He is not my cup of tea. In fact, he scares me.

But it is time for me to hand out my year-end award for the top political player in the United States.

These days, there needs to be one prize for Republicans and a separate trophy for Democrats due to our nation’s polarized politics. Unlike the controversial Republican winner, I will celebrate the triumphant Democrats without reservation later in this column. 

But the one politician who stands out at year’s end is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

His commanding 19-point reelection victory, as well as his success in attracting mega-donors like Ken Griffin, Steve Ross, and Steve Schwarzman ahead of a possible 2024 presidential campaign, make him the past year’s big GOP winner.  

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are increasingly turning their gaze from former President Trump and taking their cues from DeSantis on the best ways to appeal to their base. That makes the former congressman among the most influential Republicans in the nation for 2023.

If Republicans in Congress begin constructing a legislative agenda with Democrats in the Senate and White House, DeSantis’s consent will be critical. He showed a pragmatic willingness to build bipartisan bridges in the past year as he worked with President Biden to rebuild areas of Florida devastated by Hurricane Ian.

But don’t be fooled. It is the governor’s belligerent style of governance that makes him the favorite of ultra-conservative activists. 

Then there is his love of waging hard-right culture wars, to the point of taking on Disney on gay rights. With his challenge to the corporate giant and iconic Florida employer, DeSantis has made himself into a figure often described by Republicans as “Trump without the baggage.” 

After Trump’s many proxy losses in the midterms, the right is looking for options. DeSantis has made himself the first option. 

Among political insiders, DeSantis gets points for ramming through a congressional redistricting map for the Sunshine State that netted four more Republican-leaning seats in the House. Those seats are critical to the Republicans’ slim House majority.

At time of writing, the GOP is assured of 220 seats in the House compared to the Democrats’ 213. Two races remain too close to call. 

DeSantis’ impact on Florida politics is also enormous.

With him as governor, Republicans control the state legislature and every major statewide office. Both of the state’s U.S. senators are Republicans and the GOP has a 20-8 majority in Florida’s congressional delegation. One member of that delegation, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R), is a leading candidate to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful in Congress. 

“What the election results in Florida show is that Florida really has a blueprint for success,” DeSantis told a Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Now let’s hand out the ‘Politician of the Year’ prize on the other side of the political divide. There is no need to fear what is to come from these winners.

The 2022 award goes to the Democrats on Capitol Hill. The party defied historical patterns in midterms to keep its Senate majority. Democrats also blew away most predictions in limiting their losses in the House.

Special credit goes to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Gary Peters of Michigan. 

Not a single Democratic incumbent senator lost his or her reelection bid. Polls show Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) leading his Republican challenger Herschel Walker heading into next week’s runoff in Georgia.

Schumer’s steady hand also delivered big legislative wins for Biden and the Democrats on prescription drug costs, infrastructure and climate change. He did it on the toughest possible playing field because he needed every one of the 50 Democrats in the Senate to buy his approach. 

On the House side, my gut wants me to celebrate Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But in previous years, I named her a “living legend.” She ranks above any political winner for any single year.

Think about her legacy. 

She deftly managed the House through the chaos of the Trump years, successfully impeaching him twice.

In an earlier stint as Speaker, she shepherded through the biggest expansion of health coverage in a generation by winning passage of the Affordable Care Act — and saved the economy from catastrophe with the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act. 

In 2022, she is a big winner for her incredible success in delivering votes to advance Biden’s agenda.

Now Pelosi, who is 82, and her deputy Steny Hoyer, who is 83, have made another winning decision by stepping aside for younger Democratic leaders.

“For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said in a moving speech to the House on November 17.

“When I came to the Congress in 1987, there were 12 Democratic women. Now, there are over 90. And we want more!” Pelosi added. “The new members of our Democratic caucus will be about 75 percent women, people of color and LGBTQ.”

A consolation prize for politician of the year goes to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). He lost his bid for reelection, but Maloney did an excellent job of allocating resources to protect an incredible number of vulnerable Democrats.

History will look back on congressional Democrats’ success in 2022 as a victory over the forces that threatened the future of American democracy. 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

A Los Angeles city council member told Dr. Phil on Friday that kids have to “step over needles, human waste,” and deal with people exhibiting “psychotic behavior” on their way to school due to the homeless crisis in California.

Dr. Phil explained how a recent piece of local legislation to address the dangerous homeless tent cities has caused outrage among activists. 

