COVID Deaths Top 400,000 on Trump’s Last Day in Office

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Vice President-Elect Joe Biden, his wife Dr. Jill Biden,

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 19, 2021

On his last full day in office, President Donald Trump is leaving the White House with his legacy stained by a global pandemic. In February, he said it would “disappear, like a miracle” from our shores. Now, nearly a year later, COVID-19 is still spreading across the country. More than 24 million cases have been reported in America; today there are more than 400,000 deaths.

As CNN noted today, that’s more than the number of Americans who died in World War I, Vietnam War and the Korean War combined. It’s nearly as many Americans who died in World War II. That death toll of 400,000 is far higher than any other country’s COVID-19 death toll.

Today, a memorial service for the victims took place in the District of Columbia. According to USA Today, the brief service was kicked off by an invocation from Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington. It was capped by a performance from Houston-born gospel singer Yolanda Adams, who sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” 

Tonight, the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is lined with 400 lights, representing those 400,000 lives lost. In a visual memorial for the victims, the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool featured 400 lights illuminating on its north and south sides, in striking contrast with the rest of the National Mall dark. It is the first-ever lighting around the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris joined their spouses in front of that display tonight, observing a moment of silence to remember those we have lost.

“Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along this sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we lost,” Biden said today.

“It’s hard sometimes to remember,” the president-elect said at the memorial service, held at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. “But that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here.”

Tonight, Mr. Biden and his family are staying at the Blair House, the official guesthouse of the White House. The Blair House is merely two minutes from the White House, which is also illuminated. Surprisingly, the White House flag remains at full-staff.

Bucs Best Saints in Divisional Game

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By Terrance Turner

Jan. 17, 2021

In what may be Drew Brees’ final game, his New Orleans Saints battled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the New Orleans Superdome. The Buccaneers cashed in on four turnovers to win out over the Saints, 30-20.

There wasn’t a ton of offense early on. Saints kicker Wil Lutz kicked two field goals for New Orleans. Bucs kicker Ryan Succop made a field goal to make it 6-3. After the field goal, Brees was intercepted by Bucs’ Murphy-Bunting. Murphy-Bunting returned the pick for 36 yards. That set up a touchdown pass from Brady to wide receiver Mike Evans. That gave Tampa Bay a 10-6 lead.

Taysom Hill tossed the ball to Saints quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw deep across the field to wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith. That 56-yard touchdown made it 13-10. The Bucs got the ball back and settled for a field goal after a would-be touchdown by Chris Godwin got overturned. Succop nailed the field goal to tie the game. It was 13-13 at the half.

In the second half, turnovers made the difference. Brees found Tre’Quan Smith for the touchdown. The Saints had a 20-13 lead, but it was all downhill from there. On the Bucs’ drive, Ronald Jones too off; the Saints defense surrounded him, but he still pushed forward for the first down. Then Bucs running back Leonard Fournette ran in for the touchdown. The game was again tied, at 20-20.

The Saints went three-and-out. But the Buccaneers had a socring drive. An incredible 15-yard catch by Tyler Johnson wowed observers, and Scotty Miller had a big catch after that. A 29-yard completion on 3rd and 5 helped set up another Succop field goal. That made it 23-20.

On the Saints’ next drive, Brees was picked by Devin White. That was his third turnover of the game, and Tampa Bay cashed in. Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught a pass from Brady — his first catch of the postseason. Gronk’s 13-yard catch put the Buccaneers at 1st and goal. Then Brady scored with a 1-yard touchdown run! That extended the Bucs’ lead.

With the fourth quarter ticking away, the Saints had little time to mount a comeback. But Brees got picked off again — the fourth turnover by the Saints. The Bucs held on to the ball just long enough to last past the two-minute warning. They won, 30-20. Brady is now on his way to his 14th conference championship. The Buccaneers will play the Green Bay Packers in next week’s NFC Championship Game.

During the game, word broke that this will be the last game Drew Brees plays at the Superdome. NFL analyst Jay Glazer reported today that Brees will retire after the season concludes. Brees will retire as the all-time leader in passing yards and completions. He helped bring New Orleans a Super Bowl title after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. And as he left the Superdome, Brees turned back, giving his home stadium of nearly 20 years one last look.

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UPDATE: NFL reporter James Palmer shared a video of Brady and Brees chatting on the field after tonight’s game. The two quarterbacks were joined on the field by their kids. Brady even played catch with one of Brees’ sons. After he caught the ball in the end zone, Brady remarked: “We could’ve used you tonight!” Palmer captured a sweet moment:

Chiefs Beat Browns In Dramatic Finish

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By Terrance Turner

Jan. 17, 2021

The Kansas City Chiefs played the Cleveland Browns today in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Missouri. The Chiefs (14-1) are seeking a second consecutive Super Bowl berth; Cleveland is in the playoffs for the first tine since 2002. It was high drama in Arrowhead today, but Kansas City somehow pulled off yet another close-call, heart-stopping win.

On their opening drive, Kansas City had 5 runs and four passes before the climactic scoring plays. On 3rd and 2, wide receiver Tyreek Hill got a first-down catch. On 1st and goal, Williams was just short. Then quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran into the end zone for a touchdown. Kicker Harrison Butker missed the extra-point kick, but Mahomes’ 1-yard run put the team ahead 6-0.

The Browns mounted a drive in spite of an injury to their left tackle. At 3rd and 21, they barely evaded a delay of game. On 4th and 17, a 46-yard field goal was good. That made it 6-3. The Chiefs took back over. Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman had a 41-yard run, then picked up nine more on the next play for a first down. Byron Pringle also achieved a first-down to end the first quarter.

The second quarter began with a near-catastrophe. After a disastrous snap, Mahomes managed to snap the ball to Hill. Mahomes ran near the two-yard line, but a holding penalty on Austin Reiter wiped out the gain. On 2nd and 17, tight end Travis Kelce had a 20-yard touchdown reception. This time, the extra point was good. That made it 13-3.

The Browns had worse luck. WR Jarvis Landry had a great catch negated by a holding penalty. Running back Bradley Chubb dropped two passes. Then, on 3rd and 20, the ball was batted back and sonehow caught by QB Baker Mayfield. But the team still lost eight yards on the play.

The Chiefs’ drive saw two penalties on the offense, and Mahomes struggled with a foot injury sustained earlier. Though he ran 13 yards for a first down, Mahomes was gimpy. He walked gingerly after each successive play. The Chiefs were stopped on 3rd down by Browns defensive end Adrian Clayborn, setting up a field goal. Kicker Harrison Butker drilled a 50-yard field goal to make it 16-3.

The Browns got the ball back, embarking on a promising drive. They managed a 26-yard play at the two-minute warning. Wide receiver Tee Higgins had 23 yards and got the ball on the next play. Higgins was this close to scoring. But as he dived towards the end zone with the ball, he collided with Chiefs defender Daniel Sorensen. The ball was knocked free and bounced in the end zone. The result was a touchback, resulting in a first down for Kansas City. They cashed in on the turnover. Butker nailed a 28-yard field goal attempt to make it 19-3 at the half.

In the second half, the momentum switched wildly. Safety Tyrann Mathieu had a huge interception — the first in 10 games by Baker Mayfield. But the Chiefs did nothing with it. Butker missed a 33-yard field goal. That miss would be costly: the Browns scored on their next possession to make it 19-10. Then Mahomes got hurt on the Chiefs’ next drive: what looked like a big shoulder-to-shoulder hit took him to the ground. Mahomes needed help getting up and looked woozy as he went to the sideline. He would soon jog to the locker room, where he was evaluated. Mahomes has a concussion. He was ruled out for the rest of the game.

Backup QB Chad Henne came in. On 4th and inches, Chiefs running back Darrel Williams took off for a first down. Then he gained 17 yards. But the Browns stopped the Chiefs on 3rd down. On 4th down, Kansas City elected to go for a field goal. This time, Butker came through, making a 33-yard field goal to extend the lead. The Chiefs led, 22-10.

The Browns ran all over the Chiefs defense, converting two fourth downs. The eight-minute drive was successful; running back Kareem Hunt ran in for the touchdown. (Hunt formerly played for Kansas City.) That made it 22-17.

A promising Chiefs drive ended horribly. Tyreek Hill made an incredible catch in contested coverage, pinning the ball to his thigh. (Cleveland challenged the play, to no avail.) Then Travis Kelce made a great catch. But it was wiped out by a late flag; a “chopback block” cost them 15 yards. Then Henne threw an interception.

The Browns took over. But the Chiefs defense stepped up. They managed to shut down the Browns offense, forcing Mayfield to throw the ball away and then tackling Kareem Hunt. That gave the Chiefs the ball back. And as the fourth quarter ran under five minutes, the pressure on the Kansas City Chiefs was immense. They had the lead, and the ball. But could they hold on?

