Club cannabis: Will other leagues copy the NHL?

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Player X is in the NHL. After home games, he has a routine. Typically, he'll meet a few teammates at a local restaurant for a late dinner. He likes to order steak after games -- medium rare, with a side salad and mashed potatoes. Then he'll go home.

Player X sometimes has a hard time unwinding; it was a day of unbounded stimulation. He woke up and arrived at the rink for a morning skate and meetings, went home to nap, returned to the arena for warm-ups (bright lights and eardrum-blasting music), then exerted his body for 20-something sub-one-minute shifts during which he shoves, sprints, reaches, shoots, gets hit and sometimes bleeds on the ice. By the time he gets home at night, he needs something to ease the process of getting to bed. So he'll often reach for his weed pen and take a few hits. "Just to relax," he says. "Honestly, it's the easiest and most natural way for me to fall asleep and be ready for the next day."

Because Player X is on a Western Conference team based in a state in which there are broad laws legalizing marijuana, he knows he's not doing anything wrong. Actually, he's doing what he estimates thousands of others who live in his city do every night as well.

And because he plays in the NHL -- and not, say, the NFL, NBA or MLB -- he knows he won't be punished.

Evolving views

Society's views on marijuana are evolving -- fast. On Oct. 16, Canada became the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. Coupled with results from the midterm elections in the United States, this is the landscape: Of the 31 teams in the NHL, 28 play in states where players have access to legal marijuana, whether it is for medicinal or recreational purposes. That's the highest percentage (90.3) of any of the major four North American pro leagues, but hardly an anomaly.

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Barnwell's free-agency and trade grades: Tracking every big move

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Welcome to 2019 NFL free agency. I'm grading the most notable offseason moves -- signings and trades -- below, so come back throughout the month for updates as deals get completed.

The most recent grades and write-ups are at the top, and the first grade goes all the way back to Feb. 7, when the Cardinals added cornerback Robert Alford.

Keep in mind that I'm not grading deals until we get a clearer picture of the money involved. So if you don't see a grade for a deal that has been reported, check back in later.

Jump to a big move:
NYG-CLE trade | DEN-WSH trade | OT Smith | S Weddle

Friday, March 8

The deal: Two years, $12.5 million with $5.25 million guaranteed
Grade: B

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Alabama Basketball: Tide B-Ball fans should be happy about one thing

College basketball is under duress from a widening FBI investigation. As a result, the NCAA is forced to act. Alabama basketball coach, Avery Johnson has kept the Tide clean. Probably not many Alabama basketball fans are closely following the FBI investigation into college basketball. The Crimson Tide program has not been implicated in any wrongdoing. Former […] Alabama Basketball: Tide B-Ball fans should be happy about one thing - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Smith Jr. goes for his first world title against Bivol

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VERONA, N.Y. -- After light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. -- a former construction worker -- had a breakout year in 2016, he appeared headed to a world title fight.

After all, he had scored a major upset with a stunning first-round knockout of contender Andrzej Fonfara and followed it with an even bigger win in the encore when he sent legend Bernard Hopkins into retirement by knocking him clear out of the ring in an eighth-round knockout victory.

And then he appeared on his way to defeating contender Sullivan Barrera in his next fight when he dropped him in the first round. But Barrera got off the deck, broke Smith's jaw and went on to win a unanimous decision in a fight Smith somehow managed to go the distance in despite a brutal injury that sidelined him for 11 months.

But after returning for a quick first-round knockout win against journeyman Melvin Russell in June, Smith is finally getting the opportunity to fight for a world title that he has dreamed about. He will challenge Dmitry Bivol for his 175-pound belt in what many predict will be a fan-friendly fight Saturday (DAZN, 7 p.m. ET) at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Light heavyweight world titleholder Dmitry Bivol defends his belt against Joe Smith Jr. on Saturday in a fight that might be his last in the weight class.

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Six Tide players could surprise this spring

As Alabama football Spring Practice begins, look to these six lesser-known players to step up and elevate themselves into key roles for 2019. With only 13 starters returning on offense and defense, Alabama football offers many opportunities for lesser-known players to earn key roles. The six Crimson Tide players discussed below could make a big step […] Alabama Football: Six Tide players could surprise this spring - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Emmitt Smith's son EJ Smith lands offer from Alabama

Emmitt Smith was one of the most dominant running backs in NFL history, and his son EJ Smith is following in dad’s footsteps.

The four-star running back out of Jesuit High School shared on his Twitter account Wednesday that he received an offer from Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Emmitt’s son has also landed scholarship offers from big-time programs like LSU, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and USC.

Ranked the 96th overall player (247Sports Composite) for the 2020 recruiting class, Smith sure does look the part of a dynamic playmaker.

