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    Two halftime views: one inside the stadium, one watching on TV.

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySuper Bowl Live Updates: Bucs Closing in on ChampionshipTwo halftime views: one inside the stadium, one watching on TV.Feb. 7, 2021, 8:39 p.m. ETFeb. 7, 2021, 8:39 p.m. ETKevin Draper and The Weeknd performing in the halftime show.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesAs always, the halftime view looked different depending on your seat:Kevin Draper, watching on TV: The Weeknd promised a different take on the halftime performance, and he delivered. With enforced social distancing and complicated logistics, he performed from the stands, not in the headliner’s normal spot on the field, on a stage that was not surrounded by hundreds of dancing fans the way it usually is.He opened with “Starboy” on a stage in front of a neon mock city skyline set, accompanied by dozens in a choir, before the set parted and he entered a brightly lit gold hallway surrounded by masked look-alikes. He performed the entirety of “Starboy” before making his way onto the field to sing his mega-hit “Blinding Lights,” accompanied once again by the hundreds of masked look-alikes — all of them wearing sparkly red jackets and black pants and carefully socially distanced for much of the song — as a barrage of fireworks went off.A view of the stadium during the show.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesBen Hoffman, inside Raymond James Stadium: The most striking thing about the performance inside the stadium was how few moving pieces there were. A typical halftime show involves the entire field’s being taken over by stages and fans. The Weeknd simply walked out onto a prebuilt stage in the end zone (only feet away from the stadium’s iconic pirate ship) and began singing. With the performance so confined — and with so much of the crowd on the opposite side of the stadium — most of it didn’t feel much different than if it had been played on a video screen. The crowd swayed around a little, but nothing like in past years where fans of the main performers were brought out specifically for the show. The upside, of course, is the relative lack of cleanup. Even with some dancers — dressed up like the Weeknd’s heavily-bandaged character — taking the field toward the end of the show, the field stayed pristine and was ready to go almost as soon as the performance ended.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    The Bucs trade a field goal for a touchdown. It’s Gronkowski again.

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySuper Bowl Live Updates: Bucs Closing in on ChampionshipThe Bucs trade a field goal for a touchdown. It’s Gronkowski again.Feb. 7, 2021, 7:48 p.m. ETFeb. 7, 2021, 7:48 p.m. ETRob Gronkowski celebrates touchdown No. 2. Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesMoments after a Ryan Succop field goal was taken off the board when a Chiefs penalty gave the Bucs a first down, Brady steps back and finds Gronkowski again. It’s 14-3 as we close in on halftime.The Chiefs may be the defending Super Bowl champions but in the first half, in multiple ways, they have played like a fidgety team cowed by the weight of a Super Bowl appearance. The Buccaneers do not score their second touchdown without three Chiefs blunders. It began with a 29-yard punt by Kansas City’s rookie punter Tommy Townsend, who earlier had a 27-yard punt.Townsend’s kick gave Tampa Bay possession at the Kansas City 38. The drive was extended twice by Chiefs errors: First, an interception of a deflected Brady pass was nullified by a defensive holding penalty, and then Kansas City lined up offside on the Succop field-goal attempt. That mistake gave the Buccaneers a first down and on the next play, Brady connected with Gronkowski for his second touchdown reception.Twice as nice 😁📺: #SBLV on CBS pic.twitter.com/ud3uCHFfht— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 8, 2021
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    Brady turns a couple more Chiefs mistakes into another touchdown.

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySuper Bowl Live Updates: Bucs Closing in on ChampionshipBrady turns a couple more Chiefs mistakes into another touchdown.Feb. 7, 2021, 8:13 p.m. ETFeb. 7, 2021, 8:13 p.m. ETLeaving Brady a minute was, in hindsight, a big mistake.But the Chiefs made a few of their own, too: They called timeout before a third-down play to try to force a punt but didn’t make a stop on the ensuing play, then got whistled for a 34-yard pass-interference penalty. A Leonard Fournette run and another penalty put the ball on the 1-yard line with 10 seconds left.And from there, Brady dropped back and rocketed a pass to Brown. Touchdown. It’s 21-6 now, and that Chiefs momentum they just had is gone.BOOMIN 🤙📺: #SBLV on CBS pic.twitter.com/ytAgUhB7Lh— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 8, 2021
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    Touchdown? NO! The Chiefs stop Jones on fourth-and-goal.