Yes! On a heart-stopping final drive, the Chiefs moved down the field. On 3rd and 14, Henne ran 13 yards and dove head-first towards a Browns defender, sacrificing his body to make the play. He came just inches from the first down marker and was ruled just short. On 4th and inches, Chiefs coach Andy Reid made a gamble. But it paid off big: Henne threw to Hill for a first down, ending the game. The Chiefs won, 22-17. They will face the Bills in the AFC Championship Game.

After the game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid provided background on Mahomes’ injury and condition: “He got hit in the back of the head, and it kind of knocked the wind out of him,” Reid said, “so we took him out. He’s doing great right now, which is a real positive as we looked at this.” Reid added: “He’s actually doing really well. I just talked to him and he’s doing good. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

UPDATE (Jan. 18, 2021): Today, Coach Reid said that Mahomes is still in concussion protocol: “He’s in the protocol, and we’ll just follow that and see how he does here in the next couple days,” Reid said Monday, per Matt McMullen. But Reid admitted: “I can’t tell you from a medical standpoint where he’s at. I don’t know that.”

He added: “There’s a day-to-day plan on that and how they go about it. Especially if a player staggers right there, they’ve got to go through some things. That ends up being important.” It is unclear if Mahomes will be able to play in next week’s AFC Championship Game.

Meanwhile, Mahomes’ backup Chad Henne drew praise for his performance at the end of the game. Tight end Travis Kelce praised Henne for his “gutsy play”, saying: “Everybody knew that he had that in him to be able to put his body on the line for the team, and we love him for it.” Kelce lauded Henne for his professionalism and work ethic: “First of all, he’s a professional. He comes to work every single day, knowing that he’s just a snap away from calling the plays and leading us to victory. Second of all, he’s a competitor, man. That guy — no matter what it is — he’s ready and he’s fired up and ready to go, and we love him for it.”

House Votes to Impeach Trump (Again)

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By Terrance Turner

Jan. 13, 2021

Speaker Nancy Pelosi presides over the impeachment vote. Photo from the AP.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have cast votes to impeach President Trump again in a historic first, according to CNN. The final vote was 232-197. “On this vote, the ayes are 232; the nays are 197. The resolution is adopted,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, banging her gavel. The impeachment resolution charges Trump with a single article, “incitement of insurrection,” for his role in last week’s deadly Capitol riot.

In the end, 232 House members voted to impeach the President, including 10 (!) Republicans. They are: Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Rep. John Katko (N.Y.), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Rep. Peter Meijer (Mich.), Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Rep. Tom Rice (S.C.), Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), and Rep. David Valadao (Calif.). “This is the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the history of the United States,” said CNN reporter Phil Mattingly.

The next step is a trial. But the soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office told the Associated Press. Though Trump won’t be convicted before his term is up, impeachment is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running for office again. (If convicted, Trump would lose funding for traveling and office staff, according to lawyer and View co-host Sunny Hostin. Trump would also lose the presidential pension: $200,000 a year, for life.)

McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday. McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist. But in a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote.”

As soon as the gavel came down, Trump became the only President in history to be impeached twice. The vote took place after hours of vigorous and often heated debate.

At around 11:15 am, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opened debate with a poignant seven-minute speech. In her remarks, Pelosi noted that “in his annual address to our predecessors in Congress in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of the duty of the Patriot, in an hour of decisive crisis for the American people. ‘Fellow citizens,’ he said, ‘we cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves; no personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We, even we here,’ he said, ‘hold the power and bear the responsibility.’ In the Bible St. Paul wrote, ‘Think on these things.’ We must think on what Lincoln told us,” Pelosi said.

“We, even here — even us, here — hold the power and bear the responsibility. We, you and I, hold and trust the power that derives most directly from the people of the United States, and we bear the responsibility to fulfill that oath that we all swear before God and before one another: that oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God.

We know that we face enemies of the Constitution; we know that we experienced the insurrection that violated the sanctity of the people’s Capitol and attempted to overturn the duly recorded will of the American people. And we know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Pelosi continued: “Since the presidential election in November — an election the president lost — he has repeatedly lied about the outcome, sowed self-serving doubt about democracy, and unconstitutionally sought to influence state officials to repeal reality. And then came that day of fire we all experienced.

The president must be impeached, and I believe the president must be convicted by the Senate, a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who was so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear, and that hold us together.

It gives me no pleasure to say this. It breaks my heart. It should break your heart. It should break all of our hearts, for your presence in this hallowed chamber is testament to your love for our country, for America, and to your faith in the work of our founders to create a more perfect union.

Those insurrectionists were not patriots. They were not part of a political base to be catered to and managed. They were domestic terrorists, and justice must prevail. But they did not appear out of a vacuum. They were sent here by the president with words such as a cry to ‘Fight like hell.’ Words matter. Truth matters. Accountability matters. In his public exhortations to them, the president saw the insurrectionists, not as the foes of freedom, as they are, but as the means to a terrible goal, the goal of his personally clinging to power, the goal of thwarting the will of the people,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi asked her colleagues: “I ask you to search your souls and answer these questions. Is the president’s war on democracy in keeping with the Constitution? Were his words and insurrectionary mob a high crime and misdemeanor? Do we not have the duty to our oath to do all we constitutionally can do to protect our nation and our democracy from the appetites and ambitions of a man who has self-evidently demonstrated that he is a vital threat to liberty, to self-government, and to the rule of law?”

Rep. Jim Jordan answered none of those questions. Instead, he talked about a four-year-old article in a local paper. “On Jan. 20, 2017, 19 minutes into President Trump’s administration, at 12:19 p.m., The Washington Post’s headline was ‘Campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.’ Now, with just one week left, they are still trying.” Jordan argued that the impeachment was an example of “cancel culture”, that Democrats were trying to cancel the president.

Jordan offered little commentary about the riot itself. Instead, he threw out false equivalence between the Capitol riots and the Black Lives Matter protests this summer: “Riots are OK for some,” he claimed. “Democrats can raise bail for rioters and looters this summer. But somehow when Republicans condemn all the violence, the violence this summer, the violence last week, somehow we’re wrong.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: 93% of Black Lives Matter protests this summer were peaceful. Yet black protesters were met with chemical dispersants, rubber bullets and hand-to-hand combat from police. More than 14,000 arrests were made, per the Associated Press. But when pro-Trump white people stormed the Capitol — swarming steps, climbing walls, smashing windows, breaking glass, throwing fire extinguishers, acting like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD — police welcomed them through barricades and in some cases took selfies with them. Barely more than a few dozen arrests. Members of a wild mob were escorted from the premises, some not even in handcuffs. But Rep. Jordan didn’t mention that.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy was more measured. He not only condemned the riots but held Trump accountable for them. “Madam Speaker, let me be clear: last week’s violent attack on the Capitol was undemocratic, un-American and criminal. Violence is never a legitimate form of protest. Freedom of speech and assembly under the constitution is rooted in non-violence. Yet the violent mob that descended upon this body was neither peaceful nor democratic. It acted to disrupt Congress’s constitutional responsibility.” He, too, quoted Lincoln:  “A young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln famously said, ‘There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’ Yet for several hours last week, mob law tried to interfere with constitutional law.”

McCarthy added: “The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” But he added: “I believe impeaching the President in such a short timeframe would be a mistake.” That line was echoed by Republicans throughout the day.

Trump Banned From Twitter; House Dems Prepare to Impeach Him (Again)

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By Terrance Turner

Jan. 8, 2021

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, holds her weekly press conference at the US Capitol on January 7, 2021, in Washington, DC. Pelosi called for the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to be invoked, following the attack on the US Capitol. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“In calling for this seditious act, the President has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the Vice President to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the Vice President and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.”

With these words, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made clear her intention to hold the President accountable for inciting a deadly, seditious riot on Wednesday afternoon. But Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland have already distributed a draft article of impeachment titled “Incitement of Insurrection,” according to NBC News. The article, which at present is singular, begins: “Resolved, that Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Article I: “Incitement of Insurrection,” reminds the reader that the House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach a President, based on the rather nebulous “high crimes and misdemeanors”. It continues as follows: “In his conduct of the office of President to the United States — and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States,” they write, “Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump addressed his supporters at a rally, ahead of a congressional vote that would cement the victory of his opponent. During that rally, he repeated a variety of false claims. “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide,” he lied. “They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before.” He encouraged the crowds to march on the Capitol in protest of what he insisted was a “stolen” election: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He spoke to the misplaced anger and victimhood the supporters felt, inflaming it further: “Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore […] You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

While Congress was meeting to certify Biden’s win as President-Elect,, the mob of Trump supporters showed their strength — by swarming the Capitol building and bursting inside. The House members credit Trump with emboldening the mob, writing that he “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”

“Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement, menaced members of Congress and the Vice President [and] engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts,” the Article of Insurrection reads. Indeed, the mob stormed the steps, forced their way into the building, and even scuffled with law enforcement (on video!). They climbed the walls and broke glass windows. They trespassed into government offices and put their feet up on desks. They vandalized doors and even stole furniture. In the end, five people died in the melee yesterday, including a Capitol Police officer.

