N ews item: Boston Red Sox owner John Henry shocked the baseball world when he abruptly declared that his team was no longer "a factor" in the negotiations for free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira.
My take: This is quite a setback for agent Scott Boras, who apparently thought Henry bore a striking resemblance to Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, the guy who rolled over and gave Alex Rodriguez that ridiculous $252 million contract eight years ago.
News item: Washington Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerrato waffled when answering a question about the future job security of coach Jim Zorn. Cerrato first answered, "Yeah," when asked whether Zorn would be back, then said the issue had not been discussed in the Redskins' front office.
My take: Cerrato said on a radio show that "It's business as usual in this building," which can't be too comforting for the guy who basically got the job on Daniel Snyder's whim and set himself up for a postseason fall by saying he felt "like the worst coach in the America" after the 'Skins lost to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals.
News item: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and running back J.J. Arrington probably will miss today's game against New England, which isn't good news for the teams competing with the Patriots for the last AFC wild-card berth.
My take: Not that it figures to make much difference. The Cardinals already are a playoff team, but they have not beaten a decent team on the road all season.
News item: Ravens cornerback Frank Walker denied that he intentionally spat into the mouth of Pittsburgh Steelers punter Mitch Berger, calling the incident an accidental "slobber moment."
My take: The NFL did not punish Walker because there was no conclusive video evidence that the saliva broke the plane of Berger's lips.
News item: Braves president John Schuerholz blasted the agents for shortstop Rafael Furcal, calling them "despicable" for allegedly backing out of a verbal agreement with Atlanta to sign a $30 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Schuerholz pledged that the Braves would never again deal with Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem.
My take: Schuerholz's outrage is sincere, but he'll eventually cool off and realize it's not practical for the Braves to isolate themselves from a significant group of players.
News item: Southern California guard Jeff Byers has successfully petitioned the NCAA for a sixth year of college eligibility.
My take: At this rate he might graduate from college and retire from the NFL the same year.
News item: Former Navy coach Paul Johnson has already received a new contract from Georgia Tech, signing an amended seven-year contract worth a total of $17.7 million.
My take: Who said the triple option might not work at the highest level of Division I? Oh, sorry, I think that was me.
News item: Shaquille O'Neal is just a few bricks short of becoming the second player in NBA history to miss 5,000 free throws.
My take: Could happen to anyone ... or at least anyone who has been fouled about 7,000 times in his career. That's got to hurt after a while.
News item: The word in Cleveland is that wide receiver Braylon Edwards wants out after four years of being "unappreciated" by Browns fans.
My take: Don't get too excited. Even if the Browns did want to trade him, they aren't going to deal him to a division rival that might be one big-play guy away from the Super Bowl.
News item: University of Maryland officials are denying a rumor circulating on the Web that they've sold just 16 tickets to the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.
My take: I'm sure there are several dozen Terps fans willing to travel to Idaho just to see Boise State's blue playing field and confirm that their HD big screens aren't on the fritz.
News item: Penn State coach Joe Paterno has signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him in place through his 85th birthday. Next year will be Joe Pa's 60th season as a head or assistant coach with the Nittany Lions.
My take: Just to put that in perspective, when he started out in 1950, he had to compete for players with the Korean War.
Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Fridays and Saturdays.