One of Alabama’s best players was arrested early Thursday morning.
According to TideSports.com, senior linebacker Tim Williams was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. He was arrested by the University of Alabama Police Department and booked into jail at 2:09 a.m. The charge is a misdemeanor.
He was subsequently released on bond later Thursday morning.
Williams was arrested in the Tuscaloosa Publix parking lot around 2:00 a.m., sources told AL.com.
Police officers were doing a normal patrol when they smelled marijuana coming from Williams’ vehicle, according to sources. A passenger, who was not an Alabama football player, said the marijuana was his, but the officer then found the pistol under Williams’ seat while searching the car, according to sources.
Williams emerged as one of the top pass-rushers in the SEC last season with 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. The 6-foot-4, 252-pound senior has six tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble through four games for the top-ranked Crimson Tide in 2016.
Alabama hosts Kentucky for its homecoming game on Saturday.
For all the bells and whistles, though, the most noteworthy feature of the new gym might be its bathrooms. Namely, that it not only includes 23 single-occupancy restrooms specifically labeled “all-gender,” but that fans may use whichever of the 54 multiple-occupancy restrooms in the arena “correlates to their gender identity,” which is believed to make Golden 1 Center “the world’s first entertainment and sports arena to fully accommodate transgender fans.”
Although family-friendly restrooms have been around for years, allowing either parent to enter with a young child, transgender advocates said Golden 1’s accommodations make a statement about the Kings’ desire for inclusiveness.
“The Sacramento Kings are leading not only the NBA, but sports worldwide in building the first arena to ensure transgender fans are fully respected and welcomed,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.
The Kings “wanted to ensure the very best fan experience for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said team Chairman Vivek Ranadive in a prepared statement.
The freedom of transgender people to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity has became a battleground issue in the sports world in general, and the NBA in particular. The dispute has stemmed from House Bill 2, a law passed in March by North Carolina legislators and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory that reversed a Charlotte city ordinance expanding rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Much of the national attention paid to House Bill 2 has focused on its removal of a Charlotte city ordinance that allowed members of the transgender community to use the public restroom that aligns with the gender with which they identity rather than the gender listed on their birth certificates. The reach of HB2 stretches beyond that restriction, though, making it illegal for North Carolina’s cities to craft their own ordinances to expand upon state laws regulating things like workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations and minimum wage standards. HB2 also “sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination” that excludes sexual orientation, and limits the avenues through which people can pursue claims of discrimination based of their race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex or handicap.
Shortly after McCrory signed HB2 into law, the NBA issued a statement saying the league is “deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.” When nothing in North Carolina changed, the NBA officially followed through on its threats, announcing it was pulling the 2017 NBA All-Star Game out of Charlotte in response to the continued existence of HB2 on the books.
“Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community – current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans,” the league said in a statement. “While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
“The sports and entertainment elite, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media have for months misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present,” McCrory responded in a statement.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union all say there is no statistical evidence of the kind of sexual violence perpetrated by male perverts and pedophiles disguised as women often used to justify laws like HB2.
The Kings made the decision to feature trans-inclusive facilities in the Golden 1 Center because “it was the right thing to do,” team president Chris Granger told the Advocate:
“In basketball and in Silicon Valley, we share a similar philosophy – it does not matter who you are, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, or the color of your skin – everyone is welcome in our family. All that matters is that you’ve got game,” Ranadivé said.
The Kings will open their home preseason schedule on Monday, Oct. 10, against Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. Their first regular-season game at the Golden 1 Center will come on Thursday, Oct. 27, against the San Antonio Spurs.
Over the last four seasons, J.J. Watt was building a case as the greatest defensive player ever.
After a solid rookie season, Watt exploded. The Houston Texans defensive end had 69 sacks over the past four seasons. He won three NFL defensive player of the year awards. Nobody can match that four-year run. Not Reggie. Not Deacon. Not Butkus. Not L.T. And when Watt was given his third defensive player of the year award last February, he was only 26 years old. Another four or five years at that level, and the greatest ever argument would have probably been over.
Watt had surgery to repair a herniated disc in July. The specifics of his recent injury and the treatment for it are unclear. The good news is that, medically, Watt’s back issues don’t appear to be so bad they’d threaten his career or take a crippling bite out of his effectiveness.
In 2011, Reuters published a story based on a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine which declared back surgeries for NFL linemen aren’t usually career ending. The study said among NFL linemen who had surgery to repair a disc, 81 percent came back to play at least one game.
“They aren’t broken, they aren’t more fragile after surgery,” orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joseph K. Weistroffer told Reuters. “Four out of five who have surgery not only return to play, they return to starter positions.”
Dr. David Chao, a former San Diego Chargers doctor who is active on Twitter @ProFootballDoc, said even without the specifics it’s a “huge leap” to think that Watt would need a serious fusion surgery or that the injury is career-threatening.
