to bring home fresh gourmet mushrooms. Lion’s mane, for all of its functional properties and ability that it has, I think, a true brain tonic. Nootropic for brain and gut health. As a culinary treat, it is unbelievable. I love cookie with lion’s mane, whether it’s tacos or a recreated, revisited crab cake using lion’s mane.

The only problem with lion’s mane is that ten pounds of lion’s mane, when you’re cooking it, the water comes out and it’s only a pound. You can back me up here, Kirk.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m losing money here.

Jake Plummer: Chef’s don’t like that. To me, it’s like the crème de la crème. Eating those mushrooms, whether it’s chestnut mushrooms or pink oysters or lion’s mane or black trumpets, or black kings, it’s been a lot of fun to dive in to eating mushrooms and putting mushrooms into all my dishes.

One thing I love to cook is chili. I love to cook chili, not so much in the summer. I love hot peppers. I love garlic and onions. I love all the spices that go into it. Paprika, cumin, coriander. I love to create a big dish of chili. What I’ve been doing lately is adding my mushrooms instead of meat. I’ll cook my mushrooms similar to how you would cook ground beef, with a little seasoning, and then I add that in. I cook organic beans. I soak them and cook them in a pressure or overnight in a crockpot. I really try to create organic, wholesome, from-scratch chili. That’s one of my favorite dishes.

I must say, anything my mom makes, I love to eat. Any dish she makes.

Kirk Bachmann: Good save.

Jake Plummer: My partner, the mother of my children, is a phenomenal cook. Whatever she cooks, she’s always cooking really good food. I’ve just really become a fan of cooking and what you can put into it. As MyCOLove Farms says, MyCOLove – I didn’t mention that name. Myco is mushroom. So mycophobia is mushroom phobia, or mycophile is what you would consider me. I’m a mycophile. I’m crazy about mushrooms. I love them. So MyCOLove is mushroom love. But the CO is capitalized because it’s a Colorado company. That CO can stand for Colorado, for community, for connection, for collaboration, whatever you want with a CO on it, unless it’s something with a negative connotation. It’s MyCOLove. MyCOLove.farm is where you can go to check us out. We have some very, very potent tinctures that we’re making and extracting from the mushrooms that we’re growing with a lot of love, with a lot of intent.

As people know, plants absorb the energy around them. I believe mushrooms absorb the energy and the intent that we’re putting into them. The intent is to provide people with love and an option to feel better. We’re creating some really special stuff out there. So check us out at MyCOLove.farm, and also at getumbo.com. We’re not monopolizing this. Mushrooms are all about connectivity. Like I mentioned, the mycelium underneath the ground that we walk on every day, it shares nutrients. If the one tree is dying and another tree is living, it communicates to the mycelium to give nutrients to help that tree stop dying and to thrive again.

We are a company that wants to help people. We don’t want to be the only mushroom company that’s making all the money and patenting everything, and IP this. We want to share what we have. We want to bring it to the people. We want to let people know that there’s a way out there to feel better, to introduce some stuff into your diet that may help you change your diet. It may help you like it has helped me get rid of inflammation and think clearer and rest better, and have a clearer vision. To be able to draw the right people and the right positive energy into where you’re at. We’re having a lot of fun. We’ve got a great team out there. I’m looking to grow it so people that are interested, we’re always open to show and share the knowledge that we are remembering. This isn’t new. This is ancient. It’s coming from way long time ago. We’re just conduits to share it.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. My gosh, has this been educational, Jake. Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time. FYI, this past Sunday, my buddy Andy over at Moxie Co., we had some of your pink oysters and lion’s mane. We flipped pizzas for about a hundred people. It was a really, really good time. We had live music. I’ll definitely get some students up to see you, if you’ll have us. I hope you come to the school at some point. We’d love to cook for you. We’d love to tour you around a little bit.

Jake Plummer: Well, I’ll come and bring some fresh mushrooms.

Kirk Bachmann: God, I would love it. I would love it.

Jake Plummer: I’m still learning how to cook them. I’m all about learning how to do it right.

Kirk Bachmann: Gosh! Thank you. Congratulations on an amazing career, and amazing life. What you’re doing for the community and others, super respectful and appreciative of your time, buddy.

Jake Plummer: Awesome. Thank you, Kirk, for the opportunity. I will definitely take you up on having you cook for me. I love eating good food.

Kirk Bachmann: And thank you for listening to the Ultimate Dish podcast, brought to you by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Visit escoffier.edu/podcast, where you’ll find any materials mentioned during the podcast, including notes, links and other resources. You can also browse other episodes and subscribe.

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