Wakeup Call: A team-by-team tag look

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Wakeup Call: A team-by-team tag look

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, February 18:

AUTO RACING
Of all the congratulations Danica Patrick received for becoming the first woman to win the pole at the Daytona 500, the one that may mean the most to her came from Janet Guthrie, who broke NASCAR's gender barrier in 1976. (AP)

A look at Patrick down through the years. (nbcsports.com)

BASEBALL
Despite an "absolutely terrible" offseason spent recovering from a broken ankle that he says he probably could have avoided had he not tried to play through pain, Derek Jeter vows to be ready for Opening Day. (AP)

Just be ready for April 24, Derek. You don't want to miss "Joe Maddon Gnome Bobblehead Night" at The Trop. (NBC's Off The Bench)

Whenever you do come back, Jose Reyes will be waiting. (CSN Baltimore)

Todd Helton apologizes and asks for forgiveness after his DUI arrest. (AP)

Paul Konerko realizes this may be his last go-round in the big leagues, but says he's ready for life after baseball. (AP)

Freddy Sanchez? At the end of the line? Wasn't it just yesterday he was the big Sox prospect in Pawtucket? (CSN Bay Area)

If you had Day One in the Matt Garza Injury Pool, congratulations! (CSN Chicago)

Yes, yes, that's Chipper Jones in Braves camp. No, no, he's not coming back. (AP)

Nick Swisher returns to the Indians after attending his mother's funeral. (AP)

Roger Clemens says he's "been friends" with, and "had some good times" with, Mike Piazza. With friends like that . . . (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The legend of Marshall Henderson continues to grow. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

A win is a win is a win, right, Jim Larranaga? Especially one that gets you to 12-0 in the ACC. (AP)

Don't be surprised if No. 20 Wisconsin and No. 13 Ohio State flop positions in the new AP poll today after the Badgers' 22-point thumping of the Buckeyes. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Ken Clark, one of the Nebraska's top all-time rushers, dies of a heart attack at age 46. (AP)

GOLF
Tiger Woods tunes up for this week's Match Play Championship by playing a round with President Obama. (AP)

When gets there, he'll be seeded second behind Rory McIlroy. (AP)

This weekend's winners: John Merrick at Riviera . . . (AP)

. . . Jiyai Shin in the Australian Women's Open . . . (AP)

. . . and Bernard Langer on the Champions Tour. (AP)

HOCKEY
You think Bill Belichick is bad? Try asking John Tortorella a question. (CSN Washington)

The Blackhawks beat the Kings and are now one away from tying the 2006-07 Ducks' record for consecutive games at the beginning of a season without a loss. (CSN Chicago)

The Blues follow a winless home stand with an undefeated road trip. (AP)

The Wild top the Red Wings for their first regulation victory since Jan. 29. (AP)

The Canadiens' rookie sensation, Brendan Gallagher, is out indefinitely because of a concussion. (AP)

The AHL game between Springfield and Adirondack is suspended in the second period when the Falcons' Wade MacLeod, a Columbus farmhand and ex-Northeastern player, suffers a seizure after being checked into the glass. MacLeod is reported to be stable and alert at a Springfield hospital. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
At long last, a Clipper is named MVP of the All-Star Game. (AP)

The injured James Harden not only gets to play in his hometown All-Star Game, but he scores 15 points and has some fun, to boot. (CSN Houston)

Kobe to LeBron: Get that stuff outta here. Twice! (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The NBA All-Stars play Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jordan's President Kennedy. (AP)

Jerry Colangelo on Deron Williams: I meant physically unfit, for God's sake! (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
A team-by-team look at the candidates for the dreaded franchise tag. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Alec Ogletree's recent DUI arrest, coming less than a year after his positive drug test, may be a boon for the Ravens. (Pro Football Talk)

TENNIS
Rafael Nadal's comeback is complete: He wins the Brazil Open. (AP)

Victoria Azarenka ends her 10-match losing streak against Serena Williams as she posts a 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 victory in the finals of the Qatar Open. (AP)

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

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Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.

Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

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Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the Dan Patrick Show -- hosted by Ross Tucker on Monday -- to discuss the petition that was eventually filed to the Second Circuit requesting a rehearing for Tom Brady's case. 

During the discussion, Smith insisted that Brady made a settlement offer long ago that might've resolved things. But because the NFL wanted more, a deal was never struck. Now here we are, almost 500 days since the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015, and Deflategate is still a living, breathing thing. 

"Tom's a standup guy," Smith said. "And I think he made a settlement offer to resolve this. The league chose not to take it, and that's where we are . . . I don't want to go into details, but it was an incredibly generous offer to resolve this. The league asked for something that no man should agree to do."

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran explained on Monday's episode of Quick Slants that Brady was willing to accept a one-game suspension for a lack of cooperation at the outset of the investigation. But the league was looking for a face to take the blame, Curran explained. 

Both Jim McNally and John Jastremski were willing to take the heat off of Brady, but Brady insisted that he would not throw anyone else under the bus because he believed that there was no wrongdoing on his part or anyone else's when it came to the preparation of game footballs. 

With no one offered up to shoulder the blame, the NFL declined to agree to any proposal from Brady's camp. At that point, it would have been almost impossible to predict that this case would one day be only a step or two from getting the US Supreme Court involved. 

Yet here we are.