“J.J. Watt will still have a career, I believe, going forward,” Chao told the Houston Chronicle. “The question is: Will he be NFL Defensive Player of the Year caliber J.J. Watt or just very good J.J. Watt? That’s the question that remains unanswered until there’s more medical detail on what happened to him.”
Although that seems mostly positive, there’s a risk with any surgery, especially when your profession revolves around battling 300-pound men at full speed (and in Watt’s case, usually two and sometimes three of those 300-pound men on any play).
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had surgery for a herniated disc in 2013. Gronkowski, who missed his final college season due to back surgery, did return to his old form. But a Boston Globe story from 2013 outlined the risks.
“Offensive and defensive linemen — and Gronk is included, because he does some blocking — are at the greatest risk for developing a poor outcome after this kind of surgery,” Dr. Wellington Hsu, associate professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told the Globe. “They play the game in a squatting position, and have a lot of force on their back when they hit 300-pound defenders.”
Former NFL offensive lineman and current analyst Ross Tucker was quoted in that Globe story saying he was never the same after his back surgery.
“The truth is, it was a full year before I really felt good, and I never felt 100 percent again,” Tucker said. “I played three years after my surgery, but I was just a little bit less explosive. I never felt like my back was brand new.”
And when we’re talking about Watt’s ability to regain his all-time great form, a little less explosion could make a big difference. All signs indicate he’ll come back and play, and he’ll probably be a very good player when he returns. But will we ever see peak Watt again? Can he pick up where he left off and put together a few more seasons that would put him on a pedestal above Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White or whoever your pick is as the greatest defensive player in NFL history? Next season Watt will be 28, and NFL players age fast. Especially those like Watt who are magnets for extra blocking attention.
And Watt seemed to understand that his career might not be the longest, even before the back injury. In a 2014 Sports Illustrated cover story, he said, “I know how little time I have in this game” and also “I don’t see myself as a 15-year NFL player.”
Maybe in 2017 Watt will pick up where he left off and again look like one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. Gronkowski did, after all. So did Montana and others. But that path for Watt is a lot more foggy now than it was in July, when we first heard about his back injury.
When you take a kid to a baseball game, you hope that it’ll be a great experience. At the very least, you hope there won’t be tears. On Tuesday night, while the New York Mets were playing the Miami Marlins, the Mets spotted (and indirectly caused) the tears of a young fan, so they decided to give him a gift he’d never forget.
In the sixth inning, Jay Bruce had a pretty epic 11-pitch at-bat against Marlins pitcher Justin Nicolino. Bruce hit six of those 11 pitches foul, and one of them bounced on the top of the dugout and then ricocheted off the arm of a young Mets fan. Judging by the video, it looked like it hurt, and the little dude started crying.
Well, no one likes to see a kid cry. So Mets second baseman Neil Walker decided to do something about it. Walker got the ball back from the kid, brought it down to the dugout, and had a bunch of his teammates sign it. And that ball wasn’t the only gift the Mets gave him — they also sent up a bat.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity at Florida,” Stricklin said. “I’m an SEC guy. I understand the position Florida holds in college athletics. I’m excited to come and be part of the department. It’s a great staff here to work with. I love college towns. The opportunity to come and get invested in another community, with my family, you start balancing all that and you understand at this point in my career, this is an opportunity you just can’t not do.”
Stricklin’s first day on the job will be Nov. 1, the school said. Foley will remain in his current role until that date. From there Foley, who is in his 25th year as AD, will take on the role of “Emeritus Athletics Director.”
“Scott Stricklin is a strong leader with tremendous experience who shares the University of Florida’s most treasured values, from the success and well-being of our student athletes to excellence across the breadth of both men’s and women’s sports,” said Florida president Dr. Kent Fuchs. “We’re confident that he will build on Jeremy Foley’s legacy to take UF’s program to even greater heights while leading the way in shaping the future of collegiate athletics nationally.”
Stricklin, 45, is a 1992 Mississippi State graduate and was hired as MSU’s athletic director in 2010. He previously worked as an associate AD at Tulane, Baylor and Kentucky and worked in media relations at Auburn and as an undergraduate at his alma mater.
“I couldn’t have left for any other place but Florida” Stricklin said. “It’s just a special place not only in the world of the SEC, but in college athletics because of the success they’ve had and the way they’ve had it with the integrity. Florida holds a leadership position in college athletics. And you look at the academic reputation, it’s one of the best universities in the country. That’s a pretty hard combination to not take the opportunity if it’s offered to you.”
Stricklin, who will be Florida’s 14th athletic director, has big shoes to fill. Under Foley, the Gators have won 27 national titles in 13 different sports.
“I’ve known Scott on a personal and professional level for a long, long time,” Foley said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Scott and what he has accomplished at Mississippi State and the other institutions where he has worked. Scott is a wonderful leader, and a great person. He has passion for student-athletes and loves working with and supporting coaches. Those two qualities alone make him a great fit for Florida.”