“At a recent Los Angeles city council meeting, members voted to prohibit homeless people from setting up tents within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers,” Dr. Phil summarized. “Protesters at one point shut down the meeting, angered by new restrictions that will expand the number of locations where sleeping and camping are prohibited.”

L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a Democrat, defended the vote.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino of L.A.’s 15th district talks about the crisis of homeless camps in California.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino of L.A.’s 15th district talks about the crisis of homeless camps in California.

NYC HOMELESS MAN INDICTED FOR ALLEGEDLY BEATING WOMAN IN SUBWAY STATION, IMPAIRING HER VISION IN ONE EYE

“No child in America should be afraid to walk to school, and what we have found in Los Angeles [is] kids are afraid to walk to school,” he warned. “They tell their parents they have to step over needles, human waste, and deal with individuals unfortunately suffering from psychotic behavior – right next to their playground area.”

Buscaino went out of his way to say this is not about bigotry against homeless people, but recognizing the need to protect certain vulnerable public spaces in society. 

“So, I’m saying again, it’s not a crime to be homeless, but these are sensitive spaces we have to protect, the most sensitive spaces among us. Playgrounds, beaches, libraries, parks – and have some accountability for those who are in these spaces,” he said. 

Dr. Phil also spoke to TikTok star Franky Bernstein, who has made multiple videos chronicling his encounters with homeless crime in Venice, California. 

In this file photo, tents housing homeless line a street in downtown Los Angeles.The Los Angeles City Council has voted to ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers. The council voted Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, to broaden an existing ban on sleeping or camping near the facilities. 

In this file photo, tents housing homeless line a street in downtown Los Angeles.The Los Angeles City Council has voted to ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers. The council voted Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, to broaden an existing ban on sleeping or camping near the facilities. 
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

MAN WHO FATALLY STABBED NYC EMS WORKER ARRESTED

Bernstein’s TikTok videos ranged from him describing an encounter with a “homeless guy with a shotgun,” noting that “it took the cops 30 minutes to show up, which is insane,” to his confrontation with a “homeless man with a club” trying to break into his neighbor’s house, after which the homeless man allegedly attempted to break into another home “three doors down.”

Dr. Phil praised Bernstein for not just recording the problem, but for using his own time to take part in actually solving it.

Bernstein said, “I’ve dealt with my own fair share of addiction and mental health problems, just like I’m sure everybody in this room has, or a family member, so I totally get it.”

He said that the homeless crisis is more a matter of will for the American public than a matter of money, claiming, “One of the main problems as a civilian is that most people don’t do anything.”

Workers with Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors City keep an eye out homeless pack up their encampments on the beach in Venice on July 30, 2021. 

Workers with Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors City keep an eye out homeless pack up their encampments on the beach in Venice on July 30, 2021. 
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

He added, “We could have all the money in the world to solve this problem, but if we don’t have enough people showing up to volunteer, it’s not really going to work.”

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Elsewhere in the episode, Dr. Phil dropped some alarming stats about homelessness in California, such as the claim that the state has “more than half of all unsheltered homeless people in the United States, and the highest number of homeless encampments.” 

He also warned that “this problem is not going away, it seems to be growing, if anything, I think maybe inflation is making it even worse.”

The Senate is on track to pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage on the federal level this week, notching a significant bipartisan victory in the lame-duck session following months of negotiations on Capitol Hill.

Senators are scheduled to invoke cloture on the Respect for Marriage Act on Monday, which would end debate and put the bill on the path to final passage.

On the House side, Democrats are set to huddle this week to elect leaders for the 118th Congress after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her two lieutenants announced that they would not seek the top three roles next year.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will continue trying to shore up support for his bid to replace Pelosi as speaker when Republicans take control in January.

And on Thursday, a House committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the collapse of crypto exchange FTX.

Senate on track to pass marriage equality bill

The Senate is on course to pass the Respect for Marriage Act this week, capping off months of negotiations that began after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas this summer called for the reversal of the ruling that enshrined LGBTQ rights.

The chamber is scheduled to hold a vote to invoke cloture on the bill at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, which would end debate on the measure. If the procedural vote passes, which is likely, the legislation could come to the floor for final passage as early as Wednesday or Thursday.

A bipartisan group of senators announced an agreement on the Respect for Marriage Act on Nov. 14, rolling out an amendment that outlines protections for religious liberties, in order to secure enough GOP votes. The amendment would protect nonprofit religious organizations from providing services that support same-sex marriage, and it would safeguard religious liberty and conscience protections under federal law and the Constitution.

The chamber advanced the bill that week in a bipartisan 62-37 vote. Twelve Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the measure, which is enough to overcome a legislative filibuster.

