America’s oldest past-time is chock full of unspoken rules, old-school traditions and players from nations all over the globe on some of the richest contracts in all sports. Now, thanks to some official changes to the rules, those baseball players will be able to spend some of that money they’re making on enjoying cannabis carefree.
In a move that raised many eyebrows, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the players union announced they had reached an agreement to remove cannabis from the sport’s banned substances list.
“Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides for mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving natural cannabinoids,” MLB said via an official press release.
The league will now treat cannabis use the same way they treat alcohol abuse, separating cannabis from some of the harder black market drugs around like cocaine and opioids.
The new rules also dictate that substances like synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine and opioids like fentanyl will now be added to the banned substances list, reflecting the league’s new focus on stamping out opioid abuse.
On top of the new testing and banned substance policy, the league will require players to take part in newly implemented programs covering “the dangers of opioid pain medications and practical approaches to marijuana” which will reportedly focus on “evidence-based and health-first approaches based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.”
These new educational programs and the addition of opioids like fentanyl reflect the grim realities in much of Middle America at the moment. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths due to opioids have increased by nearly 10 percent since 2016 and just like any other population, MLB athletes have been directly impacted.
Tyler Skaggs, a 27-year-old pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angelos Angels, died last July due to an opioid overdose. According to the L.A. Times, his autopsy revealed a mix of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol leading to his death by choking on his own vomit.
While Skaggs’ death was ruled accidental after a brief investigation, reports did reveal a Los Angelos Angels employee admitted to providing oxycodone for him, which likely plays a major role in these new rules and educational programs.
The changes are set to take effect at the start of 2020 spring training.
The move comes as more states ready for legalization in 2020, with states with MLB teams like the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians all make a major push via state legislation or ballot measures.
With popular opinion among U.S. adults clearly on the side of legalization, experts projecting the global legal cannabis market to be worth as much as $66.3 billion by 2025 and the popularity, TV viewership and in-stadium attendance for the sport of baseball dipping to an all-time low, America’s pastime embracing cannabis might be the shot in the arm they need to get some younger viewers back.
Everything You Need to Know About the XFL 2020 Season
Just when you thought professional football was wrapped up for the season, here comes the revived XFL 2020 season. This time around WWE head honcho Vince McMahon brought in prestigious names like Oliver Luck, father of recently retired Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, as commissioner, ex-Bills general manager Doug Whaley as vice president and former NFL officiating head Dean Blandino to add an air of legitimacy to the 2020 version. With eight brand new team stacked with many new — and some more familiar — faces, this weekend as the new upstart league kicks for the first time since 2001.
With eight brand new teams stacked with many new — and some more familiar — faces, this weekend as the new upstart league kicks for the first time since 2001. Let’s take a quick look at each team and their key players ahead of this weekend’s XFL 2020 opening kickoff.
— XFL (@xfl2020) August 21, 2019
On paper, the DC Defenders have the potential to be one of the most explosive offenses in the entire league.
With Cardale Jones, a National Championship winner in 2015 with Ohio State, under center, Donnell Pumphrey, the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage, in the backfield and pass-catcher Rashad Ross, a standout now-defunct AFF, it’s entirely possible that the Defenders have some of the league’s best offensive weapons.
With former Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton as head coach, the Defenders might be primed to be one of the most fun to watch XFL 2020 offenses.
If you were a big fan of the AAF, then the Seattle Dragons will likely be the team for you. They’re perhaps the most AAF-heavy team in the XFL at current, stocked with standouts from the league like quarterback Brandon Silvers, along with running backs Kenneth Farrow, Ja’Quan Gardner and Trey Williams.
With former NFL coordinator and Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor member Jim Zorn at the helm as head coach and a pair of NFL-experienced receiver in Keenan Reynolds and Kasen Williams to catch passes from Silvers, we expect the Dragons to be able to keep their heads above water this season and build for the future.
Los Angeles Wildcats
Just like the two other pro football teams based in the City of Angels, the Wildcats appear to have the offensive potential to make some noise in the Western Conference this year.
Rolling with well-seasoned journeyman Josh Johnson at quarterback, last seen starting a few games for the Washington Redskins this past NFL season, the Wildcats are the 15th professional franchise Johnson has gotten into uniform for. When it comes to years of playing experience, no other XFL team has that much experience leading their offense on the field.
Johnson will have weapons like Pac-12 receptions record holder Nelson Spruce and ex-North Carolina running back Elijah Hood to throw too, while head coach Winston Moss, a longtime linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints and current Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy’s assistant head coach for over a decade, will look to lead the Los Angeles Wildcats to the same heights the Ram’s reached two years ago.
There are few more fitting cities in the country that fit the Roughnecks‘ run ‘n’ shoot offensive philosophy than the city of Houston.
Led by quarterback by Phillip Walker, Temple’s all-time passing leader in nearly every counting stat you can think of, and stacked with big skills position names like former Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates, Houston has the potential to be explosive.
