Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss the NFL and marijuana, Canadian world champion boxer Bermane Stiverne, Steve Kerr's choice for head coach and FIFA backtracking on Qatar 2022.
Dave Naylor, TSN Radio 1050: My thumb is up to the National Football League which - according to reports this week - is planning to soften its penalties for players who test positive for marijuana. Look, even if you're part of the minority which still believes pot should be illegal, it's not hard to see the hypocrisy here. The NFL is a down-and-dirty league, where all kinds of nasty stuff happens and players are often welcomed back to the field despite risky and dangerous behavior. And yet, as of now, Cleveland's Josh Gordon will miss this coming season because he did something that is legal in two states and which many believe is a safer way to manage the pain associated with pro football than popping pills. What would the NFL be like if the league stopped testing for weed altogether? Well, we have a pretty good idea because in Canada the CFL does not list marijuana as a banned substance. And frankly, no one cares. The NFL has followed the CFL's lead when it comes to the forward pass, two-point converts and a few other things … it's time to follow its lead on pot as well.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up Bermane Stiverne, and if you don't know the name, you're not alone. A week ago, Stiverne, the Haitian-born Montreal-raised boxer, won the WBC heavyweight championship. Once upon a time, that was a title that began with Sonny Liston and moved through Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes and George Foreman and Mike Tyson and another Canadian of other countries, Lennox Lewis. It was the title of all titles not just in boxing, but in all of sport: heavyweight champion of the world. Somewhere in time that disappeared, just not the history; now it's Stiverne's time, after his sixth round stoppage of Chris Arreola in Los Angeles. He might be like Trevor Berbick, a one and done champion. But after all these years, we still remember Berbick's name.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to Steve Kerr for a wise choice. Offered coaching positions with the Knicks and Warriors, the broadcaster took door no. 2, Golden State. The job might not be all rainbows and lollipops because Warrior players are angry former coach Mark Jackson was fired, but it is a better option than Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous asylum. Kerr won't have to answer to bullying owner James Dolan or face inevitable second-guessing from Knicks president Phil Jackson, a fair coach himself. Golden state provides Kerr with a more talented roster and a better family situation, but mostly if offers a truly precious commodity - sanity.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is down to soccer's world governing body, FIFA for managing to sound dumber than its president, Sepp Blatter. Blatter has finally admitted that the selection of Qatar as the site of the 2022 World Cup was a mistake, which, until now, has been obvious to all but FIFA, because if the summertime heat makes it dangerous to watch a soccer match, it's probably not a good idea to play in one. But, said Blatter, people do make mistakes. Well, an embarrassed FIFA spokesman tried to distance the organization from Blatter's remarks by claiming that Blatter never actually said that Qatar was the wrong choice, which means that Blatter meant...... FIFA made the right choice and it was a mistake. They can't even stand this heat.