This Week in Sports Talk: February 7, 2021
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This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly roundup of top headlines and current events from the past seven days in the world of sports, plus a preview of what’s up next. Heading into the week of February 7, 2021, here’s how to talk about the top sports news of the moment. Skim it, and you’ll be good to go all week.
This Week in Sports Talk: February 7, 2021
You’ve probably heard there’s a big NFL game today. We’ve got some info on that, and also on the surprising number of other sports stories that hit our top 10 radar this week.
1. Super Bowl Sunday – essential information
Super Bowl LV kicks off at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida around 6:30P Eastern this evening. It’s the defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Grammy-nominated artists Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan will sing the national anthem together. Grammy-winning singer H.E.R. will perform “America the Beautiful.”
Poet Amanda Gorman, who spoke at this year’s Inauguration, will do a reading honoring three pandemic heroes before the coin toss.
The Weeknd is doing the halftime honors this year. He’ll perform from the bleachers rather than center field to minimize the exposure of the ground crew and support staff due to COVID-19 (usually there’s an epic swarm of people charged with constructing the stage for the halftime performance as soon as the teams clear the field).
The advertising during the game is a reason that many of us like to watch, but this year a significant number of companies have decided to opt out of buying a Super Bowl ad. Due to the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Ford, Little Caesars, Olay and Budweiser have all gone dark this year.
Who will win? The consensus from Vegas and a large host of prognosticators is that the Chiefs will take home the Lombardi Trophy. Whenever everyone piles in on one side, it makes us want to take the other side – who do you have for the win, dear reader?
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2. Super Bowl Sunday – fun facts
There are lots of other fun facts to share about this game.
This is the first time that a team has played in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. At 43, Tom Brady is the oldest man to ever play in a Super Bowl. Tampa Bay Head Coach Bruce Arians has never won a Super Bowl as head coach, so that’s another emotional element of this game. If the Buccaneers win, it’ll be the first time since 2002.
On the other side, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is trying to win two Super Bowls in row – the last time that happened was when Tom Brady did it with the New England Patriots.
Speaking of which, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made his affection for his former quarterback clear. “I’m rooting for Tom Brady,” Kraft told CBS Sunday Morning during an interview that will air today. “I really hope he wins.”
Twitter has jumped in on the fun, launching a new emoji just for Super Bowl LV. Since Brady is considered the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) and Mahomes is considered his natural successor in that capacity, the emoji portrays “a grown goat with Brady’s number, and a little goat with Mahomes’ number.”
We’re not convinced that either of these gentlemen will be happy with how they’re portrayed. Seriously, what grown man wants to be portrayed as a baby goat? Or a long-bearded grizzly old goat? Maybe that will be just a little extra motivation for both of them.
3. In other NFL news . . .
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the NFL MVP of the regular season. During his acceptance speech, he announced that he’s engaged, but declined to share the name of his betrothed. Which is kind of weird, no?
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Philadelphia Eagles’ former starting quarterback Carson Wentz would prefer a fresh start with another team in the 2021-22 season. But at the moment, the Eagles don’t seem inclined to trade him. New Head Coach Nick Sirianni will surely have something to say here. Watch this space for further updates.
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4. NBA All-Star Game is back on – we think
After initially canceling the 2021 All-Star Game (ASG) due to COVID concerns, the NBA has reversed its decision to skip the event and is reportedly planning on holding the 2021 ASG in Atlanta on March 7.
Sources note that both the league and the players’ union see holding the All-Star Game as a way to raise money for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) and for COVID-19 relief efforts. Of course, it would also allow them to recover some of the financial losses sustained during the coronavirus pandemic due to a shorter season two years in a row.
At least one superstar is not on board with this plan, though. LeBron James made a strong statement against the idea of holding the game this year. By the way, this week King James passed Wilt Chamberlain for third place on NBA’s all-time field goals made list in a win over the Denver Nuggets.
5. KD is sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols
The impact of coronavirus protocols is starting to grate on NBA players. Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant (KD) is vocally chafing at the restrictions imposed by the league that saw him first sidelined from Friday night’s game against Toronto, then allowed to play, then abruptly pulled in the third quarter (the Nets went on to lose to the Raptors, 123-117).
He’s now sidelined for 7 days due to contract tracing protocols.
6. MLB’s Trevor Bauer signs with the Dodgers
In the end, it came down to two teams vying to sign the last high-profile free agent in the MLB, the ace Trevor Bauer. The New York Mets and the defending World Series Champions the LA Dodgers both made a play for him. And the Dodgers got their man.
The defending World Series champions and Bauer have signed a three-year deal for $102 million. That’s the highest single-season salary in MLB history in each of the next two years. And he has the right to opt out of the deal at the end of each season.
The start of MLB Spring Training is only two weeks away – can you believe it? The MLB players union rejected the league’s proposal for a delayed 154-game season. So the season will start on time – barring unforeseen developments with the coronavirus pandemic, of course.
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7. National Signing Day for college football
At this week’s college football National Signing Day, athletes revealed which college teams they’re joining. No surprises here: Alabama was first choice for the top talent. The Crimson Tide’s incoming class has 16 of the top 91 players in the country, including seven five-star prospects.
8. will Michigan State make March Madness?
As college basketball’s NCAA March Madness approaches, for the first time since the 1996-97 season, the Michigan State Spartans may not punch their ticket to the dance. Meanwhile, their arch rivals the Michigan Wolverines are sitting pretty at No. 4. Selection Sunday is only five weeks away, and there are a lot of teams in uncertain positions.
College hoops has seen a lot of surprises this season, and this week was no exception. No. 18 Missouri upset No. 10 Alabama. Unranked UNC beat unranked Duke at home, 91-87. And No. 25 Drake holds a perfect 18-0 record, second only to No. 1 Gonzaga.
Meanwhile, St. John’s is on a 6-game winning streak after an upset over third-ranked Villanova this weekend.
9. NHL severely impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks
Late this week, the New Jersey Devils and the Minnesota Wild announced they’re suspending their seasons due to coronavirus. Four NHL teams are shut down right now due to the virus (the Vegas Golden Knights and Buffalo Sabres are the other two).
10. Singles draws for the Australian Open
Friday night the Australian Open released the singles draws for the tournament. Eight-time and defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is the top seed in the men’s draw. Australia’s Ashleigh Barty is the No.1 seed in the women’s field.
Serena Williams’ path to winning her 24th Grand Slam sees her potentially facing off against Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka and Barty in succession. The tournament begins tomorrow.
This Week in Sports Talk February 7, 2021
That’s it. You’re good to go with the top sports headlines and coming attractions heading into the week of February 7, 2021. Stay safe and healthy, dear reader. See you next week.
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.