In fact, if potential bears out, Coates and Phillips could be the XFL’s first dynamic QB-WR combo, something that could win them the favor of fans in the Space City and blast the team into the stratosphere.
Tampa Bay Vipers
When it comes to a premium on coaching, Tampa Bay Vipers are in the argument for the biggest advantage in the league.
The team is led by Marc Trestman, a two-time CFL Coach of the Year, former head coach of the Bears and former offensive coordinator for the Ravens. Trestman looks to utilize offensive talent like starting quarterback Aaron Murray, the current SEC leader in touchdowns and QB/RB Quinton Flowers, a supreme athlete set to be used in a Taysom Hill-like role for the Vipers.
Both passers will have former Seattle Seahawks receiver Tanner McEvoy to throw too, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Trestman can cook up to optimize his offensive talent. At the very least we’re going to see some cool trick players and schemes from the Vipers offense.
New York Guardians
Another team projected to be a championship contender in the Eastern Conference, the New York Guardians look set to take the Big Apple and the XLF by storm.
Featuring both one of the most experienced head coaches and quarterback combos in the league in former Penn State Nittany Lion, Oakland Raider and Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Matt McGloin and former Chargers head coach Kevin Gilbride, it’s no wonder they’re one of the betting favorites to make a splash.
Along with McGloin and Gilbride is a stout defensive unit filled with veteran players like the AAF’s Jamar Summers and former NFL linebacker Ben Heeney, making the Guardians one of the most complete teams in the XLF.
We’ll have to see if they can capture the attention of the typically cynical NYC sports fan and make a splash in one of the league’s largest markets.
St. Louis Battlehawks
The city of St. Louis will finally have a football team to call their own again! The fresh-faced new franchise Battlehawks will try to be a shot in the arm for football fans with other newcomers like first-time head coach Jonathan Hayes, a former tight ends coach for the Bengals, and exciting young quarterback Jordan Ta’amu out of Ole Miss.
Both quarterback and head coach are set to make their pro debuts as figureheads for the Battlehawks franchise, backed by a supporting cast of seasoned NFL and AAF pros like running backs Christine Michael and Matt Jones, veteran tackle Matt McCants and AAF standout De’Mornay Pierson-El.
We’ll have to see if pro football’s return to St. Louis sparks the same passion from the fans as when the now-LA Rams did when they left.
Last but certainly not least, we have the Dallas Renegades, one of the outright favorites to win the XFL’s inaugural championship game.
Longtime college head coach Bob Stoops has assembled a team featuring many of his former players and multiple former NFL talents, forming what many are calling one of the most complete overall rosters in the league.
With Landry Jones, a four-year starter for Stoops at Oklahoma, at quarterback, a pair od NFL-caliber running backs in Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar and a little receiving dynamo in Jeff Badet, the Renegades offense has no shortage of speed. They have a stacked defense to go with the speedy offense, however, with former AAF stand-out safety Derron Smith as their leader.
If Jones can return quickly from a nagging knee injury, Dallas might be one of the favorites to win the whole thing this year.
With XFL 2020 set to kick off this weekend and all four games on network television, why not tune in and check it out. After all, something needs to pass the time until the NFL kicks off later this year.
Peep the full XFL 2020 opening week schedule here.
Super Bowl LIV Preview: Kansas City Cheifs v San Francisco 49ers
It’s the final game in the NFL’s much-celebrated 100th season. Which team will be the victorious Super Bowl LIV champions?
Today is a big day for fans of the National Football League. In the final game of their much-celebrated 100th season, during one of the most-watched televised events every year, a new champion will be crowned for Super Bowl LIV.
After a long, grueling season the Kansas City Cheifs, led by their dynamic, star-studded offense and young superstar Quater Back Patrick Mahomes, are set to take on the San Francisco 49ers and their stifling defense in Miami.
A battle between one of the top two offenses in the league against the top two defenses, Super Bowl LIV is much more likely to feature some more big plays than last year’s defensive battle between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
So who has the advantage tonight between these two historic teams? Well, we’re here to take a closer look at the stats and give you a comprehensive guide to each team, giving you the knowledge you’ll need to go to any Super Bowl party prepared and ready.
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
The Case for the Cheifs
When it comes to offensive fireworks, big plays and dynamic action, there are few rosters more stacked than the Kansas City Cheifs.
Despite suffering a horrific dislocated kneecap midseason that kept him out of two games this year, Kansas City’s young superstar QB and former league MVP Patrick Mahomes still lit it up through the air, throwing for a staggering 4,301 years, 26 touchdowns and only five picks. For some perspective that’s tenth best in the whole league, despite everyone ahead of his playing at least one more regular-season game.
A huge chunk of that offensive production was to superstar tight end Travis Kelce, who hauled in an incredible 97 receptions for 1,229 years this season, landing him fourth among all receives this season. Along with pass-catching weapons like wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman and pass-catching running back Damien Williams, the Cheif’s offensive is a big play waiting to happen.