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySuper Bowl Live Updates: Bucs Closing in on ChampionshipTouchdown? NO! The Chiefs stop Jones on fourth-and-goal.Feb. 7, 2021, 7:31 p.m. ETFeb. 7, 2021, 7:31 p.m. ETCredit…Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesAfter narrowly missing on the Super Bowl dream — a lineman touchdown reception — the Bucs ram running back Ronald Jones II at the Chiefs on two straight runs at the goal line. Kansas City stuffs the first and then, stunning the Tampa crowd, does the same on the next play. This could be a big early momentum shift.The Bucs challenged the call, but the line was so jammed there wasn’t really a view to review, or reason to overturn the call on the field.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    The Bucs’ defensive pressure is responsible for Mahomes’s slow start.

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySuper Bowl Live Updates: Bucs Closing in on ChampionshipThe Bucs’ defensive pressure is responsible for Mahomes’s slow start.Feb. 7, 2021, 7:16 p.m. ETFeb. 7, 2021, 7:16 p.m. ETPatrick Mahomes started the game 1 of 6 for 3 yards passing.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York TimesPatrick Mahomes completed only one of his first six passes, which isn’t surprising when you consider that he’s been throwing on the run from the start of the game. In fact, he’s been doing almost everything on the run.Mahomes’s one completion was for three yards. But he has rushed three times for 24 yards. It all adds to a quarterback who is not being well protected. Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has thrown a variety of blitz looks at the Chiefs, including sending both cornerbacks on a third-and-8. Mahomes, as he often does, avoided the pressure but had to throw while sprinting, which led to another incompletion — a dart intended for Tyreek Hill that nailed Hill in the helmet. The pass, from the Tampa Bay 31-yard line was the Chiefs’ best shot at the end zone. The drive ended with a Kansas City Field goal.Tyreek unable to bring in the first TD of the game as the ball goes off of his helmet. pic.twitter.com/lpNNsq05B6— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) February 8, 2021
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    Amanda Gorman is the first poet to perform for the Super Bowl.

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Super Bowl 2021liveGame UpdatesThe CommercialsHalftime ShowTom Brady Endures at 43Fans Still Traveled for the GameAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySuper Bowl Live Updates: Bucs Closing in on ChampionshipAmanda Gorman is the first poet to perform for the Super Bowl.Feb. 7, 2021, 6:33 p.m. ETFeb. 7, 2021, 6:33 p.m. ETAmanda Gorman at President Biden’s inauguration last month.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York TimesIn her short but already momentous career, the 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman has accomplished a stunning series of firsts. At 19, she became the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate. Last month, when she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s inauguration, she became the youngest inaugural poet in American history. And on Sunday, she became the first poet ever to perform for the Super Bowl.Before the game, Gorman delivered an original poem titled “Chorus of the Captains” in a taped segment. Gorman wrote the poem to celebrate three people who were chosen as honorary captains to take part in the coin toss: Trimaine Davis, a Los Angeles teacher who helped his students get laptops for remote schooling; Suzie Dorner, a nurse in a Tampa who works with Covid-19 patients in an intensive care unit, and James Martin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Pittsburgh who has worked to support veterans, high school athletes and young people in his community.In a performance before the coin toss, Gorman paid homage to the honorary captains:Today we honor our three captainsFor their actions and impact inA time of uncertainty and need.They’ve taken the lead,Exceeding all expectations and limitations,Uplifting their communities and neighborsAs leaders, healers, and educatorsEver since she stole the show with a charismatic performance at the inauguration last month, Gorman has seen interest in her work soar. Her publisher announced that it will print three million copies of her upcoming titles, which include her debut poetry collection and a picture book. Barack Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Oprah Winfrey praised her on social media. IMG Models signed Gorman and will represent her for fashion and beauty endorsements.Appearing at the Super Bowl will likely bring an even larger audience to her work. The N.F.L. contacted Gorman in November, when the league was trying to create a ceremony that would reflect the challenges the country is facing. It decided to open the game by celebrating people who have helped their communities through the pandemic.