Happy Friday! Already looking forward to melting into the couch tomorrow night...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The public perception of marijuana is changing, and with more and more athletes accepting the idea of cannabis as medicine, professional sports leagues — and their drug policies — are being put under the microscope.
Why it matters: Of the 123 teams across the four major sports, 45 play in states or provinces where recreational marijuana is legal (36.6%), and another 56 play in jurisdictions where medical marijuana is legal (45.5%), per ESPN.
What's happening: In the the face of this dramatic shift, some leagues — worried about what "endorsing weed" might do to their image — are hesitant to change their policies. Others, like the NHL, are completely rethinking their approach.
NFL: Players with no previous violations are tested just once in the offseason. During the regular season, 10 players per team are randomly selected each week.
NBA: No offseason tests. During the regular season, players are subject to four random tests.
MLB: Use of marijuana is prohibited, but the league only tests for it if they have "reasonable cause" to do so.
And then there's the NHL, which doesn't punish players who test positive for marijuana (which it no longer classifies as a banned substance). Instead, the league focuses on identifying those who need help and ensuring that they get it.
What they're saying:
"We are elite athletes and as long as it's not performance-enhancing or illegal, we know what's best for our own bodies. I find that a couple hits of weed at night is good for me. It's legal, it's natural, I don't see anything wrong with it."— Anonymous NHL player (via ESPN)
What's next: "The NFL's CBA expires after the 2020 season, and it's believed the drug policy will be a major discussion point," writes Kaplan.
P.S. Suspended Cowboys DT David Irving quit the NFL yesterday — while smoking a blunt.
Photo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images
This is what I have to deal with.
7'6" Tacko Fall was reunited with his family during UCF's Senior Night last night. Photo: Alex Menendez/Getty Images
In 2012, 16-year-old Tacko Fall left Senegal to attend high school in the U.S. "Basketball and school, that was the plan," said Fall, who had never played the sport before his arrival.
Fast-forward: Seven years later, the 7-foot-6 Fall is finishing up an impressive career at UCF, where he has led the Knights to three of the five best seasons in program history. They're currently ranked No. 25 after beating No. 8 Houston over the weekend.
By the numbers:
What's next: The NBA no longer has room for slow-footed big men, so "Fall's basketball legend might come down to the next few weeks," writes The Ringer's Rodger Sherman. I'll be rooting for him.
Photo: Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Bryce Harper has the baseball world in a tizzy again — this time for potentially violating the league's anti-tampering rules.
What's happening: Harper told a radio station in Philadelphia that he'd be actively recruiting Mike Trout to join the Phillies once he hits free agency in 2020 and called anyone who thinks he'd do otherwise "crazy."
Why it matters: The Angels, naturally, aren't too happy about this and have asked the league to investigate whether Harper is guilty of tampering.
Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Three years ago today, 40-year-old Peyton Manning — having just won Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos — announced his retirement from the NFL.
By the numbers:
Watch: Top 10 career highlights
Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
"For centuries, the citizens of Ashbourne, England have annually contested the Royal Shrovetide Football match, a sprawling, chaotic wrestling match masquerading as a soccer game," writes Deadspin's Patrick Redford.
Match recap: It took a full hour for the ball to get moved out of the town square on Tuesday and play was suspended at 10 pm. At 8:42pm on Wednesday night, Richard Smith of the Down'ards scored the game-winning goal.
Go deeper: Full match report
P.S. While we're on the topic of spectacular writing, legendary golf writer and best-selling author Dan Jenkins passed away late last night. He was 89.
Pro tip: Every link in this section is beyond worthy of your time. Treat yourself to at least two. It's Friday.
Courtesy: Under Armour
Back in November, 9-year-old Riley Morrison wrote a letter to Steph Curry asking why his signature shoes were only sold in boys' sizes. Steph wrote her back and thanked her for holding Under Armour and himself accountable.
P.S. Shoutout to all the women in my life. Love you, mom. Love you, Carly. Love you, Jackie. Love you, Nana. And shoutout to all the women in your lives, too.
P.P.S. Axios asked women leaders in philanthropy, entertainment and business: "What is the 1 big thing you think will matter to women in 2019?" Read their answers.