Wendy Williams Tells All in Heartbreaking Documentary

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 30, 2021

I have a career for over three decades talking about people, and now I’m being talked about. I’m doing Hot Topics, and now I’m a Hot Topic.”

Tonight, talk show host Wendy Williams did with herself what she does with everyone else — she spilled the tea.

Tonight, in a two-hour Lifetime documentary, Williams revealed long-held secrets about her addiction, her health, and the collapse of her two-decade marriage. She coughed. She cursed. She cried no less than eight times. In fact, Williams broke down within less than a minute of filming.

“I’m an emotional person, and I’m not afraid of sharing my vulnerability,” she said, through her tears. And share she did — from her childhood growing up in New Jersey to her very real problems in adulthood.

There were issues even from the beginning. Born in July 1964, Williams grew up in New Jersey, the middle child of three children. She struggled with her weight from a young age. “Wendy was overweight,” her parents say bluntly in the documentary. “I was weighed constantly,” Williams reveals. Her father told her, “Wendy, you’ve got such a pretty face — if you could just lose the weight.” To do so, Williams went on strict diets and even became bulimic. Her brother found out but did nothing. But the purging stopped when Wendy learned that bulimia could lead to tooth decay.

Wendy found that out from a gossip rag. “I loved the tabloids — the National Enquirer, the Globe, the Star magazine,” she enthuses. It was those tabloids from which young Wendy learned about plastic surgery — which would soon become a major part of her adult life.

At 24, Williams’ passion for gossip and tabloids led to a career opportunity. She was hired by Hot 103.5, a New York radio station, in 1988. She was fired — because, she says, a fellow jock was kissing up to everyone in the station. She got hired by Kiss 98.7 and became a “shock jock”, famous for salacious gossip and invasive personal questions. In the documentary, we hear clips of her asking Mariah Carey intrusive questions about her sex life. We hear that she secretly recorded an off-air interview with Whitney Houston, asking about Houston’s drug use and whether she discussed it with her daughter Bobbi Kristina.

But that go-there, say-anything attitude would come back to haunt her.

In the meantime, Wendy Williams would contend with her own #MeToo moment. In the late 1980s, Williams interviewed a rising R&B singer. He invited her to a party — and then back to his hotel room. Williams joined him. “I was just gaga over this man,” she told reporters while promoting the film, “and he asked me to go to an opening party, an album release party, with him that night.” 

He told her he was going to go change before the party, and then emerged with “nothing on — just a pair of boxers.” She didn’t know what was going on, but Williams wasn’t down with it. “I didn’t want to have the sex,” she says. “He forced himself on me,” Williams reveals, “and he date-raped me.”

After the rape, “I went home, scrubbed my skin off, cried,” she says. She didn’t tell anyone, Williams says. She does not name the singer in the film. But in a recent interview, Williams revealed that her assailant was R&B singer Sherrick. (He died in 1999.)

As she dealt with the after-effects of her assault, Williams escalated an addiction that befell so many in the 1980s. “I started doing a lot of coke,” she confesses in the doc. “I got high like, five days a week.” Her cocaine habit went on for years, even as she worked to conceal the drug abuse from employers and co-workers. But the documentary intimates that her using wound down around the same time that she met the man who would change her life forever.

“I met Kevin on April 6, 1994, and we met at a kiddie skating rink where DJ Mister Cee was doing the music,” Williams says. “Kevin” was Kevin Hunter, a debonair hoodlum from Brownsville. He asked for her number through someone else. Wendy fell for him — hard. “He smelled good; he looked good,” she recalls in the doc. “We liked the same music. He had a great sense of humor.”

In Hunter, Williams found a lover, protector, and diehard supporter: “He made me feel loved. Comforted. And supported.” Kevin supported her in her career goals. He supported her when she decided to have plastic surgery — liposuction and breast implants. Kevin even saved her from an attack by R&B group Total. (Williams had been disparaging Total on the radio, claiming they were broke and that their manager Puffy didn’t pay his workers. Total jumped out of a bus to come beat Wendy up; Kevin swooped in and prevented her the attack.) It was the start of a protective attitude that would pervade their relationship.

“By the first traffic light, I knew I liked him,” Williams reveals. She was so taken with him that they continued the relationship even after she left New York. A tumultuous relationship with Hot 97 led to her departure from the station. A non-compete clause prevented her from going to a station within a certain radius of Hot 97. She began working at a Philadelphia radio station.

Williams credits herself with the success of the station. “When I got to Philly, Power 99 was No. 14 in the ratings, and I took it to No. 1,” she says. Her career took a backseat to motherhood — or at least an attempt at it. Williams got pregnant twice — but suffered two miscarriages at the five-month mark. She also had to deliver a stillborn child.

The tragic losses actually solidified the couple’s bond. Hunter decided that their child should be in wedlock this time. He and Williams married in 1997. Then Williams conceived again. This time, she was able to carry to term. On August 18, 2000, she gave birth to her only child, Kevin Hunter, Jr. Motherhood, she says, was everything she wanted it to be.