But far from being upset by the fracas, Trump seemed to relish it. A video has emerged of him and his family watching the carnage onscreen, with son Don, Jr. live-streaming the event; his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle is seen dancing to the ’80s hit “Gloria”. And CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins said the President was “enthusiastic” about it: “He did not come out outright and condemn it. Actually, they had to convince him to send in the National Guard. He was very resistant to that at the beginning. And I’m told by one person that he was borderline enthusiastic over watching people wearing his sweatshirts, waving his flags going up to Capitol Hill and derailing the certification process, which is what the president wanted,” she told Don Lemon.

One Republican senator backed up Collins’ account. “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt in an interview. “That was happening. He was delighted.”

House Reps. Lieu, Raskin and Cicilline write that Trump’s actions were part of a pattern of behavior intended to subvert the election. “Those efforts include, but are not limited to, a phone call on Jan. 2, 2021, in which the President of the United States urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the Georgia presidential election results and threatened Mr. Raffensperger if he failed to do so.” Now, a bombshell CNN report reveals that Trump made other calls to achieve his goal.

CNN says that while riots raged at the Capitol, Trump was calling senators in yet another attempt to overturn the election. Trump called Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) Wednesday afternoon, thinking he was calling Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama). “Trump first called the personal cell phone of Lee, a Utah Republican, shortly after 2 p.m. ET. At that time the senators had been evacuated from the Senate floor and were in a temporary holding room, as a pro-Trump mob began breaching the Capitol. Lee picked up the phone and Trump identified himself, and it became clear he was looking for Tuberville and had been given the wrong number. Lee, keeping the President on hold, went to find his colleague and handed Tuberville his phone, telling him the President was on the line and had been trying to reach him.”

Tuberville spoke with Trump for less than 10 minutes, CNN says. Trump tried to convince him to object further to the Electoral College vote, in a futile effort to block Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win, according to a source familiar with the call. The call was cut off because senators were asked to move to a secure location.

In the wake of this seditious activity, social media platforms are taking action. After temporarily suspending him, Twitter announced today that it is banning Donald Trump from posting on the platform. “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action.” The ban does not apply, however, to the @POTUS account.

But it’s the latest in a series of blows to Trump on social media. After Trump recorded a video urging protesters to go home — saying, “We love you. You are very special” — Facebook and YouTube took down the video, with Facebook also banning Trump from posting for 24 hours. Snapchat and Instagram locked Trump’s account.

UPDATE: Trump has begun tweeting from the @POTUS account, insisting that “We will not be SILENCED!!!” He added that he would “also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future.” Twitter has taken the tweets down.

UPDATE (Jan. 11, 2021): The representatives have introduced an updated version of the impeachment resolution. The language is largely reminiscent of the earlier draft. As in the previous version, this version alleges that Trump’s incitement of the riot is part of a pattern of behavior: “President Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, followed his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. Those prior efforts included a phone call on Jan. 2, 2021, during which President Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffensperger if he failed to do so.”

UPDATE (Jan. 12, 2021): A bombshell new report from the New York Times alleges that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is actually pleased with House Democrats’ impeachment of President Trump. “Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country,” the Times reports.

At the same time, House Minority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign after the riot at the Capitol last week, according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations. Despite being one of Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, McCarthy is considering joining fellow Republicans like Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger in requesting the President’s resignation. While Mr. McCarthy has said he is personally opposed to impeachment, he and other party leaders have decided not to formally lobby Republicans to vote “no,” the Times added. An aide to Mr. McCarthy said he was open to a measure censuring Mr. Trump for his conduct.

And one House Republican says he will even vote for impeachment. According to syracuse.com, U.S. Rep. John Katko said today he will vote to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting a riot last week at the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Katko is the first House Republican to acknowledge that he will join at least 218 House Democrats who signed onto an impeachment resolution. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in a statement. 

BREAKING: Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (of Wyoming) says that she will vote to impeach the President. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President,” Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

JUST IN (7:11 pm): In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Mike Pence says he will not invoke the 25th Amendment to have Trump removed from office: “Every American was shocked and saddened by the attack on our Nation’s Capitol last week, and I am grateful for the leadership that you and other congressional leaders provided in reconvening Congress to complete the people’s business on the very same day,” Pence writes. “But now, with just eight days left in the President’s term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment.”

“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence declares. “I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.” Pence argues that invoking the 25th now would “set a terrible precedent”. He concludes:

“I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment. Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.”

This move sets up a showdown in Congress, as the House is set to vote on impeachment tomorrow. Today, Rep. Adam Kinzinger joined fellow Republicans Liz Cheney and John Katko in saying that he would vote for impeachment. They join over 100 House Republicans who have pledged to do the same.

Tonight, in a statement on her website, Speaker Nancy Pelosi named Impeachment Managers. “Tonight, I have the solemn privilege of naming the Managers of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump,” said Speaker Pelosi.  “It is their constitutional and patriotic duty to present the case for the President’s impeachment and removal.  They will do so guided by their great love of country, determination to protect our democracy and loyalty to our oath to the Constitution.  Our Managers will honor their duty to defend democracy For The People with great solemnity, prayerfulness and urgency.”

The Impeachment Managers include:

Congressman Jamie Raskin, Lead Manager: Congressman Jamie Raskin is a member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, where he serves as Chair of Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and on the Judiciary Committee, where he serves as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution. Before his time in Congress, Raskin was a three-term State Senator in Maryland and a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years.

Congressman David Cicilline: Congressman Cicilline is a member of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee.  He is serving his sixth term in Congress.  Early in his career, Cicilline served as a public defender in D.C. He served two terms as Mayor of Providence and four terms in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

Congressman Ted Lieu: Congressman Lieu serves on the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  He is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force who served as a prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and currently serves as a Colonel in the Reserves.  He is serving his fourth term in Congress.

Congressman Joaquin Castro: Congressman Castro serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is also Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.  He is serving his fifth term in Congress.  Prior to his election to Congress, he served five terms in the Texas Legislature and served as a litigator in private practice.

Congressman Eric Swalwell: Congressman Swalwell serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and on the Judiciary Committee.  He is a former prosecutor and is the son and brother of law enforcement officers.  He is serving his fifth term in Congress.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette: Congresswoman DeGette serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee as Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.  She is serving her 13th term in office. Before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, DeGette was an attorney focusing on civil rights.

Please watch this space for any continuing updates.

Pro-Trump Mob Storms U.S. Capitol; National Guard Activated

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By Terrance Turner

Jan. 6, 2021

A horde of pro-Trump protesters insurrectionists have descended on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They breached police lines to gather on the Capitol steps and have now entered the building. Their presence en masse has interrupted Congressional proceedings on certifying President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Violence has erupted; the Virginia state police and the entire National Guard have been activated.

According to Axios, “Capitol police ordered lawmakers and reporters to shelter in place within the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, as protesters at a “March for Trump” breached the building following Congress beginning to certify Electoral College votes for Joe Biden. Where it stands: The House and Senate are in recess and all the doors are now closed in the House Chambers, per Axios reporters on the ground. Vice President Mike Pence, overseeing the certification of Electoral College votes, left the Senate chamber shortly after 2 p.m.” (All times are in Eastern Standard Time.)

CNN is now reporting (as of approx. 2:50 pm EST) that an armed standoff is occurring at the door of the front door of the House building. That detail has now been confirmed by Bloomberg News reporter Erik Wasson:

Shortly afterward, some of the protesters have begun scuffling with law enforcement:

Video has emerged of police ALLOWING these insurrectionists to breach police blockades and enter the Capitol, which laid the groundwork for them to gather near the Senate chamber:

https://twitter.com/kylenabecker/status/1346938352138903552

UPDATE (2:25 pm): Live on CNN, rioters were shown breaking into the Capitol building, breaking a window and climbing inside:

The incident occurred roughly 40 minutes ago. In the past hour, word broke that shots had been fired inside the Capitol building. A woman is reportedly in critical condition after being shot in the chest while inside the building.

BREAKING (4:13 PM): President-Elect Joe Biden is speaking live on the violent siege at the Capitol: “This is not dissent. It’s disorder, it’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward,” he says. He calls on President Trump to address the nation on television and call for an end to the violence: “”I call on President trump to go on national television now ,and demand an end to this siege,” he says. “I call on the president to go on national television right now and uphold his oath to defend the constitution.”

Biden continues his remarks by quoting Abraham Lincoln: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.” He concludes: “I’m not concerned about my safety, security or the inauguration. The American people are going to stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.”

As he speaks, more is developing. The News Station Managing editor Matt Lasslo tweeted at 3:11 pm: “BREAKING: PROTESTERS JUST BREACHED THE NORTH DOOR OF THE CAPITOL. AGAIN. ‘Really? Again?’ one of the heroic, exhausted and frustrated Capitol Police officers escorting me and a crew of others out of the complex just said to his colleagues.”

The President has spoken — finally. In a recorded video message, he urged supporters to go home — and repeated the lie about his election loss. “This was a fraudulent election,” Trump insisted. “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law & order.”