Once the bill passes the Senate, however, it will have to go back to the House for final approval after Senators added the religious liberty amendment. The lower chamber cleared the measure in a bipartisan 267-157 vote in July, with 47 Republicans voting “yes” with all Democrats.

If the Senate approves the bill and sends it back to the House, the lower chamber will likely clear the measure and deliver it to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

House Democrats to vote on leadership

House Democrats are holding leadership elections on Wednesday and Thursday where they are expected to instill a new top brass after Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) announced that they would not seek the three highest positions in the next Congress, paving the way for a new generation of Democrats to take on the reins of the caucus.

Democrats will first vote for caucus chair, which Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) is running for unopposed. The California Democrat, who currently serves as vice chair of the Democratic caucus, announced his bid for the third-ranking role earlier this month.

Aguilar’s path to the position cleared after Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) dropped out of the race to instead run for chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) — a new position that the party is expected to create as part of its internal rules changes for the next Congress. He is currently one of four DPCC co-chairs.

Aguilar, who was initially eyeing the assistant leader position, decided to run for caucus chair after Clyburn announced his intent to remain in leadership as assistant leader. The South Carolina Democrat remains unopposed.

The shuffling of candidacies also came with a restructuring of the caucus’ top brass. When Democrats were last in the minority, the assistant leader role was the No. 3 position and caucus chair was No. 4, but in the next Congress, those two will be flipped.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the current chair of the Democratic Caucus, is running unopposed for House Democratic leader, putting him in line to replace Pelosi at the top of the caucus.

If Jeffries is elected to the top spot in the caucus, he would be the first Black leader in either party and either chamber in the history of Congress.

Behind Jeffries, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), the current assistant speaker, is running unopposed to be Democratic whip in the next Congress, which would make her the second-ranking lawmaker in the caucus.

This week’s elections will mark the first Democratic leadership shakeup in nearly two decades. When announcing her decision to step aside from leadership in the next Congress, Pelosi said the time had come for a “new generation” of leadership to take form.

McCarthy searches for Speakership support

In the House Republican conference, McCarthy this week will continue working to shore up support in his pursuit of the Speaker’s gavel. The current minority leader announced his candidacy for Speaker one day after the midterms, when it was still unclear which party would hold the majority next year.

Republicans are currently projected to control 220 seats in the House next year, giving them control of the chamber in the 118th Congress. Democrats are projected to hold 213 seats, and two races remain uncalled.

With that slim margin, McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of GOP votes and still win the Speakership.

He won the conference’s nomination for Speaker in a 188 to 31 vote, staving off a challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Five lawmakers voted for other candidates.

McCarthy will need to secure a majority of all House members who cast a vote for a Speaker candidate when his nomination comes to the floor next month. Around five Republicans have already signaled that they will not support him at that time.

House committee to hold hearing into FTX collapse

The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Thursday examining the collapse of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that declared bankruptcy earlier this month.

FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11 after disclosing that it lost billions of dollars in user deposits by making high-risk bets through its affiliated trading firm, Alameda Research. The company’s chief executive, Sam Bankman-Fried, resigned.

The cryptocurrency exchange was valued at $32 billion at one point. Investors are now facing as much as $8 billion in losses, and the price of bitcoin and other digital assets fell in the aftermath of the bankruptcy.

In a statement announcing the hearing, the House Financial Services Committee said it “expects to hear from the companies and individuals involved,” including FTX, Bankman-Fried and Alameda Research, among others.

Rostin Behnam, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is also scheduled to testify.

Last week, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice calling for a criminal investigation looking into the “fraudulent tactics” of Bankman-Fried.

This year’s White House holiday decor is taking a cue from the Constitution, decking the halls with the theme, “We the People.” 

Jill Biden unveiled the theme for the annual decorating tradition on Monday, saying in a statement that her hope for the White House’s seasonal makeover was to “capture the spirit embodied in the very idea of America.”

“During your visit to the People’s House, through rooms full of history and holiday decor, in the mirrored ornaments and reflective lights, our hope is that you feel at home and find yourself in the great story of America,” the first lady said.

“As our country gathers for the holidays, traditions may vary, but our shared American values — a belief in possibility, optimism, and unity — endure season after season,” she added.

In a media preview on Monday, the White House gave a first glimpse at its holiday transformation.

A tree that first greets visitors at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. honors Gold Star families, with ornaments inscribed with the names of fallen service members. Biden, who launched her Joining Forces initiative with former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2011, is poised to welcome National Guard leaders and families at the White House on Monday.