“We knew that in order to honor them properly — and all of those across the country that they represent — we needed the right words that would match the power of that moment, and there’s no one more perfectly suited to bring those words to the world than Amanda Gorman,” Matt Shapiro, the N.F.L.’s vice president of events strategy, said in a statement.At the end of her poem, Gorman cited the tireless work of Dorner, the intensive care nurse, as proof that “even in tragedy, hope is possible.”We celebrate them by actingWith courage and compassion,By doing what is right and just.For while we honor them today,It is they who every day honor us.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Tom Brady, Defying Age, Heads to Another Super Bowl

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Super Bowl 2021Why the Chiefs Will WinTom Brady vs. Patrick MahomesA Super Bowl Trip Is Worth the Risk to Some Fans17 Recipes for Tiny TailgatesAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyThrough Genetics, Luck or ‘Prehab,’ Tom Brady Endures at 43The mother of the opposing Super Bowl LV quarterback was a year old when Brady was born. What’s he still doing here?Tom Brady, seemingly defying nature at 43, is about to play in his 10th Super Bowl. Credit…Brett Duke/Associated PressFeb. 7, 2021Updated 9:11 a.m. ETFootball fans know what old quarterbacks look like as they fade away. It is not like Tom Brady.Old quarterbacks hobble around the field, propped on stiff hips and achy knees, their arms ragged and their faces craggy. They look like survivors, elevated in myth but diminished in stature.Vaults and minds are filled with clips of Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Brett Favre and all the other creaky quarterbacks who tempted the fates of time and tradition, shunning retirement until deep — maybe too deep — into Hall-of-Fame careers.When John Elway played his last game, winning a Super Bowl, he was 38. Peyton Manning did the same at 39. Rigid and worn, older quarterbacks usually move as if they might be unable to tie the laces on their cleats.Then there is Brady, a cyborg. He is 43. Does he have a wrinkle on his face? Is his arm bionic? Are his joints made of rubber? He probably can tie his own laces while doing downward dog.“You look at this guy and think, ‘Wow, it’s absolutely incredible,” said Gordon Lithgow, a professor and vice president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif. “Is he actually aging at a slower rate than other people?”That is the question football fans are asking ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl LV between Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.The answer appears to be yes, at least in football terms. The hard question is why.“There’s no way that elite athletes are immune to aging,” Lithgow said. “You can see quite a precipitous drop-off in performance — even though they are way above average, it’s still happening at the same rates.”Brady, who is in his first season with Tampa Bay after 20 years with the New England Patriots, will be the oldest player to participate in a Super Bowl, at any position. He is the only quarterback to start a Super Bowl after age 40, and he is about to do it for the third time.Brady was born in 1977, the summer of “Star Wars,” Son of Sam and the death of Elvis (at 42, notably). Brady has been alive for every victory in Tampa Bay franchise history. (The Buccaneers were 0-14 in 1976, their inaugural season.)The 18-year age gap between him and Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the biggest ever between Super Bowl starting quarterbacks. When Brady was born, Mahomes’s mother was 1.Brady, who will face Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl, is a contemporary of Mahomes’s mother.Credit…Jason Behnken/Associated PressBrady was selected in the 2000 N.F.L. draft and has been a starting quarterback since New England’s second game after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Each of the 11 other quarterbacks drafted in 2000 (Brady was the seventh taken) has been out of the N.F.L. for at least nine years. This will be his 10th Super Bowl. He has won six of them and earned the game’s Most Valuable Player Award four times.