NEW YORK (AP) — The Super Bowl put a halt to a four-year decline in viewership, with an estimated 99.9 million people watching the Kansas City Chiefs come back to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in what is annually the most-watched television event of the year.
The Nielsen company said viewership rebounded slightly from the 98.5 million who watched in 2019. An exciting game that featured a fourth quarter comeback and two teams that haven't been in the ultimate game lately most likely helped drive public interest.
Super Bowl viewership had been slowly eroding since its peak in 2015, when 114.4 million watched a thrilling finish between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
Halftime show performer Jennifer Lopez led all personalities with 2.2 million interactions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, according to Nielsen. Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City quarterback who won Super Bowl MVP, was the top player with 514,000 interactions.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Willie Wood, the Hall of Fame defensive back who won five NFL championships with the Green Bay Packers under coach Vince Lombardi and made the first interception in Super Bowl history, died. He was 83.
Wood died of natural causes in Washington, according to Robert Schmidt, his longtime friend and former teammate at Southern California. Wood had suffered from advanced dementia for several years.
After being undrafted out of Southern California, Wood sent postcards to several NFL teams seeking a tryout. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder signed as a free agent with the Packers and played safety for them from 1960-71.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vernon Davis announced his retirement after 14 NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins that included winning a Super Bowl title.
The 36-year-old said he decided to retire because of the wear and year on his body. Davis said he's walking away from football while his body is still healthy enough to pursue other opportunities.
A 6-foot-3, 248-pound tight end, Davis stayed in the NFL and remained productive so long in part because of his meticulous physical conditioning. He said during his final pro seasons that he trained year-round like some players do during the season and credited that for staying on the field.
MOSCOW (AP) — The entire board of the Russian Athletics Federation resigned as Russia faces another ban from Olympic track and field.
The federation, known as RusAF, said the board stepped down after a meeting with new Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, citing its failure to resolve Russian track's long-running difficulties with the world governing body.
The federation has been suspended by World Athletics since 2015 over widespread doping, but the crisis has deepened in recent months.
In November, the federation's then-president, Dmitry Shlyakhtin, was among seven people issued disciplinary charges of obstructing an anti-doping investigation using fake documents. The case led World Athletics to freeze a program allowing top Russians to compete internationally as neutral athletes. That had been a stepping stone to forming a Russian team for the Olympics in Tokyo.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers' first game since Kobe Bryant's death was the second-most watched regular-season NBA game on ESPN.
The game Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers averaged 4.41 million viewers. The only telecast to surpass that since ESPN resumed NBA coverage in 2002-03 was a January 2003 game between the Lakers and Houston Rockets that featured the first matchup between Shaquille O'Neal and Yao Ming (4.88 million).
According to Nielsen, the Bryant pregame ceremony averaged 5.23 million viewers. The audience peaked at 6.07 million between 10:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern, which was the conclusion of the ceremony and the start of the game.
By comparison, a game between Houston and the Denver Nuggets scheduled during a similar time slot last year averaged 1.6 million.
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros hired James Click as their new general manager, taking the Tampa Bay Rays executive and putting him in charge of the scandal-ridden team a week before the start of spring training.
Click succeeds Jeff Luhnow, who along with manager AJ Hinch was suspended by Major League Baseball last month in the wake of a sign-stealing scam and then fired by the Astros.
Houston, coming off a Game 7 loss to Washington in the World Series, hired Dusty Baker last week as manager.
Astros owner Jim Crane announced the addition of Click, who spent the last three seasons as the Rays' vice president of baseball operations. The 42-year-old Click had been with Tampa Bay for the last 14 seasons.
The head of the French skating federation has been asked to resign by the country's sports minister after she grilled him over a string of accusations of sexual abuse and rape against a coach of underage skaters.
Federation head Didier Gailhaguet was not directly targeted by the claims but was asked by Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu about coach Gilles Beyer, who has been accused of rape and continued to work with the federation following an investigation that raised suspicion in the early 2000s.
Gailhaguet was called in following the publication of a book last week in which Sarah Abitbol, a 10-time French champion and bronze medalist in the pairs at the 2000 world championships, accused Beyer of raping her from 1990 to 1992 when she was a teenager.