But Wendy Williams’ joy was short-lived. Just two months after Kevin Jr’s birth, Williams went to the nursery and overheard “Big Kev” talking on the phone. She knew he was talking to a girl, Williams says. But he swore it was over. And Wendy wasn’t ready to cut the cord. “I didn’t know how to be a mother,” she explains in the film. And she didn’t want to raise the infant by herself. So she decided to stick it out. “I said, ‘Alright. Well, this is love. We’ll not get divorced’,” she says.

Instead, Williams made a high-profile return to New York. She met with Vinny Brown, her New York program director, and negotiated a new deal. She let Hunter think he had brokered the deal when he called Brown to discuss salary and hours. “Kevin doesn’t know that,” Williams said. “I’m telling this story for the first time publicly.”

By then, Hunter had become Williams’ manager. As Williams’ star rose, Kevin Hunter became more widely known — and more intimidating. “When Kevin was nice, he’s lovely,” Williams says. “But when he’s mad or mean, or things don’t go his way, he’s the worst.” This impression is further bolstered by former co-worker Arthur J. Brown, who says that Hunter “was bullying station managers” and that he witnessed tense moments between the couple. “I didn’t see anybody get their head bashed,” Brown says, “but it would get very tense […] It never affected her when the mic was on. But when the mic was off…”

Co-workers interviewed in the film paint a troubling picture. When Wendy landed her own talk show in 2008, Hunter was a menacing presence on set. A stage manager says that “Kevin would literally grab her off the floor if he was unpleased.” But according to Williams, that was the extent of the physicality. Hunter’s mother alleged last year that she witnessed her son choking and kicking Wendy. But Wendy denies that in the documentary.

“Kevin’s not a woman-beater,” Williams says. “I wasn’t a battered woman…Kevin never beat me.” She adds: “I was an emotionally abused woman, and I was taken advantage of horrifically.” But she maintains that Kevin never abused her physically.

What affected her more than anything, however, was the infidelity. Kevin owned a New Jersey condo of his own, which Williams regarded as a “party house” to spend time with his friends. Williams knew Hunter and his friends were partaking: “They’d drink brown liquor and smoke blunts!” Williams didn’t want that in their house, around their child. So Kevin Hunter having his own condo was no big deal…at first. What Williams didn’t know was that Hunter was entertaining more than just his friends.

One day, she came over to the condo and found incriminating evidence. “I opened up a night table drawer and saw a Rolex watch,” Williams tells the camera. “He said, ‘I was buying that for you.’ I said, ‘You’re lying. Who’s the bitch?'” Hunter denied the accusation of cheating. But Williams knew better: “There were underwear that didn’t fit me in the bed, and the bedsheets were nasty.”

“And whenever I went around Kevin’s people, they could never look me in the eye, and I knew it was always out of guilt,” Williams charges. She says she’d demand, “Look me in the eye. You don’t think I know? Look me in the eye.”

Things got worse. So Williams put her snooping skills to the test. “Kevin had gone to LA for ‘business’. I hired a PA — yes, I did,” Williams says. “I found a whole lot of stuff.” The results were startling: Kevin Hunter was not only sleeping with but living with another woman. Wendy’s former employee Charlamagne was from South Carolina, like the other woman, and had introduced her to Hunter.

Charlamagne introduced Hunter to massage therapist Sharina Hudson. “Charlamagne didn’t introduce Sharina to Kevin for the purpose of getting that close,” Williams says. “And Kevin’s so stupid — what a stupid gorilla. The PI was taking pictures of them going to the gym, going to dinner, her with Gucci, Pucci and Lucci,” Williams says.

Williams’ voice drips with disdain as she talks about Hudson being “in the passenger seat of my Rolls-Royce Ferrari. And my son’s in Miami.” She seethes at Kevin Hunter for buying a house — mere miles from the Hunter residence — “to share with that backwoods bitch.”

“You planned dates for dinner with another woman. You planned to sit down on that beach in Miami with that other woman,” Williams says. And eventually, Hunter had a baby with this other woman. In March 2019, Hudson gave birth to a baby girl — reportedly fathered by Hunter. Williams was shattered by the news.

That betrayal was the last straw — and the nail in the coffin of a 22-year marriage.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Jennifer King Becomes First Black Woman to Coach in NFL

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 30, 2021

This week, the Washington Football Team promoted intern Jennifer King to full-time assistant running bacs coach. This makes King the first Black woman to land a full-time coaching position in the league. She is the first Black female assistant coach in the NFL.

King, 36, understands the significance of her promotion. “Representation means so much,” she told ESPN. “I didn’t have anyone that looked anything like me working. To be able to see that, I think, is big. It’s super cool to be a part of this.”

King has a long history in athletics. According to the Washington Post, she was a two-sport athlete at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She finished her career 3rd on the team’s all-time scoring list, with 1,601 points. She also played softball there.

After graduating, King became an assistant coach for Greensboro College. She helped lead their women’s basketball team to five regular-season conference titles during her 10-year tenure. (She served in her role from 2006 to 2016, according to ESPN.) She also played quarterback and wide receiver for the Carolina Phoenix in the Women’s Football Alliance from 2006 to 2017.