It s a cruel irony that the “law and order president” somehow presided over a violent insurrection that endangered scores of elected officials and the officers who were injured trying to control the crowds. “Where are the arrests?” asked CNN commentator Gloria Borger. “When it was Black Lives Matter, they had people in riot gear ringing the Capitol, as if it was gonna be stormed,” Anderson Cooper noted. By contrast, mostly white pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol steps and broke into the building, and police were shown on camera observing.

Many are noting the contrast in how these protesters are acting — and have been treated — versus Black Lives Matter protesters. When Black Lives Matter protesters were blocks away from the Capitol, a massive National Guard presence was there on the steps. Police were quick to subdue and arrest them. But when pro-Trump white people stormed the capitol — climbing walls, breaking glass, stealing podiums, acting like beasts of the Southern wild — it took hours for the National Guard to arrive. Police let them in and in some cases stood by, watching, as they ransacked the Capitol.

When BLM protests broke out over the summer in response to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, pundits (many conservative) assailed the protesters as violent thugs. Arrests, tear-gassing, and even rubber bullets became commonplace. Peaceful protesters were tear-gassed in D.C. so that Trump could pose with a Bible for a photo-op back in June. But it was these pro-Trump protesters who stormed the Capitol and breached barricades in a thuggish display of opposition. And they were allowed to do so. CNN anchor Don Lemon pointed out the dichotomy:

UPDATE (app. 5pm EST): Riot gear police have FINALLY arrived on the scene and are assembling on the Capitol steps. They are walking, slowly, down the stairs and dispersing the crowds from the stairs. This has only occurred after HOURS of mayhem by the MAGA crowd.

UPDATE: 5:13 pm CST: The woman who was shot in the chest during today’s melee has died. That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Nancy Pelosi says that Congress will proceed with today’s scheduled vote on certification. Congress will certify Joe Biden’s victory, she says. It is unclear whether or not the 13 senators who pledged to object will continue to do so. It remains to be seen whether those senators will commit to the idiotic and futile plan that engendered today’s violence.

In the meantime, Donald Trump faces criticism for encouraging the rebellion: he had, after all, told his supporters at a rally today to march to the Capitol. But instead of apologize for ginning up this melee, Trump sent a tweet that justifies the violence and mayhem this afternoon. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he tweeted. Twitter removed the tweet due to a violation of its rules. But the damage is done.

The publication Mother Jones is declaring Trump a “terrorist leader“. There is talk of enacting the 25th Amendment, which removes a president from office if he proves to be unfit. But one menber of Congress has other plans for Trump. Rep. Ilhan Omar says she is drafting articles of impeachment. “Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate,” wrote Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota. “We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”

UPDATE: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency in D.C. for 15 days — extending through the end of Trump’s term.

J.J. Watt Delivers Epic Rant After Latest Loss for Texans; Watson May Seek Trade

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By Terrance Turner

Dec. 27, 2020 (Updated Dec. 30, Jan. 7)

Photo from Getty Images.

The Texans lost. Again.

It’s not the first time that’s happened this season. Two weeks ago, the Texans lost in a blowout: 36-7, to the Chicago Bears. That loss officially eliminated them from playoff contention.

Last week, the Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts. With less than 30 seconds left, Texans wide receiver Keke Coutee fumbled at the two-yard line. It was the second time this season the team has lost to Indianapolis after a goal-line fumble. The Texans lost to the Colts, 27-20.

Today, they lost again, to the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had his shoulder grabbed by Bengal Sam Hubbard, causing a strip-sack with 1:28 left. Cincinnati sealed their historic road win with a field goal. Despite Watson’s three touchdowns, the Texans lost, 37-31.

It’s their fourth straight loss. After a season in which their coach was fired, their best receiver was traded, and their offense stifled, the Texans have lost 73% of their games. They are now 4-11.

Defensive end J.J. Watt was visibly frustrated after the loss. In a postgame press conference, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year delivered an angry, emotional rant peppered with curses. He expressed recognition of his privileged position and sympathy for Texans fans. But Watt also called out his teammates for a lack of professionalism.

“We’re professional athletes getting paid a whole lot of money,” Watt said. “If you can’t come in, put in work in the building, go out to the practice field, work hard, do your lifts and do what you’re supposed to do, you should not  be here. This is a job. We’re getting paid a whole lot of money. There are a whole lot of people that watch us and invest their time and money into buying our jerseys and buying a whole bunch of s–t. And they care about it; they care every single week. We’re in Week 16, and we’re 4-11, and there’s fans that watch this game, that show up to the stadium, that put in time and energy and effort and care about this. So if you can’t go out there and you can’t work out, you can’t show up on time, you can’t practice, you can’t want to go out there to win, you shouldn’t be here.

Because this is a privilege. It’s the greatest job in the world. You get to go out and play a game. If you can’t care enough, even when you’re in week 17 — even when you’re trash, when you’re 4-11 — if you can’t go out there and give it everything you have and try your hardest, that’s bulls–t,” he said. “There are people every week that still Tweet you, that still come up to you and say, ‘Hey, we’re still rooting for you, we’re still behind you.’ They have no reason whatsoever to. We stink. But they care, and they still want to win and they still want you to be great. That’s why. Those people aren’t getting paid. We’re being paid handsomely. That’s why. That’s who I feel the most bad for, are our fans, the people who care so deeply in this city, and love it and who truly want it to be great. And it’s not. And that sucks as a player, to know we’re not giving them what they deserve.”

Watch the now-viral moment below.

UPDATE (Dec. 30): The Texans have closed their facility today after two players (safety Eric Murray and linebacker Whitney Mercilus) tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. According to the Houston Chronicle, players were not allowed to enter the team facility. Instead, they did a walk-through on the practice field and then met virtually.

“Because we have had some positives, we are basically not letting the players into the facility,” Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel said on Zoom from NRG Stadium. “But we are having a walkthrough where we’ll work for about an hour and then they’ll leave. They are not using the facility. They come in. We walk through and they leave. We are hoping to cut down on the interaction with players when you’re not on the football field. Everybody is wearing masks and we’ll get some fundamental work done we need to get done.”

UPDATE: The Texans lost their final game of the season to the Tennessee Titans (who win the AFC South). After the Texans’ 41-38 loss on Sunday, Watt and quarterback Deshaun Watson shared a poignant moment. A video has surfaced of the two walking back to the locker room after the loss. “I’m sorry,” Watt tells Watson. “We wasted one of your years.”

UPDATE (Jan. 7, 2021): Rumors are swirling that Watson may be seeking a trade. NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk intimates that “Watson has quietly broached with teammates the possibility of requesting a trade.” Trading him would result in a cap charge of $21.6 million. 

Veteran Houston Chronicle sportswriter John McClain seems convinced that Watson’s not going anywhere, and a KHOU sports reporter tonight snarkily remarked that the trade story “was written for some clicks on a website.” But just moments ago, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport revealed that Watson is unhappy with the Texans organization (who isn’t?) after being left out of crucial personnel decisions:

“Watson offered his input on potential general manager candidates, but the Texans neither considered nor consulted with those endorsed by their franchise quarterback, league sources told ESPN. “Additionally, the Texans did not inform Watson that they intended to hire Caserio, and he found out about the hire Tuesday on social media. That contributed to Watson taking to Twitter that night to post “some things never change….”

Albert Breer says that Watson advocated for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to be head coach — but the Texans refused to even interview him, further irking Watson. Over the weekend, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Watson is still angry about the Texans’ “insensitivity to social justices, including hiring practices,” alluding to the team failing to interview Eric Bieniemy. (UPDATE: the Texans finally did request to interview Bieniemy today, Jan, 12. But the window to contact him has closed.)

Rapoport adds that Watson has not spoken to Texans brass in days — though they have tried to call him. This gives new grist to the rumor mill that Watson may be looking for greener pastures. At least one former Texans player is suggesting that some teams may be interested in Watson:

UPDATE: A Texans legend has weighed in on the situation. Legendary Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson set tongues wagging with a tweet today: “If I’m @deshaunwatson I will stand my ground,” Johnson wrote. “The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!!!”

Johnson’s tweet took a shot at Texans VP of football operations Jack Easterby, which generated lots of online chatter. But former Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins backed Johnson up, quoting Johnson’s original tweet and adding: “When Dre speak listen.”

UPDATE: Former Texans tight end Joel Dreessen also backed Johnson. Asked for comment, Dreessen tweeted: “All I know is when Dre would speak, he was always worth listening to. I don’t know Easterby at all, but it pains me to see how badly the Texans have been put in reverse. Whether it was him or BOB [former head coach Bill O’Brien] who chased off players like Duane, Clowney, Hopkins…& gave up 1st round picks.”

Houston Restaurant Weeks Extended Through Sept. 30

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Photo courtesy of Houston Business Journals.

By Terrance Turner

Sept. 1, 2020 (Updated Oct. 30; revised Nov. 15)

News broke yesterday that Houston Restaurant Weeks has been extended through the end of the month. It typically runs from Aug. 1 through Sept. 7, but this year it has been extended through Sept. 30. The annual fundraiser allows people to order from local restaurants and donate to a worthy cause.