Another area of the White House, the Vermeil Room, features cameos by the Bidens’s pets, with illustrations of dog Commander and cat Willow on display. The drawings, the White House said, are meant to remind “us of the gift of unconditional love.”

The gingerbread house in the State Dining Room is joined by a sweet sidekick this year: a sugar cookie replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The massive confection includes 20 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 30 sheets of gingerbread dough, 100 pounds of pastillage, 30 pounds of chocolate and 40 pounds of royal icing, according to the White House.

The White House also announced a “new addition” to its collection this year: a menorah constructed from wood that was removed around 1950 in a renovation during President Truman’s administration. The menorah, located in the Cross Hall of the White House, was created by the Executive Residence Carpentry Shop. 

This year’s decor includes more than 83,600 holiday lights, 25 wreaths and 77 Christmas trees.

More than 150 volunteers helped to decorate the White House this year in anticipation of the 50,000 visitors expected to pass through during the holiday season.

Actor Will Smith said he would “completely understand” if movie watchers are not “ready” to see his new film, “Emancipation,” after he slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars earlier this year.

“Emancipation” is the first new Smith movie to be released since he slapped Rock in the face in March. Smith had slapped Rock in response to a joke the comedian made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

Since the incident, Smith has apologized multiple times and resigned as a member of the Academy.

The actor said in a recent interview with FOX 5 DC reporter Kevin McCarthy that he would understand if people are not ready to view his film because of his slap at the Oscars.

JIMMY KIMMEL TAPPED TO HOST THE 2023 OSCARS: ‘EVERYONE GOOD SAID NO’

Actor Will Smith said he “completely understands” if movie watchers are not ready to watch his new film, “Emancipation” because of the infamous Oscars slap.

“I completely understand that, if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” Smith told McCarthy. “My deepest concern is my team – [director Antoine Fuqua] has done what I think is the greatest work of his entire career.”

He explained that his team has done “some of the best work of their entire careers” and that his “deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team.”

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. 

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. 
(Chris Pizzello)

“I’m hoping that the material – the power of the film, the timeliness of the story – I’m hoping that the good that can be done would open people’s hearts at a minimum to see and recognize and support the incredible artists in and around this film,” Smith said.

In “Emancipation,” Smith plays a slave named Peter who flees a plantation in Louisiana. 

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
(AP Photo/John Locher)

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Smith, who won the Best Actor Oscar for “King Richard” shortly after slapping Rock, is in contention for another nomination for his role in “Emancipation.” If the actor does receive a nomination, he will not be able to attend the ceremony.

Democrats just spent two harrowing years navigating one of the tiniest majorities in House history. Now it’s the GOP’s turn — and things could get even worse.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his team are set to take over in January with the kind of margins that vexed Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but lacking the two decades of experience she brought to the task.

And the House GOP will have to steer legislation through with as few as four votes to spare while its leaders deal with an emboldened Freedom Caucus, internal finger-pointing over a disappointing midterm cycle, and a looming brawl over a 2024 presidential primary that features Donald Trump back in the mix.

“I don’t lie awake at night worrying about the bad legislation they are going to pass. Because I don’t think they’re going to pass it,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Awaiting the outcome of just one true toss-up race, Republicans will have a majority of either four or five — giving McCarthy the sparest of margins of any other Congress at the start of its term since 1931. Not to mention that he’s already vowed to do away with Pelosi-era proxy voting, making every potential absence a new challenge.

That means governing will be a 24/7 obstacle course for House Republicans who are already facing big questions about their agenda next year, from abortion policy to Ukraine aid to impeaching President Joe Biden and some Cabinet members. As Democrats prepare their retreat into the minority, many are less-than-fondly recalling their own two years of vote-wrangling and floor delays while wishing their GOP colleagues luck.

“It was wonderful,” quipped Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a member of Pelosi’s whip team who remembered countless after-midnight phone calls this Congress to lock down votes for many of his party’s huge bills. “That was a regular routine, as a matter of fact.”

Democrats say if there’s anything they learned over the past two years, when they, too, navigated a historically minuscule majority, it’s just how fragile those numbers can be. While Pelosi and her caucus started out with a 10-seat margin in January 2021, it was whittled down to as few as three votes during those two years.

Some Democrats said they’re unconvinced the GOP conference can exhibit the same exacting discipline that it took their party to pass everything from a policing package to Pentagon funding to even their own Democratic budget. Thanks to Pelosi, her party ultimately passed several huge bills, including President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar health, tax and climate package, with less than a handful of votes to spare.