King then served as head coach for the Johnson and Wales women’s basketball team from 2016-2018, per ESPN. From 2018-2019, King led the Johnson and Wales team to a national championship, was named the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association’s coach of the year, and interned for the Carolina Panthers. King says she was inspired to coach in the NFL by Katie Sowers, who served as a training assistant for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. (Sowers spent four seasons as offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers before leaving this month. She became the first woman ever to coach in a Super Bowl when the 49ers played that game last year.)

Please check back for further updates.

Cicely Tyson: In Memoriam

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 28, 2021

Legendary actress Cicely Tyson has died. She was 96.

Tyson’s family announced the passing. “With a heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” they said, in a statement issued through Tyson’s manager, Larry Thompson.

Just last Tuesday, Tyson filmed an emotional interview with journalist Gayle King. Just yesterday, Tyson appeared on CBS News, discussing her memoir Just As I Am — a 400-page chronicle of her remarkable life and career.

Tyson’s memoir, Just As I Am, was just published this week. (Photo from Harper Collins.)

Born on Dec. 18, 1924 to immigrant parents from the West Indies, Tyson was born and raised in Harlem, New York. Her mother was a domestic worker; her father was a carpenter and painter. They separated when Tyson was 10. She was raised by her mother, a strict Christian who forbade movies or even dating, according to the New York Times.

Cicely Tyson soon became a mother herself. She became pregnant at 17 and had a baby girl. Tyson raised her daughter, whom she calls “Joan” in the book, entirely out of the spotlight; indeed, many readers may not know she had a child at all. But she describes her daughter’s birth and upbringing (and the way her career affected Jane) in detail. Tyson said she and her daughter “continue to work on our relationship, as fragile as it is precious,” and she dedicated the book to her: “the one who has paid the greatest price for this gift to all.” According to the Washington Post, Tyson was forced to marry her child’s father at 18; they divorced long before she found a job typing at the Red Cross.

Then, on a fateful day in 1954 during her lunch break, a “Black man decked out in a business suit and a scarlet bowtie tapped me on the shoulder.” Struck by her beauty, he asked if she was a model. It was the kind of happenstance interaction anyone would likely write off as a weird New York City occurrence. But Tyson calls it a “love note from heaven.” The inquiry jump started a new chapter in her life.

She became a model, appearing in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. But she wanted to be an actress. Her mother wouldn’t have it. She kicked Cicely out, citing concerns over a “casting couch”. Nevertheless, she persisted. Tyson’s first role was on NBC’s “Frontiers of Faith” in 1951.

In 1961, Tyson appeared with James Earl Jones, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Maya Angelou in Jean Genet’s play The Blacks. It became the longest-running off-Broadway play of the decade, running for 1,408 performances. Tyson’s portrayal of Stephanie Virtue garnered the attention of actor George C. Scott. He suggested she play his assistant on the the gritty CBS drama East Side/West Side (1963-64). The Hollywood Reporter noted that this role “made her perhaps the first African-American actress to have a continuing role on a network series”.

Throughout the 1960s, Tyson appeared in several films, including A Man Called Adam (1966), The Comedians (1967) and Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968). But the role she took four years later would change everything.

Tyson played Rebecca Morgan, a sharecropper’s wife, in Martin Ritt’s drama Sounder (1972). In the film, her husband (played by Paul Winfield) is imprisoned for stealing food for his children. Rebecca becomes head of household, cleaning houses, caring for children, and tilling fields. And when her husband returns, she greets him joyously, running down the road to embrace him.

Critics took notice. Rebecca was “the first great black heroine on screen,” said film critic Pauline Kael. “She is visually extraordinary. Her cry as she runs down the road toward her husband, returning from prison, is a phenomenon—something even the most fabled actresses might not have dared.”

For her performance in Sounder, Cicely Tyson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She lost to Liza Minnelli, who won for Cabaret. But Tyson nonetheless made history. For the first time, three Black actors were nominated for Oscars in leading roles. (Winfield was nominated Best Actor for Sounder. Also nominated for Best Actress: Diana Ross, for Lady Sings the Blues.)

Tyson later said that Sounder changed her approach to acting. A white journalist interviewed her for a story and said he was “uncomfortable” when one of the children called Winfield “Daddy” in the film. Tyson later recalled the moment in an interview with Gayle King. “I said, ‘Do you have children? What do they call you?’ He said, ‘They call me Daddy,'” Tyson remembered. “And I thought, ‘My God. This man is thinking that we’re not human beings.’ And I made up my mind that I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress.”

Tyson decided she would only take roles that conveyed the dignity and humanity of Black people. It would be her platform. “I saw that I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress. So I made the choice to use my career as a platform to address the issues of the race I was born into,” Tyson told The New York Times in 2013.

Tyson’s next part would take her to even greater heights. At 50, she took on the greatest role of her career — in the CBS telefilm The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974). Tyson played the title role: a woman who was born before the Civil War, witnesses its ravages, and lives to see the unrest of the civil rights movement. Then, a century old, she defies segregation by sipping from a “Whites Only” water fountain.