The late Cleverley Stone, shown here holding a box for the Houston Food Bank. (Photo from Twitter.)

Houston Restaurant Weeks (HRW) was founded by Cleverley Stone, who hosted a food radio talk show on Houston’s CBS 650 AM (KIKK-AM). According to the HRW website, “The Cleverley Food Talk Radio Show” became the longest-running on CBS 650, running for over 13 years. Stone also worked as a food service contributor to Fox 26 Morning News, beginning in 2008. Stone founded HRW in 2003 as a fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank, which is the largest food bank in the United States (per its website).

Stone died at 68 in May from uterine cancer. Her final wish was that HRW continue in perpetuity in her name, per the Houston Chronicle. Her daughter Katie Stone now chairs the event, and she remembers that her mother felt compassion for those suffering from hunger. “Her life’s mission was to end hunger and to feed families in Houston,” Stone told the Houston Business Journal. “She was really driven by stories she would hear in Houston about people not having enough to eat.” That drive helped make Houston Restaurant Weeks the largest annual fundraiser of its kind.

This year, the event will look different, due to COVID-19. But it is arguably more vital than ever. “This year’s Houston Restaurant Weeks is probably the most important year that we’ve ever seen,” Stone told ABC 13. The HRW fundraiser has raised over $16 million for the Houston Food Bank, which distributes food to those in need. This takes on new significance in the wake of Hurricane Laura, which hit Louisiana hard last week. According to KPRC, the Houston Food Bank has sent trucks of water, cleaning supplies, and ready-to-eat food to a Second Harvest Food Bank in Vinton, Louisiana.

A map of the 18 SE Texas counties the HFD serves. (Photo courtesy of houstonfoodbank.org.)

The Houston Food Bank serves 18 counties in southeast Texas, including Harris, Liberty, Chambers, Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Austin. (It also provides food for localized food banks in Montgomery and Galveston counties; those banks, in turn, provide food for their residents.) Founded in 1982, the Houston Food Bank distributes fresh produce, meat and nonperishables and prepares nutritious hot meals for kids. According to houstonfoodbank.org, the charity distributed 104 million meals in 2019. It does so via a network of 1,500 community partners, including schools, shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries.

One of those pantries is in the mostly black Trinity Gardens neighborhood. Chef Jonny Rhodes, who grew up in Trinity Gardens, called the area a “food desert” in a Houston Chronicle article in Oct. 2019. The article also defined nearby neighborhood Kashmere Gardens as a “food desert” — a low-income area where residents struggle to find healthy, affordable food. In 2010, the USDA reported that 18 million Americans live in food deserts — places more than a mile from a supermarket in urban/suburban areas and more than 10 miles in rural areas.

One food pantry helping to bridge that gap is in Trinity Gardens First Baptist Church, which shares its name with the surrounding neighborhood. On one Saturday morning per month, food is delivered and distributed. The pantry is headed by Sis. Barbara Brown, who has worked with the Houston Food Bank (HFD) since 2010. She says the Houston Food Bank is essential for the pantry’s operation.

“The Food Bank is 100% of where we get our food,” Brown says via phone. She adds that the pantry is not easy to maintain. “I have to take classes; I have to do online meetings,” she says. “We come in; we have to get inspections.” With the start of the pandemic, trainings and meetings have moved offline. And now, workers and volunteers must deliver food to people’s cars in order to minimize contact.

Mrs. Brown also mentions that she has to have paperwork in multiple languages — and serve people from multiple locales. “We get people from Pasadena and La Porte,” she says, “and we cannot turn people away.” She estimates that the pantry serves around 125 people each month (not counting the pantry’s volunteers, who are often allowed to take home leftover food items.)

Those that come will be given mostly non-perishable food — canned corn and green beans, walnuts, cereal, boxed spaghetti. But the Houston Food Bank truck also delivers some perishables: gallons of milk, bags of ham, even some eggs. And last month, Brown says, fresh vegetables were added to the mix: “We gave out eggs and meat, onions and bell peppers.”

Pantries like these benefit directly from the HFD — and indirectly from the HRW fundraiser. Typically, restaurants would donate $3–$7 from each meal sold to the Food Bank. But with so many restaurants struggling due to COVID-19, this year they will donate $1 per meal. Each dollar can provide three meals for those in need.

For the first time, diners can order using pickup, takeout, or delivery options. Some restaurants allow walk-in orders. According to the website, brunches and lunches each cost $20. Dinners cost either $35 or $45 (for a four-course meal). The featured restaurants are located in Harris, Galveston, and Montgomery counties. (Please call or visit the website of each chosen restaurant to verify dates and times for meal service. Be sure to mention that you would like the HRW special menu.) For more information about HRW’s participating restaurants, please visit https://houstonrestaurantweeks.com. To donate or volunteer with the Houston Food Bank, visit https://www.houstonfoodbank.org.

UPDATE (Sept. 16-19): With just two weeks left until the end of HRW, I decided to do a quick overview of notable brunch and lunch spots in the area. Given the comparatively low cost of these menus (just $20), I’m presenting those options first. (Dinner is another story — literally; I’ll cover the $35-$45 dinner spots in another post.) Only some of the over 100 HRW participants offer brunch, but I did manage to find some participating restaurants in various areas.

If you’re in the downtown area, you could start with Hearsay Market Square (218 Travis St.). Hearsay serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am until 3 pm. Menu options for the first course include deviled eggs with candied jalapeno and bacon. The second course offers choices like fried chicken & waffles and bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp with grits.

In Midtown, Nuksy’s Table (1926 W. Dallas St.) only serves brunch on Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm, per its website. On the bright side, Nuksy’s also serves up plantain beignets with each meal. (They’re deep-fried, with caramel rum sauce — or chocolate bourbon sauce — and berries.) The entrees include crab cake eggs benedict (lumped crabmeat, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce, with sautéed spinach and kettle chips). The breakfast platter has bacon, pork sausage, eggs, and hash browns. Nuksy’s “Shrimp and Orange Corn Grits” include seasoned Gulf shrimp “with Cajun gumbo gravy, served over orange corn grits”. Nuksy’s beverages include mimosas in classic, strawberry, mango,
and raspberry flavors.

When I first visited Nuksy’s on Sept. 20, demand had picked up so much that the place was fully booked! Nevertheless, the owner took me on a tour. One room can seat 10 people (at two socially distanced tables). Another room seats four (but usually just two). It’s typically booked for dates. “I don’t know if you know this,” the owner told me, “but in Houston, Tuesday is date night.” (Really?)

Each room has a “dot” for music control. You can ask Alexa to play whatever song you like — whether it’s Kirk Franklin or Fantasia — and hear it (if available). I tried out the device when I revisited Nuksy’s Table a week later, on Sept. 27. My room was furnished elegantly, with a plush white couch against one wall and fluffy rugs on the hardwood floors. In the center of the room, a dinner table was topped by eye-catching golden centerpieces.

The breakfast platter at Nuksy’s Table. (All Nuksy’s photos taken by the author.)

After finishing my mimosa (which was a great start to brunch), I ordered Nuksy’s breakfast platter, which came with eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and a surprise: a pair of strawberries on the side. The food was uniformly good (and better than it looks in the photo). I visited Nuksy’s on Sept. 27; I had visited Napoli’s a week earlier.

In Montrose, Napoli’s Wine Cafe (4601 Washington Ave) offers a varied three-course brunch menu. For the first course, there’s an array of options, including fried calamari, a “meat board” with imported and domestic meats, and a “formaggi board” consisting of both domestic and imported cheeses. Also available was a “brochette board”, in which the diner chooses three options from the following:

  • Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil
  • Cheese, Bacon, Arugula & Tomato
  • Smoked Salmon, Cheese & Capers
  • Almond Hummus & Fresh Tomato
  • Fire-Roasted Eggplant & Walnuts
  • Ricotta, Almond & Dates
Sassy Italian Ricotta Pancakes at Napoli’s Wine Cafe. (Photo from YouTube.)

But that’s just the first course. Napoli’s offers lobster bisque, soup and salad for the second. But the third course is where things get really interesting. Options include “Sassy Italian Ricotta Pancakes”, topped with maple syrup, banana slices, strawberries, walnuts, a dollop of whole milk ricotta cheese, and whipped cream. The “Brioche French Toast” comprises freshly baked brioche topped with vanilla custard, banana slices, strawberries and walnuts. Alternatively, there’s “Napoli’s Breakfast”: “two poached eggs served over sautéed spinach, potatoes, onions and mushrooms, topped with hollandaise sauce served on a toasted biologiques loaf bread.”

I visited Napoli’s amidst pouring rain, which failed to deter patrons from dining outdoors. While I watched the Giants vs. Bears game inside, I sampled the brochette platter. From a bevy of options, I chose: a) fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil, b) cheese and bacon with arugula and tomato, and c) smoked salmon, cheese, and capers. Each delicacy was served on a slice of toasted bread. The array of salty, savory textures provided a perfect foil for my second course: a house salad.