Clearly, the biggest programs in the nation are following his progress closely. It won’t be long before EJ Smith is doing his thing on national television every Saturday.

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Alabama WR Henry Ruggs reportedly ran 4.25-second 40

Henry Ruggs won’t be among those entering the NFL draft this April, but next year when he comes out of Alabama, his blazing speed will have him on everyone’s radar.

According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Ruggs wowed NFL scouts during ‘Bama’s pro day, which took place on Wednesday.

“I’ve heard that NFL scouts timed Ruggs, who had 11 touchdown catches for the Tide last season, in the 4.25 range in the 40-yard dash,” Zenitz wrote.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that these scouts were hand-timing the runs on Wednesday, and that the NFL Scouting Combine uses laser timing. Regardless, that’s a crazy 40, and his speed shows up on tape regularly, too (like this).

Last year as a sophomore, Ruggs hauled in 46 passes for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

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2020 NFL Mock Draft loaded with Tide first-rounders

In a way too early 2020 Mock Draft, nine Alabama football players are slated as first-round selections. The NFL first-round record is six. Why are we discussing Alabama football players and the 2020 NFL Draft? Normally a Mock Draft so far out would not get much attention. If current projections hold true for the 2019 […] Alabama Football: 2020 NFL Mock Draft loaded with Tide first-rounders - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Breaux & Gentry Shine: Alabama baseball takes two mid-week games to move to 12-2

Coach Brad Bohannon and his Crimson Tide baseball team improved to 12-2 this season with victories on Tuesday, over the Birmingham Blazers , and Wednesday over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

Although happy to claim the wins, Bohannon was not entirely pleased with his team’s performance. Both games should have been out of reach early, but late inning woes led to angsty victories. Birmingham scored two in the top of the ninth, and had the tying run aboard before Jeremy Randolph shut the door on the Blazers. The South Dakota State team showed a ton of fight to score three times in the ninth to tie the Tide at four each. The teams battled through 14 innings before Bama could plate the winning run. Alabama defeated Birmingham 4-3, and prevailed over SDS 5-4 in extra innings.

Game One: Won 4-3

Birmingham brought a 9-3 squad to town on Tuesday to battle the Tide. The game was originally scheduled for 5 p.m., but because of the cold snap that hit the state, was moved to 3 p.m. Bama has only played four games this season at the originally scheduled time because of weather.

Left-hander Garrett Rukes got the start on the mound for the Tide and pitched three outstanding innings, allowing three singles, with no runs, no walks, and three strikeouts over his 40 pitch stint. Bama dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when John Trousdale led off with a double, advanced on a Jeaux Breaux single, and scored on an RBI fielders choice by Brett Auerbach. Tyler Gentry singled Auerbach in for the other run in the frame.

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Alabama Basketball: Latest NCAA Bracket updates show beat Hogs or NIT

Alabama basketball teeters on the edge of the NCAA Tournament Bubble cliff with toes on the ground and heels hanging over the edge. On the day after another Alabama basketball collapse, the Crimson Tide is hanging on to a possible NCAA at-large bid. So say credible bracketologists or some of them anyway. Maybe a better […] Alabama Basketball: Latest NCAA Bracket updates show beat Hogs or NIT - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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10 NFL draft prospects who boosted their stock at the Combine

The NFL Combine, fairly or not, can make or break a player’s draft stock. A bad workout can send someone hurtling, but a good one can turn a Day 2 pick into a first-rounder and a top-20 pick into a top-10 selection.

Which prospects stood out the most in Indianapolis this year? Here are ten players who helped themselves significantly with their on-field showings at the NFL Combine.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Murray did not work out at the NFL Combine, but he didn’t really need to. He has bigger hands than Baker Mayfield and measured up at 5-foot-10 and 1/8. It’s nitpicking over size, but Murray seems to be tall enough. The question at this point is not whether he’ll be picked in the first round, but instead whether he’ll go first overall. He certainly seems to have solidified his standing just ahead of Dwayne Haskins as the favorite to be the first quarterback off the board, even if his interviews led to some negative reviews.

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Major-conference tournament sleepers

There's still a little time left before college basketball's Championship Week, a pleasant prelude to the NCAA Tournament.

By now we know who the favorites are in the major conference tournaments: ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. But what about the underdogs, teams on the bubble or those squads we still can't quite figure out? All have shown glimpses of being worthy of an invite to the Big Dance at some point this season but still likely have some work left to be done.

The college basketball postseason is one of the most exciting times of any sports season, and the conference tournaments get it all started. So here's a look at 10 major-conference sleepers or under-the-radar programs that might be poised for a deep or surprising run in their respective tournaments.