The role required Tyson to range from ages 23 to 110. She spent six hours in the makeup chair to age convincingly, per Newsday. She visited nursing homes to study the halting speech and shaking hands typical of old age. The work and preparation paid off: Tyson drew raves for her performance. The New York Times wrote that Tyson “absorbs herself completely into Miss Jane, in the process creating a marvelous blend of sly humor, shrewd perceptions and innate dignity. Following the film ‘Sounder’, ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ firmly establishes Cicely Tyson as a major American actress.”

Tyson became the first African-American to win a lead actress Emmy Award when she was recognized for her astonishing performance. She won Best Actress in a Special and, in a fitting tribute, Actress of the Year.

Tyson poses with her two Emmys for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Photo from PBS.

“I was madly in love with Jane Pittman. She was so fabulous,” Tyson later recalled.

Image
Tyson and Davis at the NAACP Image Awards in 1981. Photo from Twitter (@EricaBuddington).

But Tyson was also madly in love with a legendary man. For over two decades, she had a passionate but tempestuous relationship with iconic jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It was a relationship marked by anger, violence, and philandering — but also deep truth and tenderness.

In her memoir, Tyson wrote that their conversations were “rippled with honesty, with depth of understanding. There is a love that gently guides your palm toward the small of another’s back, a care that leads you to ensure no harm ever comes to that person. From the beginning, that is the love I had for Miles. That is the soft place where our connection rested its head.”

The two met in 1965, according to USA Today. They were on and off for nearly two decades before reuniting in their fifties. They married on Thanksgiving Day 1981.

Tyson nursed Davis back to health after years of drug abuse that took a toll on his health. But Davis continued to struggle with addiction. His behavior was unpredictable; his temper was volatile. In her memoir, Tyson writes that Davis was unfaithful and even abusive. In a revealing interview with the New York Times, Tyson revealed that Davis once punched her in the chest after a minor misunderstanding. The transcript of the conversation is replicated, in part, below:

NYT: You dropped a knife on the floor.

Tyson: Yes, and he thought I threw the knife on the floor because of something he said. I hadn’t even been listening to what he was saying. And he came to me, yes he did, and he punched me in the chest. That’s the only time he ever struck me […]

People don’t behave in that way for no reason. It comes from something or someplace. And nine times out of 10, it’s because they have been deeply hurt. The way people would refer to Miles, ‘He’s bad, he’s this, he does that’ — not in a vacuum, he doesn’t. Nine times out of 10, the abuse came out when he was under the influence of the drugs, of the alcohol.”

But drugs were really but one of the couple’s problems. Davis’ mercurial temper accompanied a wandering eye. It was the cheating that ultimately drove them apart. The Los Angeles Times reports that Tyson left Davis in late 1987, after she found out about another affair. Their marriage unofficially ended at the door to their Upper West Side apartment; Davis tried to stop Tyson from leaving and she grabbed him by the back of his hair, she writes. “By the time he struggled free, I was holding a whole bushel of his weave in my right hand. I hurled it to the ground, marched out the door and slammed it shut.” The divorce was finalized in 1989.

Two years later, Davis was dead, ravaged by organ failures due to his addiction. In the end, Davis felt remorse for his behavior and made amends. Perhaps that’s why Tyson remembered him fondly and with compassion. She told the Times: “I got to know the soul of a man who is as gentle as a lamb. He covered it up with this ruthless attitude because he was so shy. And in trying to be the kind of tough person that people thought he was, he ruined his life. Yes, gentle as a lamb, you hear me? That’s the Miles Davis I knew.

When he was dying, a friend of mine went to the hospital to see him, and he was trying to tell her something. But he had had surgery, and she couldn’t understand what he was trying to say to her. The nurse came in and said to my friend, ‘Why don’t you go for a walk and come back in about 45 minutes, and he will be able to talk to you.’ So she went for a walk. And she came back to the hospital, and he was able to talk loudly enough to tell her this: ‘Tell Cicely I’m sorry. Tell her I’m very, very sorry.’

“Basically, it was complicated,” she said. “But a love story nonetheless.”

Their complicated history may explain why Tyson was often reticent to speak about him. She initially stonewalled CNN’s Don Lemon when he asked if Davis was the love of her life. But now, we have an answer. “I was in love with him,” she told Gayle King.

Senate Slowly Confirms Biden Cabinet Picks

Photo by the New York Times.

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 26, 2021

The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as Secretary of State today. Mr. Blinken was approved by a vote of 78 to 22, the Times said. Blinken was one of several nominees that then-President-Elect Joe Biden announced on Nov. 24, 2020. In a televised press conference, Biden named his picks for major foreign policy and national security positions. The nominees “will not only repair but reimagine our foreign policy”, Biden told reporters.

“America is back,” Biden said, “ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.”