After I wolfed down the tomatoes and leafy greens, I feasted on the third course. Those Italian ricotta pancakes were just as decadent as you would imagine: at least four broad, fluffy pancakes under sliced strawberries and bananas, topped by rich ricotta and whipped cream. I was also served a small container of syrup, which I only used sparingly. Too much would ruin what is already a glorious dish.

In the Galleria area, 51Fifteen Cuisine and Cocktails (5175 Westheimer Road) delivers an array of brunch selections. The first course serves up items like garbanzo soup and chopped wedge salad; the second course delivers braised short ribs benedict (two poached eggs on English muffin, hollandaise sauce, braised short ribs, asparagus, sliced tomatoes). Also included in the 2nd course is a 6-oz. New York strip steak and eggs combo.

Bon appetit!

 

Gronk Comes Out of Retirement to Join Brady on Bucs (UPDATED)

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By Terrance Turner

April 21, 2020 (updated Dec. 26)

Last night, former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski appeared on “Watch What Happens Live” (at Home). Host Andy Cohen said rumors were swirling that Gronkowski wanted to join ex-Patriots teammate Tom Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cohen asked Gronkowski if he was considering coming out of retirement to join Brady on the Bucs.

Gronkowski (aka “Gronk” to fans and teammates) responded equivocally. “Andy, you wanna know what’s so great, man? The day that I retired — within 24 hours — there were already rumors that I was coming out of retirement,” Gronk said. “I’m feelin’ good right now; I’m happy where I’m at–“

“You’re done,” Cohen interjected.

“You just never know, man,” Gronk replied.

“Oh, you never know,” Cohen repeated.

“You never know,” Gronk said. “I’m not totally done.”

He isn’t. The next day, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport confirmed a stunning update:

Earlier this afternoon, NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted: “Retired #Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski has told New England that he’s interested in playing football again — and would want to do it with the Bucs and Tom Brady. A trade would have to be worked out for this to happen.” Rapoport later added that Brady was interested in such a deal, too. At 3:21 pm, Rapoport confirmed that the Patriots were trading Gronk and a seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for a 4th-round pick.

Gronkowski, 30, played the entirety of his NFL career with the New England Patriots. During the 2011 season, Gronk had 17 touchdown catches — the most ever by a tight end in one season. A Week 13 score was classified as a rushing touchdown, giving him a total of 18 TDs. He became the first (and only) tight end EVER to lead the league in touchdowns. The next season, he tacked on 11 more touchdown receptions, making it his third season in a row with 10 or more TDs. (He would achieve that impressive touchdown feat again in the 2014 and ’15 seasons.)

He won three championships with the New England Patriots in 2015, 2017, and 2019. (He told Cohen that the last match — the 13-3 snoozefest vs. the Rams — was the easiest to win.) It was his 29-yard catch late in Super Bowl LIII that set up the game’s only touchdown (courtesy of teammate Sony Michel). That catch helped him set two more records. His 23 receptions and 297 receiving yards are the most by a tight end in Super Bowl history.

As news broke of the trade, Andy Cohen added another credit to his multi-hyphenate career:

Gronk’s return to the NFL was something of a surprise move, after a storied career riddled with injuries. “Since 2012, he has, among other things, fractured the same forearm twice, fractured a vertebrae, torn his A.C.L. and M.C.L., and suffered from a bruised lung, herniated discs, various ankle injuries, and at least two concussions,” wrote New Yorker columnist Ian Crouch in March 2019.

Gronkowski retired in 2019 after a painful quad injury sustained during the Super Bowl that year. An NBC Sports reporter spoke with Gronkowski after the game, and Gronk showed him the ugly aftermath of a second-quarter hit to the thigh. The reporter noted the swelling: “It looked stupidly big. Swollen from just above the knee for about 20 inches.” 

Gronkowski recounted the injury’s impact in August, at a press conference for CBDMedic. “I got done with the game; I could barely walk,” he told the audience. “I try to go to bed; I slept for five minutes that night. I couldn’t even think.”

“I was in tears, in my bed, after a Super Bowl victory,” Gronkowski recalled. “And then, for four weeks, I couldn’t even sleep for more than 20 minutes a night, after a Super Bowl win. It didn’t make much sense to me,” he said. “And I was like, ‘Damn, this sucks’.” During that period, he said, Gronkowski had 1,000 milliliters of blood drained from his swollen thigh.

It was that bruising physical toll that drove his retirement — along with the emotional toll. “I want to be clear to my fans: I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down,” Gronkowski said, choking up, “and I didn’t like it. I was losing that joy in life — like, the joy.

With the help of rest and CBDMedic, however, he began to recover. “I feel great, and I am pain-free. I truly believe I can get to another level with my body,” he said in August, “and I’m just in the first stage right now. And when that time comes down in the future, if I have the desire to play football again, if I feel passionate about football again, if I feel like I need to be out there on the field, I will go back to football. But as of right now, that is not the case. It could be the case in six months; it could be the case in two years. Could be the case in three years. Could be the case in three months.”

In the end, it took roughly eight months for Gronkowski to turn the corner. And today, the day after Christmas, Gronkowski gave fans a gift for the ages. The Buccaneers played the Detroit Lions today; QB Tom Brady opened the game by throwing a 33-yard touchdown to Gronkowski. It’s the 96th career touchdown between Brady and Gronk.

That score put the Buccaneers ahead 7-0. By halftime, it was 34-0! After throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns (!), Brady rested in the second half. Backup QB Blaine Gabbert took over — and opened the third quarter with a thrilling throw to Gronkowski. The ball sailed from the 30-yard line; Gronk caught it for his second touchdown of the day, to make it 41-0.

As “Lion King” Premieres, Beyonce’s “Spirit” Soars

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Photo courtesy of Tom & Lorenzo.

By Terrance Turner

July 17, 2019

Last night, ABC aired its prime-time special on “The Lion King”, the live-action retelling of the classic 1994 animated film. The special featured intriguing details about the making of the original film and its adaptation to the stage. ABC also included interviews with the voices behind the current version: Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Alfre Woodard, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, among others. But the most memorable voice was that of the film’s Nala: Beyonce Knowles-Carter.

The special premiered the official music video for “Spirit”, the first single off the Lion King: The Gift, an album of original music inspired by the film. (Spin magazine writer Tosten Burns points out that this album is separate from the actual Lion King soundtrack, which came out last week.) In an exclusive interview that aired during the special, Beyonce called the album “a love letter to Africa”.

“Spirit” begins with two men chanting “Long live the king” in Swahili. Beyonce gently delivers the song’s opening verse, which escalates to a stirring chorus. Her sultry voice is joined by a choir, and the song begins to build. By the second chorus, she and the choir are at full-throttle, backed by a driving beat and synchronized handclaps.

“Your destiny is coming close,” she sings. “Stand up and fight.” Suddenly, the swelling arrangement drops to a whisper in the bridge — hushed vocals and soft piano. “So go into that far off land, and be one with the great ‘I AM’. A boy becomes a man,” Beyonce sings, in a gorgeous falsetto that rises higher and higher. By the three-minute mark, she’s in the stratosphere, displaying her incredible range.

That stunning moment leads to a rousing, gospelly finale. Beyoncé belts out the final choruses in impassioned, melismatic fashion, powerfully combining with the choir. Their voices swell as the song continues, rising even higher for a dramatic key change. Beyoncé returns to a gentle, delicate head voice for the song’s final bars.

“Spirit” was written by Ilya Salmanzadeh, Timothy Lee McKenzie, and Beyonce. Salmanzadeh is a Swedish-Persian producer and songwriter; McKenzie is a Grammy-nominated British songwriter who performs as “Labrinth”. The two sent a rough demo to Beyonce, who loved it. “She started helping us write the rest of the record,” McKenzie told ABC News. He described the moment as “incredible.”

McKenzie said Beyoncé is meticulous in her work: “She’s a perfectionist and she’s a Virgo, like my wife. Virgos are serious perfectionists.” He added: “She cared about everything that was in the record. She cared about what piano we were going to use. Is there enough bass? Not many artists care that much.” But despite her perfectionism, Beyoncé wasn’t demanding, he said.

“A lot of artists in her position, they can be divas and they can be hard to deal with. Her energy and the messages she sent to us in terms of saying thank you for contributing to ‘The Lion King’ — she sent really beautiful messages. I was really kind of surprised to see that someone in her position still has that humility.” 

The song itself is noteworthy, but the music video, which premiered last night, only amplifies its quality. Beyoncé explained the video in an interview for the ABC special. “The concept of the video is to show how God is the painter, and natural beauty — and nature — needs no art direction,” she said. “It’s the beauty of nature, the beauty of melanin, the beauty of tradition.”

