Wakeup call: Reggie skips Cooperstown; T.O. avoids the slammer

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Wakeup call: Reggie skips Cooperstown; T.O. avoids the slammer

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Friday, July 20:

BASEBALL
Nick Swisher apparently still doesn't understand that most people hate the Yankees. (CSN Bay Area)

Not a surprise that after naming -- and, we assume, insulting and infuriating -- all those he deemed not worthy to be enshrined with Himself, Reggie Jackson is skipping the Hall of Fame ceremonies this weekend and is instead with the Yankees in Oakland. But if you want to know how he feels about the whole thing, he ain't talkin'. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

And speaking of the Yankees, Brett Gardner's done for the year. (NBC's Hardball Talk) Very little surprise there; he hasn't played since April 17.

The Ryan Dempster Watch is on. (CSN Chicago) He claims it's "business as usual," though how often do trade rumors swirl around you 247?

BASKETBALL
Dennis Rodman's father skipped out on him 42 years ago, but the other day they had a brief meeting. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk) You know the old saying about the apple not falling far from the tree . . . ?

Wonder if Chico's Bail Bonds ("Let Freedom Ring") is still looking to advertise? (AP)

COLLEGE
The latest on Joe Paterno: Ex-Georgetown coach John Thompson calls him "a damn good man" (NBC's College Basketball Talk), while Grambling -- the college where Eddie Robinson won 408 games, a total that was passed by Paterno less than two weeks before he was fired in the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal -- wants at least some of JoePa's victories vacated and their man returned to the top of the NCAA record book. (AP)

FOOTBALL
It wasn't a Leviathan ego that brought Brett Favre back for his disastrous 2010 swan song. It was the money. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The joy in Baltimore over Ed Reed deciding not to hold out has been tempered by his decision to hit free agency at the end of the year. (CSN Baltimore)

When Luis Castillo was a free agent this spring, he visited both the Patriots and the Chiefs before re-signing with San Diego. Yesterday, the Chargers released him. (AP)

The NFL hit Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins with a one-game suspension for a violation of the league's substance-abuse program. (AP) Don't ask what substance, because they didn't say.

What a relief: T.O.'s not going to jail. (AP)

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.