The annual Royal Shrovetide Football kicked off in Ashbourne, England this week, and a Frenchman named Nicolas Petit is leading the grueling Iditarod Alaska dog sled race after the lead pack reached the Eagle Island checkpoint approximately 592 miles into the 998-mile race.

Shrovetide Football
The annual Royal Shrovetide Football match is underway in Ashbourne, England. (Image: Toby Melville/Reuters)

Aily Zirkle is currently in sixth place. She is trying to be the first woman to win the Iditarod in almost three decades.

Perhaps dog sled racing or a medieval football match is not weird enough for you this week. In headier news, a member of the Dallas Cowboys announced his retirement from the NFL via a blunt-toking Instagram post. File that story under: pothead quits NFL.

Halfway Thru the Iditarod

The annual race from Anchorage to Nome began five days ago. Mushers from all over the world converged on Alaska for the ultimate endurance test over a 998-mile course.

Nicolas Petit, a Frenchman originally from Normandy living in Alaska, is currently leading the Iditarod. The lead mushers in the world’s most famous dog sled race has reached the Eagle Island checkpoint.

1. Nicolas Petit
2. JoarLeifseth Ulsom
3. Peter Kaiser
4. Jessie Royer
5. Mitch Seavey
6. Aily Zirkle

Petit was one of three mushers who reached Eagle Island. He was not the first to arrive, but he was the first to leave the checkpoint. It is the 17th checkpoint out of 25 on this year’s course. Joar Leifseth Ulsom reached Eagle Island with the lead. Peter Kaiser also made it to Eagle Island, but he is currently under a mandatory rest break.

The main chase pack recently left Grayling. That group includes the highly-popular Aily Zirkle. Zirkle is trying to become the first woman to win the Iditarod since Susan Butcher won her fourth Iditarod in 1990.

Royal Shrovetide Match

For centuries, the men of Ashbourne, England competed in an annual football/wrestling match known as the Royal Shrovetide. The game took place on Shrove Tuesday, or the day before Ash Wednesday. Variations of the hugball were played as far back as the 12th Century during the reign of King Henry II. Some morbid tales suggest that the ball was originally a severed head, which sounds like a side plot from a “Game of Thrones” episode.

The Shrovetide game dates as far back as 1667. The town is divided into two teams that gather in the town square. Goals are located on the opposite sides of the town, approximately three miles apart. The teams are divided by a natural boundary known as the Henmore Brook. Depending on which side of the brook you live on, you are either an Up’ard and Down’ard.

The Royal Shrovetide is a combination of rugby, soccer, and wrestling. There are very few rules, but one of them is simply: no murder.

1. No driving the ball in a car.
2. No hiding the ball in a bag.
3. No murders.

The entire town is in play minus the church yards and the hospital. It could last up to three days. The match officially ends when someone scores a goal. Organizers warned residents to move their vehicles out of town during the match.

“Respect the game and will continue. Abuse the privilege and the game is lost forever,” said the master of ceremonies before the match began.

The town gathers in the town square to sing renditions of “Auld Lang Syne” and “God Save the Queen” before the ball is tossed into the crowd. Day 1 play was suspended at 10pm. Action resumed on Day 2. The Down’ards were on the attack most of the day until they finally broke through in the night time. At 8:42pm, Richard Smith from the Down’ards scored the winning goal to secure the victory.

NFL Potheads

David Irving played 37 games in four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He registered 12.5 sacks and 56 tackles.

Irving, 25, grew up in South Central Los Angeles and played his collegiate ball at Iowa State. He went undrafted as a DE/DT in 2015. The Cowboys snatched him from the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad in 2015. Irving started in all eight games he played in 2017. He missed the first four games due to a PED violation. Furthermore, he missed the final four games due to a concussion. In 2018, Irving came off the bench and saw action in only two games. He served a four-game suspension at the start of the 2019 season for smoking weed.

On March 1 of this year, the NFL suspended Irving for violating the antiquated and hypocritical NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Meanwhile, half the country has access to semi-legal marijuana with a majority of the league hopped up on steroids and painkillers.

Irving fired up Instagram and fired up a blunt and informed his followers the straight dope.

“Pass the blunt, bro,” said Irving. “Weed. You’re addicted to this and that. I mean, s–t, if I’m going to be addicted to something, I’d rather it be marijuana, which is medical. It’s medicine. I do not consider it a drug, rather than the Xanax bars or the Hydros or the Seroquel and all that crazy s–t that they feed you.”

He criticized the NFL’s harsh policy on marijuana and lenient policy on opiates.

“I’m not putting up with this s–t for no reason. Plant over pills,” said Irving.

No word on whether or not Irving will be playing in the XFL. Most recently, Johnny Manziel violated terms of his contract and league officials kicked him out the Canadian Football League. Perhaps we will see Johnny Football and David Irving blazing it up in the rebooted XFL?

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