Alabama
The Crimson Tide are an NCAA Tournament bubble team at the moment, so a nice run during the SEC Tournament would reinforce their case. Alabama already has wins over Kentucky, Mississippi and Mississippi State, so it should not be intimidated by anyone. Plus, the Tide have an impressive one-two scoring punch in Kira Lewis Jr. and Donta Hall. Don't forget: It's also easy to get motivated to play for coach Avery Johnson, meaning Alabama is certainly a team to watch in the postseason.

Baylor 
It looked as if the Bears would be in trouble when big man Tristan Clark suffered a season-ending knee injury in early January. However, Baylor is 10-4 minus Clark, with wins over ranked Texas Tech and Iowa State. The Bears overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Texas in overtime this week, so it's possible they can be a factor in the Big 12 Tournament — especially, if 6-foot-7 swingman Mario Kegler stays hot.

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Likely top-five pick Quinnen Williams needs finger surgery after combine

Alabama product Quinnen Williams is almost certainly going to be selected in the first five picks of the 2019 NFL Draft. However, this week the defensive tackle won’t do the bench press at the combine due to a finger injury that will require surgery afterward.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media shared this news on Wednesday afternoon.

In no way should this negatively affect Williams’ draft stock. His power on the gridiron is well-documented.

The former Alabama star could potentially be selected as high as No. 1 or No. 2 overall if the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers stand pat and don’t trade down.

The Morning Bark Newsletter. Emailed daily.

You'll receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams.

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Updated roster weights for Tide players are telling

Alabama football has published its annual roster update and the listed weight changes for some players are strong clues to their 2019 contribution. The newly updated Alabama football roster shows weight changes for quite a few players. The changes are in both directions with added and lost weight. Not every change is significant but several […] Alabama Football: Updated roster weights for Tide players are telling - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Tagovailoa favorite to win Heisman next season

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Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa won't be sneaking up on anyone this year.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has opened odds on the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner with Tagovailoa as the favorite at +250, followed by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at 3-1. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Adrian Martinez (Nebraska) are tied for the next-best odds at 6-1, followed by Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor at 15-1.

"It was close between Tua and Lawrence," Ed Salmons, vice president of risk at The SuperBook, told ESPN. "But we felt Tua wants to finish what he should have won last year."

Last year, Tagovailoa opened as the third favorite at 10-1 odds to win the Heisman at the SuperBook. He became the favorite in August before Nick Saban even declared him the starter, and after an incredible season was as high as a -750 favorite at some New Jersey sportsbooks heading into the SEC championship game.

But an impressive performance by Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (opened 20-1) in the Big 12 title game helped him capture the Heisman.

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Alabama Basketball: Tide with SEC road win and most important is how

The Alabama basketball road win over South Carolina was important but even bigger was how the Crimson Tide won. After the game, Alabama basketball coach, Avery Johnson complimented South Carolina. Avery said the Gamecocks played like a NCAA Tournament team. The television announcers observed the second-half felt like a NCAA Tournament game. This season Alabama basketball […] Alabama Basketball: Tide with SEC road win and most important is how - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Alabama Basketball: Tuesday afternoon NCAA Brackets update

Alabama basketball clings precariously to a possible NCAA Tournament bid. Check out the latest projections from the top Bracketologists. They are all must-wins now as Alabama basketball has no margin for failure. A win tonight in Columbia, SC would boost the Tide’s chances. it would have another added benefit. If the SEC is to get […] Alabama Basketball: Tuesday afternoon NCAA Brackets update - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Kicking Woes a Thing of the Past for Alabama Football?

With the top-ranked kicker in the 2019 recruiting class and the addition of two new special teams assistants to the Alabama Football family, the kicking troubles that have plagued the Tide since the infamous Kick Six may be a thing of the past. For several years, Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama has held its […] Kicking Woes a Thing of the Past for Alabama Football? - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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NFL Combine begins and draft profiles for Tide stars

The NFL Draft process begins in earnest on Tuesday at the annual Combine. Former Alabama football players seek to enhance their status before the NFL Draft in April. The NFL Combine begins Tuesday In Indianapolis. The first group of multiple day arrivals includes former Alabama football players Jonah Williams, Ross Piersbacher, Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs. Eleven […] Alabama Football: NFL Combine begins and draft profiles for Tide stars - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Alabama Basketball: Avery learns, we hope and Tide alive in NCAA Bubble

Has Avery Johnson come out of a long learning curve as Alabama basketball battles the Bubble Zone again while Tide fans watch and wonder? Avery Johnson may or may not have learned something from the Vanderbilt win. Only eight members of the Alabama basketball squad played against the Dores. One of those players, Daniel Giddens […] Alabama Basketball: Avery learns, we hope and Tide alive in NCAA Bubble - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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