With that sweeping message, Biden introduced his nominations. The nominees are:

  1. Antony Blinken (Secretary of State)
  2. Alejandro Mayorkas (Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security)
  3. Avril Haines (Director of National Intelligence)
  4. Linda Thomas-Greenfield (Ambassador to the United Nations)
  5. Jake Sullivan (National Security Advisor)
  6. John Kerry (Special Presidential Envoy for Climate)

Antony Blinken served as National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Biden (2009-2013). He also was Deputy National Security Advisor (2013-2015). Then he became Deputy Secretary of State (2015-2017). Biden described him as one of his most trusted advisors. Blinken returned the compliment in spades during his remarks, telling Biden: “Working with you, having you as a mentor and friend, has been the greatest privilege of my professional life”.

But he also opened up about his history: his grandmother fled Communist Hungary. His mother was chairwoman of the American Center for Students and Artists in Paris; his father was a U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. Blinken’s stepfather was a Holocaust survivor — one of 900 children at his school in Poland, but the only one to survive. His parents and sister were killed during the Holocaust.

Blinken told the story of his stepfather as a teenage boy in Bavaria. “At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria,” Blinken continued. “From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the Iron Cross, he saw painted on its side a five-pointed white star […] He ran to the tank. The hatch opened. An African American GI looked down at him. He got down on his knees and said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him before the war. God bless America. The GI lifted him into the tank, into America, into freedom.”

“That’s who we are,” Blinken emphasized. “That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.”

For Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Biden nominated Alejandro Mayorkas. Mr. Mayorkas, 61, was born in Havana, Cuba. Like Blinken’s family, Mayorkas’ family emigrated from Communist countries. “My father and mother brought me to this country to escape Communism. They cherished our democracy and were intensely proud to become American citizens, as was I,” Mayorkas said on Nov. 24.

Mayorkas served as U.S. Attorney for California for 12 years. He served as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009-2013. USCIS oversees the naturalization process that helps people obtain green cards and become American citizens. As head, Mayorkas oversaw DACA. He later served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (2013-2016). If confirmed, he will be the first Latino (and first immigrant) to lead the Department.

For Director of National Intelligence, Biden nominated Avril Haines. Ms. Haines, 51, earned a J.D. from Georgetown University. She served as the first female Deputy Director of the CIA (2013-2015). Haines assisted the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in carrying out his duties and responsibilities, including gathering and processing national security information. She then replaced Blinken as Deputy National Security Adviser (2015-17). “She always calls it as she sees it,” Biden says.

Ms. Haines was confirmed by the Senate this week as well, making her the first woman to become Director of National Intelligence.

Please stay tuned for further updates.

Chiefs Defeat Bills in Raucous AFC Championship Game

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 24, 2021

The AFC Championship Game today featured the red-hot Buffalo Bills versus the league’s best team: the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s the third straight championship game that the Chiefs have reached. If they are successful, quarterback Patrick Mahomes will become the first quarterback to reach two Super Bowls before age 26.

They were. Despite a late rally by the Bills and a violent outbreak at the end of the game, the Kansas City Chiefs triumphed. A high-scoring second half, powered by a monstrous offensive performance, sealed their victory. Their win takes them to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.

It was a wildly entertaining first half. The Buffalo Bills had field goal to start. Then punt returner Mecole Hardman, normally so sure-handed, fumbled the ball. Hardman caught the punted ball and somehow it fell out of his hands. The Bills recovered the ball near the one-yard line. They scored almost immediately. The extra-point kick was no good, but the Bills took a 9-0 lead.

The Chiefs rebounded quickly with a scoring drive. They had four first downs to start. (Three of them were by Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who recently was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year). Kelce made one of the game’s early highlights with a 16-yard play. Kansas City went 66 yards in 10 plays. And wide receiver Tyreek Hill added eight more as the first quarter came to a close.

Kansas City took off as the second quarter began. Hardman redeemed himself by running in for the touchdown. His TD run made it 9-7. The Bills added no points on their drive, but the Chiefs did. A crucial catch by Kelce took the Chiefs to 1st and goal. Then running back Darrel Williams ran down the middle, extending the ball across the goal line for the score. The Chiefs went up 14-9.

Their quarterback shined on the ensuing drive. Mahomes, in trouble, heaved the ball just as he was being spun around for a tackle. Somehow, he located Kelce for 11 yards. On the next play, he improvised again, throwing to Hill for 33 yards. Kelce got the ball next and dove for the end zone, landing at the one-yard line. That set up a touchdown run for RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Kansas City came back from a nine-point deficit to take a 21-9 lead.

The Bills reached the end zone on their drive. 1st and goal quickly became 3rd and goal. Quarterback Josh Allen was chased by the Chiefs defense and threw the ball away. On 4th and goal, Buffalo elected to go for a field goal. That kick was good. The score was 21-12 at the half.

In the second half, both offenses converted their drives into points. The Chiefs and Bills traded field goals early in the third quarter. Then the Kansas City offense exploded. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill took off for 71 yards (!!!). He got to the 4-yard line.

A holding call on Bills defender White resulted in 1st and goal. Mahomes cashed in with an underhand pass to Kelce for the touchdown. Harrison Butker nailed the extra-point kick to make it 31-15. With their backs against the wall, the Bills tried to narrow the growing lead. But Allen got picked off by Rashad Fenton.