“Spirit” was filmed at Havasu Falls, a waterfall within Arizona’s Grand Canyon. The Arizona Republic reported that on July 8, a location manager called the head of Arizona’s film office, asking for permission to film at Havasu. The man he called was Matthew Earl Jones, director of Arizona Film and Digital Media. (Jones is the nephew of actor James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in both “Lion King” films.) Mr. Jones put the manager in touch with the Havasupai Tribal Council, who quickly granted the request. The shoot took place just two days later, with Beyoncé flying in by helicopter.

The request’s approval came as a surprise to Jones, given that permits are hard to come by. But the Council was glad to oblige Beyoncé. A Council spokeswoman said that given Bey’s support of water rights worldwide, “we were particularly pleased to be able to accommodate her request.” The video offers spectacular views of the waterfalls and accompanying scenery.

Beyoncé is shown seated, wearing a voluminous, ruffled dress of lilac and red. Early on, there’s an appearance by her daughter Blue Ivy Carter, who walks up (in lavender ruffles) to take her mother’s hand. The Havasu Falls appear about a minute in; draped in dramatic royal blue, Beyoncé begins the chorus in front of the waterfall. Throughout the four-minute video, scenes from the film are interspersed with shots of Queen Bey. Clad in colorful, flowing costumes, Beyoncé performs the song with an array of dancers in various desert locales.

In less than 24 hours, “Spirit” has amassed 5.3 million views on YouTube. It is currently #1 in YouTube’s “Trending” section. Beyonce’s album will debut the same day as the film. “The Lion King” hits theaters on Friday, July 19. Watch the “Spirit” video below.

Lamar Jackson Suffers Injury in Playoff Loss To Bills

Photo courtesy of Twitter.

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 16, 2021

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson enjoyed his first playoff victory last Sunday, as the Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans. But Jackson appears to have suffered a head injury in tonight’s match versus the Buffalo Bills. After being tackled in the end zone, Jackson’s head hit the turf as he fell backward.

Jackson has left the field and headed to the locker room, according to sports/pop culture site The Ringer. He would remain their for the rest of the night. NFL reporter Ian Rapoport says Jackson is now in concussion protocol; he was ruled out and did not return.

The injury comes after what appeared to have been a rough game: neither offense achieved much in the first half, with usually-reliable Ravens kicker Justin Tucker missing two field goals. The score was 3-3 at halftime. Since then, the Buffalo Bills have surged, scoring twice. The Ravens lost to the Bills, 17-3.

Bow Wow Performs at Packed Houston Club As COVID Cases Spike

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 16, 2021

Last night, rapper Bow Wow performed at (and hosted) an event at Cle Nightclub in Houston. Cle, located downtown at 2301 Main St, was packed. Hundreds of people hit the club, in the middle of a pandemic, to see Bow Wow — for what reason, we don’t know. What we do know is that videos on social media show him rapping maskless in front of a largely maskless crowd.

The news comes amid a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases. Harris County, which contains the city of Houston, reported more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 today. As of today, there are 281,422 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in Harris County and 2,763 deaths, according to the Harris County Public Health Department. The positivity rate is 20.3%. It has climbed every day since January 11.

Harris County has reported 36,557 new cases in just the past 14 days, according to the Texas Tribune. During the first week of January, Houston set hospitalization records every day for seven straight days. For a week straight, more than 15% of patients in local hospitals were being treated for coronavirus. That should’ve triggered mandatory rollbacks laid out in an order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Under that order, Houston bars must close indoor service, and Houston restaurants must reduce capacity to 50%.

Mayor Turner said today that clubs are masquerading as restaurants, and he’s calling on TABC to start crackdowns. “I’m still getting some disturbing pictures of people hanging out in clubs that have been recategorized as restaurants,” he said. “And let me tell you, they are not restaurants.” KTRK reported that he and his staff will be reviewing those restaurants tonight. “When you look at these pictures, there’s no food on the table,” Turner said. “That is crazy. I am calling on the state to review their policies.”

Harris County consistently leads the state in case counts and deaths. But the statewide tale is even more grim. Statewide, 26,334 new cases were reported today, along with 400 deaths. (A record-high 426 deaths reported on Thursday.) There are now 13,953 patients with COVID-19 in Texas hospitals, per the Dallas Morning News. Texas now has a total of 2,072,903 coronavirus cases. That’s the most for any state besides California, according to Complex. During the first week of January, the state reached record highs for both case counts and deaths.

But Bow Wow appears to not know any of that. After waking up at around 2 pm today….

…the rapper defended himself on Twitter. He insisted that he’d worn a mask in the club:

“Man Texas is open. ATL is open. I can’t help I live in a city where we been open since last spring,” Bow Wow claimed in a series of now-deleted tweets. And then he had the audacity to claim “COVID fatigue”:

The backlash was swift and strong:

UPDATE: Cle is among three Houston clubs that got there liquor licenses suspended. According to ABC 13, “Three Houston businesses have had their liquor permits suspended following Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission investigations, which found violations of state requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The nightclubs involved are Grooves at 2300 Pierce St., Cle at 2301 Main St. and Spire at 1720 Main St. (Spire had its liquor license suspended in July 2020 and then again in October, per the Houston Chronicle.) In a press release, the TABC said the suspensions are the result of inspections by their agents conducted over the weekend.

“All three businesses are accused of violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32, which requires businesses which sell alcohol for on-premise consumption to comply with capacity limits as well as social distancing and facial covering requirements,” the release stated.

NRA Files for Bankruptcy

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 15, 2021

The National Rifle Association has filed for bankruptcy.

The NRA filed Chapter 11 papers today in a Dallas federal court. It will seek to re-incorporate in Texas instead of New York, according to the Associated Press. The move “will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom,” the NRA said in a statement.

The bankruptcy will come as no surprise to close observers; the NRA had been in financial trouble for quite some time. In September 2020, former executive Joshua Powell exposed cash flow problems in a tell-all book, Inside the NRA. “The finances of the NRA are in shambles,” Powell wrote, portraying the 148-year-old gun rights group as part of “the grifter culture of Conservative Inc.”

He accused NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, his former boss and mentor, of “robbing every $45-dues-paying member to cover the costs of his own extravagance and his shameful mismanagement.” Powell is not alone. In August, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the NRA, alleging wrongdoing by LaPierre. Mr. LaPierre was accused of using N.R.A. funds to fund an extravagant lifestyle, even though he was already paid millions in direct compensation by the organization.

James’s lawsuit (against LaPierre and three others, including Powell) made damning allegations of corruption and misappropriated funds. “Among the numerous alleged violations laid out by Ms. James’s office, some were related to false reporting of annual filings both to the state and the I.R.S.,” said The New York Times. “Her office also cited ‘improper expense documentation, improper wage reporting, improper income tax withholding’ and failing to make required excise tax reporting and payment, among other issues.”

“Over six and a half years, the suit said, a personal travel consultant for Mr. LaPierre was paid $13.5 million, largely on no-bid contracts. Private flights were chartered for Mr. LaPierre’s wife and his niece. He took frequent trips to the Bahamas on the N.R.A.’s dime, often decamping to a 108-foot yacht called “Illusions” that was owned by an N.R.A. contractor and included a chef and four staterooms. He lavished gifts from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman on his inner circle, and once put his niece up at a Four Seasons hotel for eight nights at a cost of more than $12,000, according to the complaint.”

The lawsuit charged that N.R.A. and its executives were “violating numerous state and federal laws” by enriching themselves, as well as their friends, families and allies, and taking improper actions that cost the organization $64 million over three years.

That was in addition to the millions the organization spent on lobbying and campaigning. In 2016, the NRA spent more than $30 million on behalf of the Trump campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data. Now, as President Trump prepares to leave office, the group that spent millions to elect him is filing for bankruptcy.

Bears Battle Saints in Playoff Wild Card Match — on Nickelodeon

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 10, 2021

Today, the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears faced off in an NFL Wild Card Playoff game. The game will air live on CBS, with analysts Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. But for the first time ever, the game will be simulcast on Nickelodeon. CBS has partnered with the kid-centered network for the broadcast. According to CBS Sports, the Nickelodeon broadcast will feature original, on-field, Nick-themed and even slime-filled graphics.

The broadcast on Nickelodeon was anchored by NFL Network’s Nate Burleson and Clippers play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle. They were joined by a special guest: Gabrielle Neveah Green, who stars on Nickelodeon’s “All That”. Green, 15, co-stars on “All That” with actor Lex Lumpkin, who will provide sideline reporting.

“Our game plan is to make sure the NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon definitely lives up to its name by infusing the telecast with Nick’s sensibility of surprise and fun at almost every turn,” said Brian Robbins, President of ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment. “We’re incredibly proud to team up with CBS Sports and the NFL to elevate the thrill of this game for kids and families to enjoy together.”

Broadcasts typically introduce players to fans; this time they’ll be introduced by favorite food and hobbies instead of college and season statistics. More than 15 players per team filled out questionnaires to ensure that was possible, CBS Sports coordinating producer Shawn Robbins told USA TODAY. Green says that can engage new viewers: “Football can be kind of confusing,” Green told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s kind of hard to remember all those terms but if we can say, ‘Hey that’s the guy who loves chocolate ice cream and he just ran all the way down the field,’ that’s a win for us to get new football fans engaged.”