“If anyone has any superlatives that haven’t been used yet, you know how to get in touch with me,” said Jim Nantz, the Super Bowl play-by-play announcer for CBS. “My reservoir is bone dry.”Sports fans are accustomed to the inevitability of late-career declines by stars. But this season Brady threw 40 touchdowns, the second-highest total of his career. Still mobile in the pocket, he was sacked at a lower rate than his career average. Hardly a weak-armed version of his past self, he recorded an average air distance on his throws, whether completed or not, that was longer (9.1 yards) than in the previous two seasons with New England.Brady looks more like his younger self than like a doddering old quarterback.Is he the best athlete ever? How can that be measured?Brady may not be the best football player, or even the best quarterback. But through an incalculable algorithm of excellence, consistency and time, Brady might come out No. 1.Peddling His PliabilityBrady, though, might not be No. 1 in the hearts of football fans. Age and accomplishment bring respect to older athletes, but Brady and the Patriots dynasty of the past two decades proved especially hard to adore for those outside New England. They won steadily behind their cranky coach, Bill Belichick, and the cool Brady, who long ago shed any underdog charm he brought into the league as a sixth-round draft pick.The Patriots rarely dazzled. They were seldom fun. They were respected in the way that steamrollers are. They swapped coordinators, shuffled the roster and got older, yet Belichick and Brady kept winning. It was hard to explain. Any awe came from their relentless efficiency.Controversies surrounding accusations of cheating — Spygate in 2007, Deflategate in 2015 — cling loosely to their championships, like dryer sheets on fresh laundry.Brady’s skills have never been obvious, but he was always there, smiling and holding the trophy. It could seem a bit much — his persistent winning, his sunny but vapid California disposition, his supermodel wife, his Uggs.Now he is recast with the Buccaneers, an innocuous franchise that elicits little emotional reflex, playing for an affable coach in Bruce Arians, an anti-Belichick. And Brady, wearing a new costume, performs like a carnival act — Come see the ageless man! — as audiences gather in wonder for another look, if not the last one.Nantz has twice thought he had broadcast Brady’s last game — two years ago in a Super Bowl victory, last season in a playoff loss. Will this Super Bowl be the end? It does not seem so. Brady talks of playing to 45, maybe beyond.His age is now his business. Brady has marketed his longevity, packaged it into something called the TB12 Method, and explained it in a 2017 book espousing muscle “pliability.” The goal is a spongy elasticity that can absorb all that life throws at a body, even that of an aging quarterback.Brady’s longevity is now his business. His company offers TB12 Performance Meals, “freshly frozen for your active lifestyle.”Credit…Maddie Meyer/Getty Images“Balderdash,” one physiology professor has said of the pliability theory.Brady’s long career is not just vital to the pitch. It is the pitch. The main headline on the TB12 home page reads, “Still Here,” mocking our amazement. The implication is clear: The elusive Fountain of Youth might come boxed in a “TB12 Immunity Gameplan Starter Kit” ($175).There are no N.F.L. logos, no mentions of the Patriots or Buccaneers — just the lure of youthfulness and positivity. Whenever he retires from football, Brady will still be in our lives, selling not cars, pizza or insurance, but aspiration and lifestyle — part Jack LaLanne, part Gwyneth Paltrow.Items for sale include TB12 Performance Meals, “freshly frozen for your active lifestyle.” Brady’s diet is mostly plant-based — but no strawberries, because he detests the smell of them, a trait that football opponents have somehow been unable to exploit. He fills his body with protein shakes, TB12-branded electrolytes and lots of water — “Drink at least one-half of your body weight in ounces of water daily,” he instructs on the site.TB12 also sells dietary supplements, exercise equipment (lots of stretchy bands and vibrating rollers and balls) and clothing (including shirts reading “20 Seasons” and “Tampa Brady”).Acolytes can make an appointment with a TB12 Body Coach, “your partner in performance and recovery,” either virtually or at one of several TB12 locations in Massachusetts and Florida. “Replacing injury and rehab with pliability and prehab” is a catchphrase. Sleep and mindfulness are also promoted at TB12 as key components to good health.The prevailing mood is calm, which feels counter to football’s grunting culture of power and testosterone. All that is missing are candles scented like Tom Brady.Does his philosophy work? Is that the key to his football longevity, or is Brady merely the beneficiary of great genes and luck?After all, he has not missed a game because of injury since 2008.“Genetics is probably less than 10 percent of the equation,” Lithgow, the aging expert, said. “That means that there’s a whole lot of stuff out there, in terms of environment, everything we’re exposed to, that actually plays a much, much larger part — which is kind of good news, actually. It means that maybe we have some ability to control our own rate of aging.”Brady and his “method” suggest that he has found the optimal blend of diet, exercise and sleep. Those factors certainly affect aging, Lithgow said.