With the lead and the ball, Kansas City got to work. Williams dashed into the end zone. Kansas City 1st and goal AGAIN. After an incompletion, a pass to Tyreek Hill went just outside his hands. For a minute, it looked like the Chiefs might have to settle for a field goal. But then Mahomes tossed the ball to Kelce, who caught it and practically walked into the end zone. That touchdown made it a three-score game. 38-15.

Things got very ugly as the fourth quarter wound down. The Bills finally managed to score, making it 38-21. They went for a two-point conversion that was no good. They did recover an onside kick — the first one in a championship game since 2014. But Allen was sacked on 3rd down. Chiefs’ Alex Okafor was involved on the tackle. Allen threw the ball at Okafor’s head in frustration.

Bills guard Jon Feliciano shoved Okafor, and then Bills tackle Dion Dawkins shoved Okafor as he was going down. Players had to be separated, and the refs had a lengthy conference to determine penalties. In the end, Feliciano, Dawkins, and Allen were all penalized; only one Chief was flagged. Yet somehow — in yet another display of laughable NFL officiating — all those penalties offset. The Bills were allowed to try a field goal, which they successfully did.

The score was 38-24 at that point, and that’s where it stayed. The Kansas City Chiefs won, qualifying for their second consecutive Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes is now the first NFL quarterback to start in two Super Bowls before age 26, according to CBS Sports. Travis Kelce (who had two touchdowns) broke the record for most receptions (13) in a Conference Championship game.

The Chiefs are headed to their second straight Super Bowl. They will play Tampa Bay in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 7.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Headed to Super Bowl After Historic Win

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 24, 2021

It was a game for the ages.

The Green Bay Packers were playing their second straight NFC Championship Game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were battling to become the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. The match was played at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. The Super Bowl they were aiming for will be played at Raymond James Stadium – the Bucs’ home turf. And it was the Bucs who would prevail. They won, 31-26.

The score was tied 7-7 at the start of the second quarter, after Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown to WR Marques Valdez-Scantling. Tampa Bay took over. They caught fire with a 52-yard catch by WR Chris Godwin. Then running back Leonard Fournette turned what looked like a nothing play into pure gold. Fournette hurdled a player, scooted away from one tackle, spun out of another, and found the end zone for the touchdown. That put Tampa Bay up 14-7.

Green Bay’s offense ran down the field to 1st and goal. WR Davante Adams had a rare drop on 1st and goal, and 2nd and 3rd down plays also failed. Green Bay settled for a field goal. That 24-yard field goal was good. That made it 14-10, and the Packers also played deftly on defense. Tampa Bay had a big play-action play on 3rd and 2, with a 19-yard catch by Godwin. But the Green Bay defense forced a stop.

Green Bay had a big play on 3rd down, but then Rodgers was sacked by Bucs defender Jason Pierre-Paul. Then Rodgers got picked off by Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting. Tampa Bay took over and were unable to convert on third down.

It looked like the Buccaneers were going to punt. But then, on 4th down, the Bucs called a timeout. They decided to go for it on 4th and 3; Brady found Fournette for a first-down catch. After another timeout, the Bucs made a huge play with just eight seconds left. Brady hurled the ball to wide receiver Scotty Miller for the touchdown. That stunning 39-yard TD made it 21-10 at the half.

The second half began in equally stunning fashion. Green Bay got the ball to start the half, but then Aaron Jones fumbled the ball. The Bucs defense recovered, taking the ball to the 10-yard line. Their offense immediately cashed in. Brady threw another touchdown to tight end Cameron Brate. Tampa Bay took a commanding 28-10 lead.

But Green Bay put up a fight. They launched a successful scoring drive, evading the Bucs defense with both running and passing plays. Before the third quarter was halfway done, they’d reached 1st and goal. Rodgers threw to wide-open tight end Robert Tonyan for the touchdown. It was 28-17.

Tampa Bay continued to struggle on its drive. Brady got picked off by Adrian Amos, and then Tampa Bay’s defense got flagged for offsides. Green Bay had the ball and the momentum. They continued streaking down the field as the third quarter went on. Then Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis got flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit, setting up 1st and goal for Green Bay. On 3rd and goal, Brady threw to Adams for the touchdown, capping a drive in which Tampa Bay’s defense was badly outplayed. The Packers went for a two-point conversion but failed. That made it 28-23.

Tampa Bay’s drive got off to a promising start but was foiled. Brady got picked off by Packers cornerback Jaire Alxander after WR Mike Evans failed to make a catch. But the Bucs got the ball right back after Rodgers was sacked on third down. They gave it back, too: Brady was again intercepted on a pass intended for Mike Evans. Then Rodgers was sacked again on 3rd and 11.

The mayhem finally ended with Tampa Bay’s next drive. The highlight was a 29-yard catch-and-run by Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs managed to get within field-goal range. Kicker Ryan Succop drilled a 46-yard field goal to extend the lead. The Bucs led 31-23.