Saints’ De’Onte Harris got off to a fast start with a first down. Then, after a neutral zone infraction by the Bears defense, running back Alvin Kamara barreled down the field for a first down. Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas caught a pass from quarterback Drew Brees for the touchdown! As Thomas crossed into the end zone, two animated “slime cannons” sprayed a fountain over the end zone, drawing praise from viewers:

The game was 7-0. The Bears took over. WR Javon Wims had an amazing sideline catch — but then dropped what could’ve been a game-tying touchdown. The Bears scored no points, but they soon got a turnover: backup QB Taysom Hill had the ball knocked out of his hands mid-pass. The Bears recovered and drove down the field. They were nearing a score before Bears tight end Cole Kmet was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Chicago did manage to score a field goal, making it 7-3.

Throughout the broadcast, the analysts described certain aspects of the game for the young viewers. They also answered quirky questions that children might ask. Green, 15, asked: “What happens if you have to go to the bathroom during a game?” Burleson and Eagle answered: you either hold it or go into one of the on-field tents — “kind of like a Port-a-Potty,” Burleson said. Burleson and Eagle also explained technical terms: “red zone” is the area from the 20-yard line to the end zone. If a team reaches that area, they have a good chance of scoring.

Burleson, Eagle, and Green worked admirably to make the game accessible young children. Unfortunately, one player seemed to have forgotten that kids were watching. Bears player Cordarrelle Patterson was caught on a hot mic, cursing after dual penalty flags were thrown by the ref. The moment was broadcast live for all the kids to hear:

In the second half, the Saints got a hard-fought scoring play. Tight end Jared Cook made a crucial catch on 3rd down, bringing the Saints near the red zone. The Saints were prepared to go for it on fourth down. On 4th and 2, the Bears were flagged for a neutral zone infraction (also known as “offsides”). As “Young Sheldon” explained, “offsides is when a defender jumps across the line of scrimmage and can’t get back in time”.

That explanation was rapidly followed by a touchdown. Under duress, Brees escaped Khalil Mack by throwing to RB Latavius Murray. After the catch, Murray raced into the end zone; the “slime cannons” formed another waterfall over the goal line. An extra-point kick made it 14-3, with 4:10 left in the third quarter.

Jordan Humphrey had a big play on 3rd and 11, driving the Saints to 1st and goal. On 2nd and goal, the Bears defense (#22) was flagged for holding. That penalty gave an automatic first down to the Saints. Taysom Hill rushed near the one-yard line, and Kamara ran in for the touchdown. New Orleans jumped ahead to a 21-3 lead.

After another scoreless drive for the Bears, the Saints took back over. Kamara had two big first-down plays, and another flag for offsides (on Chicago) made it 1st and goal for New Orleans. But the Saints came away scoreless after four stops by the Chicago defense. On 4th and goal, the Saints decided to go for it instead of kicking a field goal. Brees tried to dive across the goal line. But the ball didn’t cross the plane. That made it a turnover on downs, giving the Bears the ball.

The Bears scored a touchdown (finally!) when Trubisky found tight end Jimmy Graham. After an incredible one-handed grab in the end zone, Graham fell to the ground. He then got up and left the field, running straight to the locker room as the fourth quarter ended.

The Saints won, 21-9. It proved to be a fitting birthday present for Drew Brees. He turns 42 this week, and now he’s on his way to the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs. (The Saints face Tampa Bay next Sunday.) Brees threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, while Kamara ran for 99 yards and a TD.

Lamar Jackson Earns Playoff Win (Finally) as Ravens Top Titans

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 10, 2021

Today, the Baltimore Ravens battled the Tennessee Titans in the NFL playoffs. It’s the second day of a two-day tripleheader. It was a tale of two defenses. Baltimore’s defense contained Derrick Henry, holding him to 40 yards, and Tennessee’s defense utterly failed to stop Lamar Jackson. The Ravens quarterback rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown as the Ravens defeated the Titans, 20-13.

Both teams went three-and-out on their opening drives. Tennessee rebounded with a scoring drive that featured two first-down catches by Titans receiver A.J. Brown. Tight end Anthony Firkser made a crucial first-down catch. That was followed by a one-handed grab by Brown for the touchdown. That made it 7-0.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson got intercepted by Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler. (That’s Butler’s second postseason pick, after the one he made for the Patriots during a Super Bowl.) Tennessee soon launched another drive. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill hit Firkser for 35 yards. That set up a 45-yard field goal by Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski. 10-0.

In the second quarter, Jackson took the Ravens to the red zone. They have struggled in this area against Tennessee, and this time was no exception. Jackson was sacked in the end zone (this time by Brooks Reed, former Texans linebacker). Tannehill, too, was sacked on the Titans drive.

Jackson led his team to take the lead. On 3rd and 9, Jackson took off, running into the end zone for the touchdown. That tied the game. It was 10-10 as the Titans’ next drive began. It went nowhere, and the Ravens’ next drive ended disastrously. WR Dez Bryant got tangled up with CB Malcolm Butler and got flagged for a late-hit after he knocked Butler over. That 15-yard penalty came near the end of the first half. It was tied 10-10 at the half.

In the second half, Baltimore took the lead. Running back J.K. Dobbins had a 4-yard rushing touchdown to give the Ravens the lead. They were ahead 17-10. The Titans were stymied on their next drive, and the Ravens too had problems when Jackson suffered his fourth sack of the day. The Titans eventually found their footing, driving down to the red zone. But after reaching 1st and goal, the Titans struggled. Tannehill was tackled on 3rd and goal, forcing a field goal. Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 25-yard attempt to make it 17-13.

The Ravens attempted a field goal at the end of their drive, too. But kicker Justin Tucker’s 52-yard attempt was no good. Despite getting flagged for offensive pass interference on a subsequent drive, the Ravens made it within field-goal range. Tucker kicked a field goal to make it 20-13. That’s how it ended. With under two minutes left, Tannehill was intercepted by cornerback Marcus Peters. Baltimore players rushed onto the Titans’ logo, drawing a flag for taunting. But the Ravens ran downfield to nab a first-down and seal their win. They triumphed, 20-13.

Tampa Bay Edges Washington for First Playoff Win Since 2003

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 9, 2021

Tonight, the last game in a Saturday tripleheader kicked off on NBC. The Washington Football Team took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a stadium just 10 miles from the U.S. Capitol — the site of a deadly riot on Wednesday. Inside the (mostly empty) stadium, the game unfolded. Somehow, an 11-5 Buccaneers team had trouble competing with a 7-9 Washington team. But Tampa Bay held on, cementing its first playoff win in over 17 years,

Tampa Bay scored first with a field goal. Washington QB Taylor Heinicke started for the team; QB Alex Smith was out with a calf injury. Heinicke performed gamely, drawing several compliments from announcers Al Michaels and Tony Dungy. But he was intercepted by Bucs defender Murphy-Bunting.

Tampa Bay took over. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady quickly made a first-down throw to Scotty Miller. Within minutes, Brady found WR Antonio Brown for the touchdown. The extra-point kick was blocked, but Tampa Bay still led, 9-0.

Washington ran right through the Tampa Bay defense, racking up yards on the ground and through the air. That drive culminated in a touchdown by Washington running back J.D. McKissic. It was 9-7 when the Bucs began their next drive. Tampa Bay had a 22-yard catch by Brown and another first down from running back Leonard Fournette before a touchdown by WR Chris Godwin. The two-point conversion attempt was no good. So it remained 15-7.

On their next drive, Tampa Bay made it to 1st and goal, but couldn’t score. They settled for a field goal, which kicker Ryan Succop drilled. Washington embarked on a race-against-time drive, but couldn’t convert before time ran out. That made it 18-10 at the half.

In the second half, Tampa Bay’s defense utterly failed to contain runs or passes. On what should’ve been a sack — Heinicke was surrounded by the Bucs defense — the QB somehow managed to break free and dive across the end zone for the touchdown. Tampa Bay’s subpar defense — and Heinicke’s deft escape — made it 18-16.

A touchdown by Bucs tight end Cameron Brate was overturned. But Fournette dashed into the end zone for the TD. That put the Bucs up 25-16. Heinicke suffered a shoulder injury on Washington’s next drive; he was seen running off the field. But after a brief spell in the locker room he returned to the field of play. He rallied his team to another score, lobbing a TD pass to Steven Sims. It was 28-23.

With their lead slimmed down, the Bucs put together another scoring drive. WR Mike Evans had a 40-yard catch, followed by a Fournette first down. The drive culminated in a 37-yard field goal by Succop. That gave Tampa Bay a 31-23 lead. Though Heinicke valiantly tried to lead Washington to victory, a questionable fumble by a receiver and a sack by the Bucs defense stymied him. Escaping pressure from the defense with under two minutes left, Heinicke heaved the ball on fourth down. But the pass was incomplete. That sealed the win for Tampa Bay. They won, 31-23, for their first playoff win since 2003.