Even if the Cheifs are stuffed early in the game by the 49ers stout defense and ruthless pass rush, don’t count them out. The Cheifs have rallied from behind to win four games they’ve trailed by at least 10 this season, including twice in the playoffs.
Winning this Super Bowl would be a historic moment for both coach and quarterback for Kansas City, making Andy Reid, the winnest head coach in NFL history without a championship, the first coach in history to win his first ring after more than 20 years as a head coach. It would also make the 24-year-old Patrick Mahomes the youngest ever player to win both an MVP award and a Super Bowl, four years ahead of Hall of Famer Brett Farve who did it at age 27.
Winning the historic Cheifs franchise their first Super Bowl since 1970 would surely be a huge step towards enshrining both head coach Andy Reid and Mahomes onto the shortlist of all-time league greats.
We’ll have to see if they’ve got a few more explosive plays in them to make history.
The Case for the 49ers
A true underdog before the start of this year’s season, few aside from the guys in their locker room, coaching staff and fanbase imagined the San Fransisco 49ers would be as good as they’ve been.
Led by a powerhouse defensive filled with uber-talented players like veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa and versatile linebacker Kwon Alexander and a nearly unstoppable three-headed rushing attack from Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, this year was the Niners coming out party.
Their final and perhaps toughest test will be today against Kansas City’s explosive offense. If San Fransisco can establish their running game, the second-best in the league this regular season and playoffs, and get pressure on Mahomes to prevent him from flinging the ball deep, something they allowed only eight times all regular season (the fewest over the past 14 seasons), then they have a great shot at being champs.
They’ll also need defensive end Dee Ford to bring his best today to take home the W. The stats show that the Niners defense gets a lot more imposing when Ford is on the field. With Ford playing San Francisco’s sack rate jumps to 15.8 percent, compared to a mere 5.7 percent without him. With Ford hampered by a hamstring injury for the latter half of the season, the Niners had to lean on other defensive playmakers to get the job done. If he’s fully healthy now after two weeks off, the Cheifs offensive line will likely have their hands full keeping Mahomes upright.
According to the stats, pressuring the quarterback is going to be the key to this game. In fact, historically, a great defense has been the key to Super Bowl success.
For example, teams in the last 15 years to make it to the Super Bowl after sacking the quarterback at least 55 times are undefeated – 6 and 0. Top two NFL defenses that made it to the Super Bowl are an overwhelming 17-7 all-time, with the top two defense overcoming the top two offenses 3 to 1 when they matched up in the big game.
If the Niners are looking to win their first Super Bowl since 1995, they’ll need to bring their A-game on the defensive side of the ball.
Kobe Bryant: Tragic End to a Legendary Life
Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven other people, were killed Sunday in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. He was only 41 years old.
The group of nine people boarded the helicopter at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, departing at 9:06 a.m. PST headed towards a practice session at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California when visibility became an issue due to heavy fog. The helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain, killing all on board instantly and starting a small bush fire.
Along with Bryant and his daughter, other casualties of the crash included Christina Mauser, Bryant’s girl’s team basketball coach, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton and Ara Zobayan, the helicopter’s pilot.
First reported by TMZ, with the details later confirmed by other news outlets, the horrific accident takes a global basketball icon, renowned brand builder, successful venture capitalist and investor, philanthropist, filmmaker and media personality away from his wife Vanessa, his three surviving daughters and millions of NBA fans all over the world.
The news of Bryant’s tragic passing immediately sent shock waves around the sporting world, with athletes from all over the planet taking time out to honor Bryant and his legacy.
NBA superstar LeBron James, a current LA Laker and admirer of Bryant, exited the team airplane visibly shaken after hearing the news, later giving a touching statement to the media.
“It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,” said James. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling, and it’s dope.
“Kobe’s a legend. That’s for damn sure.”
James had just passed Bryant for third on the all-time NBA top scorers list the night before in Philadelphia, the city Bryant played in high school before entering the league. Bryant sat in the front row with his daughter Gianna, a talented basketball player in her own right, and his last tweet was a congratulation to King James for his accomplishment.
Soccer superstars like Leonel Messi, David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo all posted tributes to Bryant to their hundreds of millions of Instagram followers, fans flooded the outside of the Staples Center with Lakers merchandise and flowers to pay tribute and teams around the league took 8 and 24-second violations to start the game in honor of Bryant’s two numbers, 8 and 24.
Perhaps the most tragic part of Bryant’s passing is the clear plan he had for the second chapter of his career after basketball. In the short three and a half years since his retirement from the NBA, Bryant became an advocate for women’s basketball, won an Academy Award for his short film “Dear Basketball,” the best-selling author of “The Mamba Mentality” and a dedicated father and family man all at the same time.
Rest in peace, Kobe. Gone but never forgotten.
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