The Packers advanced once again to 1st and goal. But the Bucs defense stymied Green Bay’s offense. On 3rd and goal, Rodgers got mobile, running a few yards before throwing to Adams. But the pass was incomplete. The Packers settled for a field goal instead of going for it on 4th down. The field goal was good, and the score was now 31-26.

Back to a five-point lead, the Bucs got the ball with just over two minutes remaining. The Packers defense was flagged for encroachment. Tampa Bay picked up the first down. (The play may have been strategic, according to announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.) But that strategy was soon overshadowed by a late flag. The Packers defense got called for pass interference after an incomplete pass by Brady. Then, after a lengthy review, it was determined that the Packers had 12 men on the field. That 5-yard penalty put the Bucs at 1st and 5.

The Buccaneers finally returned to play with little more than a minute left. On 3rd and 5, Godwin took off for a first-down slide. And that first down sealed the game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won, becoming the first team ever to play the Super Bowl at home.

Super Bowl 55 will be played on Feb. 7, 2021, in Raymond James Stadium. It will be Tom Brady’s 10th Super Bowl appearance. It is head coach Bruce Arians’ first Super Bowl as coach. “We’re comin’ home, and we’re comin’ home to win,” Arians said after the game.

Biden Gets to Work On First Day in Office

Jan. 20, 2021 (Updated Jan. 22)

By Terrance Turner

President Joe Biden got right down to brass tacks after his inauguration today. After the shortened inaugural parade on Jan. 20, the new president went to his office and got to work. “There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” Biden said. “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.”

On his first day in office, President Biden signed 17 executive orders. The orders cover a wide range — from DACA to the border wall to COVID-19. Wearing a mask at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, Biden issued a mask mandate in federal buildings. The executive order requires masks to be worn on federal land and in federal buildings. The order applies to any federal employee or contractor working in these locations and facilities, according to Business Insider.

Since Biden does not have the legal authority to require every American to wear a mask, his order instead challenges the public to wear masks for 100 days. He has called on governors, mayors, and public-health officials to support him in the mission.

President Biden also created a COVID-19 “response coordinator” who will report to the president on vaccines, testing and personal protective equipment production, supply, and distribution, per CBS News. On Wednesday, Biden rejoined the World Health Organization. He put a stop to the US withdrawal process started under Trump. Biden also tapped Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to represent the US at WHO’s annual meetings this week.

Biden also rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, which the previous president had withdrawn from. The international agreement calls for dramatically reducing global greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet. Countries set their own goals to try to curb global temperature rise, with a collective aim to stay well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, according to The Independent.

Biden revoked the previous president’s “Muslim ban” — which prohibited immigration from majority-Muslim countries — and abolished the so-called “extreme vetting” practices that were hard on immigrants and led to rejected visa applications. The order also instructed the State Department to restore fairness in visa processing and remedy harms caused by the previous bans, according to Forbes.

Biden also directed an immediate halt to construction of the border wall along the U.S. Mexican border and called for a review of the legality of funding and contracting methods used by the previous administration. The order terminated the “national emergency” declaration used to justify the wall. (The U.S.-Mexico border spans over 1,900 miles; the Trump administration added merely 80 new miles of barrier fencing along the border.)

Another executive order directed the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to take appropriate measures to fortify Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and ensure that “Dreamers” be protected from deportation. Biden also revoked the prior administration’s orders to exclude undocumented individuals from the census.

Furthermore, Biden signed an order calling for an eviction moratorium until the end of February. He also requested that student loans be paused and that interest rates be set at zero percent. According to the Huffington Post, Biden has extended the pause on student loan payments until September 2021. Borrowers may defer payments without penalty.

President Biden also issued an executive order addressing workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. Titled “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation”, it is written in Biden’s voice. The order begins: “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love.  Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.  Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.  People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination.  All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.

These principles are reflected in the Constitution, which promises equal protection of the laws.  These principles are also enshrined in our Nation’s anti-discrimination laws, among them Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Biden writes. “It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gedner identity and sexual orientation,” he goes on.

The order mandates that the head of each agency shall review its order, regulations, programs, policies, etc. that may be inconsistent with Section 1. The head of each agency must then also consider whether to revise, suspend, or rescind such agency actions, or to effect new agency actions, in compliance with this. (He or she must also determine whether that policy was administered under Title II.)

The Human Rights Campaign called Biden’s order the “most substantive, wide-ranging LGBTQ order in U.S. history.”

UPDATE (Jan. 25, 2021): President Biden has signed an executive order reversing Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

A New Era Begins on Inauguration Day

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 20, 2021

Today, in an inauguration unlike any other, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar served as an emcee of sorts. The morning featured a performance of the national anthem by Lady Gaga (who campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania). Clad in a black turtleneck and dramatic red hoop skirt (with a voluminous train), Gaga delivered a masterful version of the anthem that was alternately operatic and soaring.

And then came one of the morning’s most crucial moments. Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States. Harris became the first female, first Black, and first Indian-American to become Vice President. She was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor — the first Latina on the Court.

