First call: Bruce Gradkowski debunks Ben Roethlisberger ‘Fumblegate’ theory | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz

Tuesday’s “First Call” features a look at one of the most important nights of the season in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Antonio Brown has a Twitter message for those of us in the media. And Bruce Gradkowski chimes in on “Fumblegate.”


Response piece

Not every ex-Steeler is buying Josh Harris’ claim that Ben Roethlisberger fumbled on purpose.

Roethlisberger’s former backup, Bruce Gradkowski, found the same clip from the 2014 regular-season finale Harris did, which he used to suggest that Roethlisberger put the ball on the ground intentionally while winding down the clock. Harris’ theory is that Todd Haley sent in a play call Big Ben didn’t want to run.

The narration of the play from Harris got a lot of national attention. Gradkowski has a different spin.

It’ll be interesting to see if Harris claps back at Gradkowski’s explanation.


Monday motivation

Antonio Brown wants to let us in the media know that he has taken notice of what we have been writing and saying.

Mr. Big Chest posted this highly dramatic workout video, complete with a montage of negative headlines about him swirling around his head.

It also features a number of shots of him catching footballs and bonding with his new best friend, Derek Carr. And, Jon Gruden utters Brown’s signature catch phrase, “Business is Boomin’.”

It’s a typical piece of A.B. propaganda, conflating how hard he works with what type of guy he is.


Scoreboard watching

The Penguins face the Hurricanes at 7 p.m. Tuesday in North Carolina.

Carolina is trying to track down the Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins have 88 points to 85 for the Hurricanes, who currently hold the top wild-card spot.

The Islanders and Capitals have 91 points apiece. They are tied for first place. New York plays the Bruins on Tuesday at home while Washington is in New Jersey.

The other wild-card team, Columbus, is in Calgary. The Blue Jackets have 84 points. Montreal (81) and the Flyers (78) are the next two teams in the race. They play each other in Philadelphia.


Hero’s welcome

At age 45, Ichiro Suzuki can still throw.

The Mariners outfielder is back in Japan. He wanted to show off the cannon for the home folks on this fly ball.

Ichiro is hitting only .080 in spring training. But he will start the Mariners games in Japan against Oakland to begin the season on a 28-man expanded roster. After that, it’s unclear if he will continue playing for Seattle.

His last at-bat was May 2, 2018. At that point, he stepped aside to become a special assistant with the Mariners.

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