Wakeup Call: It's a devil of a time for Ray Lewis

990593.jpg

Wakeup Call: It's a devil of a time for Ray Lewis

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, January 31:

BASEBALL
MLB plans to interview all the players mentioned in the Miami New Times story about PED use, which could lead to suspensions for A-Rod, Gio, et al. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Joe Torre would have loved to have Andy Pettitte pitch for him again -- this time in the World Baseball Classic -- but Pettitte, perhaps influenced the Yankees' strong desire to protect his increasingly fragile health, said no. (Hardball Talk)

Um, Yanks? There are players out there under the age of 35, you know. And we don't just mean Kevin Youkilis. (AP)

There once was a time when Jose Contreras wouldn't have been such a welcome figure returning for a visit to Cuba. (AP)

Chase Headley gets rewarded for his breakout year with an 8.575 million contract. (AP)

Old friend Bill Hall lands on his feet again. (Hardball Talk)

As does old friend Andy LaRoche. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
It's so far, so good for Michigan as the nation's No. 1 team. (AP)

UCLA's upset over then-No. 6 Arizona seems far, far away now that the Bruins have lost two straight, including last night's overtime defeat, at home, at the hands of archrival USC. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Miami? Unbeaten in the ACC? Really? (AP)

Indiana hands Purdue its worst home loss ever. (AP)

Stanford just has it in for Oregon, doesn't it? (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Dr. Phil's convinced: 1) Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was "deeply, romantically in love" with Manti Te'o; 2) Tuiasosopo concocted all the phony dead girlfriend stuff on his own, and 3) Te'o was a "victim" who had nothing to do with the hoax. (AP)

Jimmy Franklin tells Nicky Saban he's sorry. (AP)

Let me get this straight: The Big 12 wants to have a conference championship game but can't because -- despite its name -- it doesn't have 12 teams. So now it's going to ask the NCAA for permission to have one anyway. (AP)

No new trial for you, Sandusky. (AP)

GOLF
Deer-antler spray? Yeah, says Vijay Singh, I've done that . . . but I didn't know it was illegal. (AP)

HOCKEY
Can't win 'em all, right, Blackhawks? Although in the NHL, do shootout losses feel like real defeats? (CSN Chicago)

The Canadiens' four-game winning streak is over, thanks to the Senators. (AP)

Bobby Loo gets his first win of the season, and a shutout to boot, as the Canucks blank the Avalanche. (AP)

The Sabres' Patrick Kaleta will miss Buffalo's game against the Bruins tonight because of a neck injury he suffered Tuesday against the Maple Leafs. (AP)

And the Rangers' Ryan Callahan may miss as many as six games because of a shoulder injury that will sideline him for about two weeks. (AP)

Islanders forward Colin McDonald gets a two-game "vacation", courtesy of the NHL's discipline department, for boarding the Penguins' Ben Lovejoy. (AP)

The latest on trade updates in L.A.: Andrei Loktionov still wants out, but Jonathan Bernier's changed his mind. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

If you really believe this, Hasso, you ought to sit down with Jeremy Jacobs for a few. (CSN Bay Area)

Looks like the Coyotes' ownership mess isn't settled, after all. (AP)

Athletes aren't the only ones who can make jackasses of themselves -- and get punished for things they say -- on Twitter. (CSN Washington)

PRO BASKETBALL
Because the Heat won their championship in a lockout-shortened season, the Nets' Reggie Evans sniffed that it "doesn't prove nothing." Sufficiently riled, Miami went out and proved something in, and to, Brooklyn. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Just when things were gong so well for the Lakers . . . (AP)

To make matters worse -- much worse, perhaps -- Dwight Howard re-injures his shoulder. (Pro Basketball Talk)

And then there's the ongoing Pau GasolMike D'Antoni melodrama. (Pro Basketball Talk)

'Melo sets a Knicks franchise record with his 30th straight 20-point game in New York's win over the Magic. (AP)

That's nine in a row for the Spurs. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Ray Lewis says the report linking him to performance-enhancers, including deer-antler spray, is a "trick of the devil". (AP)

Because there haven't been enough deer-antlerI'm-the-best-receiver-ever distractions at this Super Bowl, 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver goes all Fred Flintstone on the topic of having a gay teammate. It led to swift condemnation from his team and one of the most unique "apologies" -- "The deregatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of the thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel . . . I pledge to learn and grow from this experience" -- I've ever seen. (CSN Bay Area)

Justin Smith's playing with half-an-arm -- figuratively, that is -- and will have surgery immediately after the Super Bowl, but he says he's not retiring. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Ravens want nothing to do with the Lombardi Trophy until they win it. (AP)

The FBI says there are no credible terror threats for this year's Super Bowl and "there is no safer place to be this week than the city of New Orleans." (AP)

Brett Favre's been out of the spotlight long enough, so he's going to work for the NFL Network this week. (AP)

Jerome Boger's been picked as the referee for the Super Bowl. (AP)

Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill is arrested on domestic assault charges. (AP)

TENNIS
First Sloane Stephens beats Serena Williams in the Australian Open. Then she takes her spot on the U.S. Fed Cup team . . . though it's probably because Williams has a bad back. (AP)

This Rafael Nadal comeback isn't going very smoothly, is it? (AP)

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.

"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."

Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition. 

"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.