As Vice President, Harris becomes president of the Senate. Her work begins today. This afternoon, she will be in the U.S. Capitol to execute her constitutional role and swear in three new Democratic senators: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the two Democrats elected in a Georgia special election this month, and Alex Padilla, her own successor to the California seat she resigned on Monday. But this morning, she ascended to the second-highest office in the land.

Harris used two Bibles in the ceremony, according to NPR. The first belonged to Regina Shelton, a family friend whom Harris saw as a second mother. Harris used this Bible before when she took the oath of office as both California attorney general and U.S. senator. The second Bible was was owned by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black member of the Supreme Court.

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Vice President Kamala Harris takes her oath of office. Photo from Reuters.

As NPR noted, the vice president’s oath of office is slightly different from the president’s. It’s the oath typically taken by members of Congress. And it was that oath with which Vice President Kamala Harris sealed her place in American history.

“I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Another performance followed, with Jennifer Lopez delivering a mellifluous medley of “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”. Growing increasingly impassioned after a gentle beginning, Lopez recited part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish (!) towards the end. “Una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos!” she enthused, in a nod to her Puerto Rican roots. “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Her all-white pantsuit ensemble drew praise from ABC commentator George Stephanopoulos.

Also making waves on the fashion front was country singer Garth Brooks. Mr. Brooks came down the stairs, arriving at this black-tie event in a cowboy hat, black suit jacket, and blue jeans. His inclusion came as a surprise, given his conservative country roots. But Brooks made his intentions clear days ago:  “This is not a political statement. This is a statement of unity.” And unite he did.

Removing his hat, Brooks sang a spellbinding a cappella version of “Amazing Grace”. He asked the crowd outside and those at home to sing the final verse with him. His stunning performance was followed by an equally stunning move — a warm-hearted flouting of social distancing. Upon finishing the song, Brooks shook hands with Biden, former VP Mike Pence and Vice President Harris. Then, remarkably, Brooks — a Republican — ran over and hugged former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and the Clintons.

Afterward, Joe Biden took the presidential oath of office. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts did the swearing-in. Biden placed his hand on a Bible that, according to the New York Times, has been in his family for 128 years. With his hand on that Bible and his wife by his side, Biden, 78, became the oldest president to take office.

Biden was sworn in with a 35-word oath of office at 11:49 am EST, just 11 minutes before the constitutional deadline at noon. He swore: “I, Joseph R. Robinette Biden Jr., do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.”

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President Joe Biden is sworn in as president by Justice John Roberts.

Shortly afterward, Biden delivered his inaugural address. It was a cogent, compelling call for unity and healing. “This is America’s day,” Biden began. “This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, or renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause: the cause of democracy.

The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded. We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.” The crowd broke into applause. Biden continued:

“So now, on this hallowed ground — where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation — we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries. We look ahead in our uniquely American way – restless, bold, optimistic – and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.” Biden noted that “the American way depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On ‘We the People’, who seek a more perfect union.”

“This is a great nation and we are a good people,” Biden stressed. “Over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we have come so far. But we still have far to go. We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility.

Much to repair.

Much to restore.

Much to heal.

Much to build.

And much to gain.

“Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now,” Biden went on. “A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.

A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer. A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we must confront and we will defeat.”

“To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: unity.”

Unity.

It was the name of the game throughout Biden’s address. “With unity we can do great things, Important things,” he said. “We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome this deadly virus. We can reward work, rebuild the middle class, and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice. We can make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world.

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured.”

Biden continued: “We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And, we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever failed in America when we have acted together. And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh. All of us.

Let us listen to one another. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this.

And, I believe America is better than this.

To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. And if you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength.”

“Yet hear me clearly,” he said. “Disagreement must not lead to disunion.”

“And I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans.”

“I understand that many Americans view the future with some fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs, about taking care of their families, about what comes next. I get it. But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you do, or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do.

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts,” Biden said. And in a moving display of his own heart, Biden’s first act as president was asking Americans to join him in a moment of silence for the 400,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus.

Those Americans were mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, Biden reminded us. They were our neighbors, our friends, and our co-workers, he said. “We will honor them by becoming the people and nation we know we can and should be.”

It was an elegant, eloquent speech; Chris Wallace (of Fox News!) said it was the best inaugural address he’d ever heard. But the day’s most memorable moment belonged to 22-year-old Amanda Gorman.

Joe Biden Sworn In As 46th President Of The United States At U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony : News Photo
Amanda Gorman delivers the inaugural poem on Jan. 20, 2021. Photo by Patrick Semansky.

Today, Gorman became the youngest person ever to deliver a poem at an inauguration. In a spellbinding speech that lasted nearly six minutes, she captivated the nation. She spoke of the need to both acknowledge the past and to repair it. She referenced the deadly Capitol riot that killed five people (at last count) and which symbolized an attack on democracy — in the very same area in which she and Biden spoke. In rhythmic, mesmeric, lyrical prose, she met the moment.

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice.

And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We, the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.

[…]

We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb,
If only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.

“The Hill We Climb,” by Amanda Gourmand

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

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

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: