By:
January 25, 2022

The greatest weekend in the history of the NFL playoffs.

That’s what most are calling this past weekend’s four NFL games — all of which ended with the winning points being scored on the final play.

As a lifelong football fan and follower, I cannot think of a weekend that was even close to this.

Apologies to my editor, Buffalo’s own Ren LaForme, who must read this, but the wild weekend concluded with what might have been the greatest playoff game ever: Kansas City’s incredible overtime victory against the Bills in what I swore at one point was a video game.

The teams combined for 25 points in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Then the Chiefs won in OT.

I bring that game up because it produced an absolutely stunning TV number in Kansas City. Near the end, that game drew a 90 share in the Kansas City area. That’s according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.

A 90 share!

That means 90% of all TVs on at the time in Kansas City were tuned into that game. That is a stunning number — almost unheard of. Buffalo’s TV numbers come out today and, knowing the Bills’ rabid fanbase, don’t be surprised if we see similar TV numbers. The overall game averaged an 85 share in Kansas City, which, too, is beyond impressive.

The other weekend games included Tom Brady’s near-comeback as his Bucs lost to the Rams in what could end up being the last game of his career. The 49ers knocked out Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, leading to Rodgers being dragged on social media over his diva season, which included misleading the media about his vaccination status and other head-scratching comments about COVID-19 and life in general. And in the other game, the Cincinnati Bengals upset the Tennessee Titans to reach their first conference championship game since January 1989.

Twitter was overrun with football fans agreeing that it was the most dramatic playoff weekend we’ve ever seen.

Longtime NFL reporter Peter King tweeted, “That was the best weekend of playoff football ever, for the record. I’m not sure it’s close.”

Now take that tweet and multiply it by hundreds.

Here are some pieces to recap what happened:

Of course …

The Sarah Palin defamation suit against The New York Times was supposed to get underway Monday, but has been postponed because Palin has tested positive for COVID-19. According to reports, Palin’s attorney, Kenneth G. Turkel, said in court, “She wants to be here for jury selection, she wants to testify live.”

Judge Jed S. Rakoff said about Palin: “She is, of course, unvaccinated.”

The case is now set to begin on Feb. 4.

I broke down the case in my Monday newsletter, but a quick recap: Palin sued the Times in 2017 over an editorial that wrongly linked the 2011 shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords to a map circulated by Palin’s PAC that showed certain electoral districts under the crosshairs. The Times immediately corrected and apologized for the error. But now the federal courts will hear the case. It could center on the landmark 1964 case of The New York Times v. Sullivan. That decision ruled that not only must public officials prove defamation, but that the news outlet did it with “actual malice.”

Most legal experts do not think Palin will win, but she could push this to the Supreme Court and try to lower the standards set in the Sullivan case. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have suggested they would revisit the standard set by The New York Times v. Sullivan.

Wait, there’s more …

There’s more to the Palin story. The New York Times’ Priya Krishna reports that Palin dined indoors at an Italian restaurant in New York City called Elio’s on Saturday night. Now here’s the issue. Palin is unvaccinated and New York City requires indoor diners to show proof of vaccination.

Luca Guaitolini, a manager for the restaurant, told Krishna, “We just made a mistake.”

Guaitolini said the restaurant typically checks first-time guests for proof of vaccination, but not regulars. She told Krishna that Palin dined with a regular longtime guest. (She would not say who.)

Guaitolini said, “She probably just walked in and strolled over (to the table). We are trying to get to the bottom of this.”

Video of the day

President Joe Biden, speaking on Monday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Ask a dumb question and you might get an answer you don’t like. President Joe Biden responded to a knucklehead question from Fox News’ Peter Doocy during an event at the White House on Monday.

The question? Doocy, as reporters were leaving the room, asked, “Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?”

Biden’s hot mic answer wasn’t the worst thing ever uttered, but he did cross the line by calling Doocy a derogatory name. Biden needs to do better. After all, he’s the president.

Here’s the video.

On Monday night, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported that Biden called Doocy and apologized. Doocy confirmed that news to Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Doocy told Hannity that he and Biden cleared the air and that Biden told him, “It was nothing personal, pal.” Doocy added he appreciated the apology and that it was a “nice call.”

Book it

Add another program to CNN+, the streaming network scheduled to launch this spring. Jake Tapper will host a weekly show called “Jake Tapper’s Book Club.”

Tapper will interview newsmaking authors and his favorite writers.

In a statement, Tapper said, “My lifelong love of books is no secret, and I am grateful for the opportunity to sit down with some of my all-time favorite authors on CNN+. This show is designed for book lovers, and I am hopeful that by highlighting authors from all walks of life, we can illuminate the magic in the stories they tell for audiences everywhere.”

Word of the day: B-A-N-N-E-D.

If you’re regularly on Twitter, you’ve likely seen users post their Wordle results. (If you don’t know what Wordle is then welcome back from your cave and here’s a quick primer.)

Not everyone is overjoyed about seeing all these Wordle posts, but one bot in particular was ruining the good time. @wordlinator was a bot that not only replied to Wordle posts with rude responses, but also spoilers for the next day’s game.

On Monday, Twitter banned the bot.

The Verge’s Mitchell Clark wrote, “While this particular bot is gone, Twitter could become a dangerous place for people who want to post their Wordle results — the internet has already figured out how to predict what the next word will be, and someone else could make another bot to do the same thing as Wordlinator. (If you do end up seeing a new version of the bot, it’s best to block it to keep it from spoiling you and your followers.)”

The legend grows

Speaking of games, Amy Schneider continues her dominant run on “Jeopardy!” Schneider won her 39th consecutive game in the show that aired Monday to pass Matt Amodio for the second-longest streak in “Jeopardy!” history. Amodio’s streak was just earlier this season.

Now Schneider tries to track down a record many thought unbreakable: Ken Jennings’ streak of 74 wins in a row, set in 2004. Interestingly, Jennings is now hosting “Jeopardy!”, along with Mayim Bialik.

What’s remarkable about Schneider’s streak is just how dominant she has been. Nearly every game is a runaway — meaning she has more than doubled her opponents going into “Final Jeopardy.” She also is rarely wrong. Whenever she is the first to buzzer in, her answers are correct 95% of the time.

Here’s more from The New York Times’ Julia Jacobs.

Media tidbits

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Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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