Wakeup Call: Culliver's anti-gay remarks a Super distraction

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Wakeup Call: Culliver's anti-gay remarks a Super distraction

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Friday, February 1:

AUTO RACING
Ex-NFL (and Boston College) linebacker Bill Romanowski's a NASCAR owner now. (AP)

That'll teach the No. 60 Ford Riley of Michael Shank Racing to make mechanical adjustments to the engine that result in "performance levels outside the documented maximums." (AP)

BASEBALL
Want to know why everyone expects the Orioles to fall back to the pack -- and perhaps behind it -- this year? Things like pondering the additions of Arthur Rhodes and Fernando Tatis are part of it. (Hardball Talk)

The Diamondbacks welcome Martin Prado to Arizona with a four-year, 40 million contract. (AP)

Looks like Scott Rolen might come back, after all. But with who? (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Not Omar Vizquel; he's giving up the chase for 3,000 hits -- stopping 123 hits short -- and, at age 45, becoming a roving infield instructor for the Angels. (AP)

LaTroy Hawkins is still around? (AP)

Mark Grace is going to jail. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 9 Butler says Saint Louis "just out-toughed us" in the Billikens' 75-58 upset, their largest victory margin ever against a ranked opponent. (AP)

The difference between playing at home and playing on the road: The seventh-ranked Penn State women beat Wisconsin by 44 at Happy Valley two weeks ago, but lost to the Badgers in Madison, 63-61, last night. (AP)

The sixth annual Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research raised a record 1.6 million this time around. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Amen. (CSN Chicago)

Seniors of the world, rejoice: 73-year-old Bill Snyder gets a five-year contract at Kansas State. (AP)

GOLF
With the controversy over his admission that he used deer-antler spray still swirling, Vijah Singh withdraws from the Phoenix Open, Because of a bad back, he says. (AP)

What controversy, you ask? Well, Mark O'Meara thinks Singh should be suspended "for a couple of months". (AP)

How about Bob Charles, then, who not only used the stuff for more than 20 years but was a spokesman for it? (AP)

And while all this was going on, Phil Mickelson -- no doubt happy that his own tax-talk brouhaha is now all but forgotten -- shoots a 60 and takes the first-round lead in Phoenix. (AP)

HOCKEY
The Penguins continue their domination of the Rangers in New York with a 3-0 win. (AP)

John Tortorella's excitable in the best of times, and these aren't the best of times for the Rangers. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

There's only one way to celebrate being 7-0-0, and that's by Kaepernicking. (CSN Bay Area)

The Predators beat the Kings in an eight-round shootout. (AP)

Old friend Zack Hamill is on the move again. (CSN Washington)

In hockey, even the coaches are tough. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
The Rudy Gay-less Grizzles were no match for the Thunder . . . (AP)

. . . who won despite a little intramural squabbling, courtesy of Russell Westbrook. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Ricky Rubio's not happy about the way he's being treated in Minnesota, and he's also not happy about the way Pau Gasol's being treated in Los Angeles. (AP)

Doug Collins wants everyone to curb their enthusiasm about Andrew Bynum's alleged return. (CSN Philly)

And do the same for Derrick Rose's, while you're at it. (CSN Chicago)

Just make that 25,000 check out to the NBA, Dwane Casey. (AP)

Your All-Star captains: Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. (AP)

Brandon Roy has another setback in his recovery. (AP)

Nick Van Exel's 22-year-old son is convicted of murder. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Chris Culliver's backpedaling from those anti-gay-teammate comments faster than he backpedals when covering the quickest of receivers. (AP)

Bill Belichick's mantra to the Patriots is "Ignore the noise." But what happens when one of your players made the noise? (CSN Bay Area)

Adding to the noise: Seahawks punter Jon Ryan demanding that Culliver be suspended. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Ravens? They'd welcome a gay teammate, says Terrell Suggs. (Pro Football Talk)

Thankfully for the 49ers, the Ravens' Ed Reed is making some noise of his own. (CSN Baltimore)

Looks like the Harbaughs learned to share at an early age. (CSN Bay Area)

Joe Flacco's contract is up after the Super Bowl, but Ozzie Newsome says "as long as I'm general manager in Baltimore, hopefully he's the quarterback in Baltimore." (Pro Football Talk)

Flacco, meanwhile, says his impending free agency is not an issue. (AP)

The 18-game-season talk is circulating again, and Bernard Pollard wishes it would stop. (CSN Baltimore)

Jerry Rice says he doesn't "need to talk about being the best receiver" -- something Randy Moss has been yapping about this week -- but he will talk about the fact that, uh, unlike Moss, he "never took any plays off," he "always gave 100 percent" and that there's "a big difference" between "my body of work compared to" Moss'. To steal from Robert DeNiro in 'Goodfellas': You gonna take that, Randy? (AP)

Three black ex-head coaches -- Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards and Jim Caldwell -- say the Rooney Rule isn't working when no minority candidates were hired for the eight vacancies that popped up this year. (AP)

The NFL and NFLPA are squabbling again, this time over the issue of player safety. (AP)

And in a step in that direction, the union wants the Chargers' team physician -- who lost a malpractice lawsuit last summer -- replaced. (AP)

Mike Holmgren? Coach again? Nah. (Pro Football Talk)

Donald Driver? Play again? Nah. (AP)

Arian Foster may have surgery to correct the irregular heartbeat that forced him out of a game this year. (Pro Football Talk)

With the New York Post nipping at the story, Dan Marino comes clean: He admits he has a 7-year-old child with a production assistant he worked with at CBS, but that he's taken full financial responsibility for the child, and that his wife of 30 years and the six children he has with her are aware of it all. (Pro Football Talk)

Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill is being held on 150,000 bail after his arrest on domestic assault charges. (AP)

The judge rejected his "post-concussion syndrome which left me mentally impaired" defense, so ex-NFL cornerback Will James -- who also went by the name Will Peterson during his years in the league -- is headed to jail for failing to file a federal income tax return in 2005, when he earned 5.5 million. (AP via CSN Philly)

TENNIS
John Isner is recovered from a knee injury and ready to lead the U.S. against Brazil in the first round of the Davis Cup. (AP)

X GAMES
Snowmobiler Caleb Moore dies of injuries suffered in a crash at the Winter X Games. (AP via nbcsports.com)

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.

 

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.