“But — and it’s a big but,” he said, “with any of these interventions or systems, we can’t say anything about them until they’re subject to a normal double-blind clinical trial.”“If you find something that works for you, that’s great,” Lithgow added. “That’s just looking after yourself, and it’s not science, and it’s not something you can necessarily recommend for your next-door neighbor because they may respond completely differently to it.”For someone so adept at selling himself, Brady has been shrouded in suspicion of his own making. In 2015, he was the focus of Deflategate, the N.F.L. investigation into whether Brady instructed team employees to reduce the air pressure in footballs below the league standard to gain some sort of advantage. (Brady was suspended in 2016 for four games, the only ones he has missed since 2008.) In recent years, a relationship with the controversial fitness guru Alex Guerrero has further cast Brady as someone trying to hide something.Alex Guerrero, a fitness guru who is Brady’s partner in TB12, is also the quarterback’s trainer, counselor and adviser, as well as godfather to one of his sons.Credit…Scott Eisen/Getty ImagesGuerrero, a purveyor of holistic medicine, was charged in 2004 by the Federal Trade Commission with deceptively marketing an herbal supplement called Supreme Greens. Infomercials starring “Dr. Guerrero” (he has no doctorate or license to practice medicine) claimed the product could prevent and cure cancer, diabetes and heart disease, among other maladies, and spur substantial weight loss. The case was settled in 2005, and Guerrero was required to pay $65,000 or to give up his 2004 Cadillac Escalade.That is about when Brady and Guerrero began working closely together. They founded TB12 in 2013. In 2015, a New York Times article referred to Guerrero as Brady’s “best friend” and “his spiritual guide, counselor, pal, nutrition adviser, trainer, massage therapist and family member.” He is a godfather to one of Brady’s sons.Guerrero’s constant presence around the Patriots reportedly caused friction with Belichick, who kept Guerrero off the team plane and limited his sideline access in 2017. In 2018, another player working with Guerrero, receiver Julian Edelman, was suspended for four games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.Brady has made theater of not discussing Guerrero. During a weekly radio obligation in Boston in 2018, he refused to answer questions about Guerrero and hung up.After Brady’s contract expired last year, the Patriots reportedly did not offer a new deal. Only two teams, the Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers, took serious runs at him. Brady left for Tampa Bay, taking Guerrero with him.In October, Brady posted birthday wishes to Guerrero on Instagram. “It’s not often in life we find people that share so many common beliefs,” he wrote, in part. “Love you big bro!!”A Merchandising PhenomenonWhatever Brady is doing, his ability to defy his age has captured the collective imagination of football fans.When the N.F.L. playoffs began, they seemed like a seniors tournament. Drew Brees (42), Philip Rivers (39), Ben Roethlisberger (38) and Aaron Rodgers (37) all led their teams into the postseason. Each is likely to end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Only the oldest of the elders, Brady, reached the Super Bowl — again.Last year, Mahomes merchandise (jerseys and numbered T-shirts) set sales records during the two weeks before the Super Bowl, according to Fanatics, which operates online stores for the N.F.L.Brady merchandise surpassed the two-week total for Mahomes items just three days after Tampa Bay won a spot in the Super Bowl, the company said.Buccaneers fans on Tampa’s Riverwalk. Brady has said he would like to play in the N.F.L. until he is 45 and perhaps beyond.Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times“The greatest who ever walked,” said the former quarterback Tony Romo, who will be Nantz’s broadcast partner for the Super Bowl.Romo had a 14-year N.F.L. career, long by most standards. But he is three years younger than Brady, and he retired four seasons ago with a sore back.Fans know what old quarterbacks look like. They can see one in the broadcast booth on Sunday.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    How the Chiefs and Buccaneers Got to the Super Bowl

    How the Chiefs and Buccaneers Got to the Super BowlJason Behnken/Associated PressNearly everyone expected Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to be back in the Super Bowl. Far fewer people thought Tom Brady, at 43, could take Tampa Bay this far.Here’s a look at the road to Sunday’s game for both teams → More