“They’re going to be fraught with fractures and friction and challenges and apostates. I wish them well in trying to manage that crowd,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).

And Connolly, who served in the minority under previous GOP leadership struggles, cautioned that McCarthy could have even more problems managing the conference over the next two years than his most recent predecessors, both of whom struggled with Freedom Caucus rebellions: “Paul Ryan and John Boehner both had a bigger majority, and they couldn’t exercise control.”

Both of those previous speakers struggled at times to even pass bills through their chamber. Then-Speaker John Boehner, for instance, watched his own party’s 2013 farm bill fail spectacularly on the floor, and often had to rely on Democrats to pass spending bills. Years later, former Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to withdraw the GOP’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act after a revolt from the center. And Ryan oversaw three government shutdowns during his relatively brief four-year tenure in the speakership.

McCarthy’s margin is smaller than either of those two faced. Further complicating his math problem, Republicans have pledged to do away with the cushion of pandemic-related proxy voting, which gave Pelosi critical breathing room when Democrats weren’t able to vote in person for any number of reasons.

Sometimes it was a coronavirus infection, a natural disaster in the district or a family emergency back home. Other times it was an out-of-state fundraiser or a family vacation. Regardless, Pelosi and her whip team could ensure those members would still vote — guaranteeing they had the numbers to pass their priorities despite any individual crises.

While Republicans say McCarthy will undoubtedly stick to his vow to ban proxy voting — which they’ve used to accuse Democrats of not showing up to work — privately some GOP lawmakers acknowledge they’re worried about their small margins, given that there’s bound to be at least a few absences from each floor vote.

And there’s always the possibility that the Republican majority could grow even slimmer. Democrats, for instance, had six members resign during the current Congress for jobs elsewhere, including the White House. Republicans had four members resign — including one who was convicted of campaign-related felonies. In all, six members died: five Republicans and one Democrat.

The timing of a House member’s replacement can vary dramatically from one state to the next, which at times has complicated Democrats’ legislative plans in the current Congress.

Special elections can occur within as little as a few months or take closer to a year. For example, the successor to Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who died in office in April 2021, wasn’t sworn in until January 2022.

McCarthy, meanwhile, appears likely to start the coming year with a majority margin roughly half the size of what Democrats started with two years ago.

It’s not clear exactly when the final two House races will be decided — one in California’s Central Valley and one in western Colorado. GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’s opponent has already called her to concede the Colorado race.

The other uncalled seat remains a true toss-up, though GOP candidate John Duarte retains a lead of about 600 votes over his Democratic opponent, Adam Gray.

But whether it’s a four- or five-seat majority, House Rules Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said Republicans would need to make plans to compromise either way — maybe even with Democrats.

And while Democrats’ reluctant members were willing to come to the bargaining table, he insisted GOP members wouldn’t take the same approach: “They just say no to everything and they’re more interested in getting more Twitter followers than they are in legislating.”

Ally Mutnick and Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.

Coming into the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was knowingly playing through a broken thumb that he said earlier in the week wouldn’t stop him from being out on the field. 

What the Packers didn’t anticipate was Rodgers leaving the game early in the 40-33 loss with a rib injury, something that could keep him out in the coming weeks. 

It’s not a definite, and telling from Rodgers’ press conference after the game, he wants to be back out on the field next week against the Chicago Bears. 

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked by Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked by Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

“As long as I check out fine tomorrow, I’ll expect to play this weekend,” he told reporters. “I might not be able to go Wednesday, but as long as there’s no major structural damage, I’ll go back out there.”

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Rodgers explained that it was a mixture of a clear shot to the ribs and landing on them on separate plays, one in the second quarter and once again in the third.

“Just having a hard time breathing and rotating my upper body,” Rodgers said. “I was worried about a punctured lung as well, so wanted to get that checked out.”

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Luckily, the lung is fine, but Rodgers admitted the initial tests couldn’t show definitively that his ribs aren’t broken. More tests will be done on Monday to make sure the diagnosis is correct for the back-to-back NFL MVP.

At 4-8 now on the season, there’s also speculation on whether Rodgers wants to continue playing with playoff hopes dwindling with each loss. He even said the team might have to win their next five games and still need some help elsewhere around the league just to make a wild card berth. 

But, as long as there’s hope, the 38-year-old signal caller wishes to be under center. 

Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles sacks Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles sacks Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

“I don’t really want to take my mind there, but as long as we’re mathematically alive, I’d like to be out there,” he said.

Head coach Matt LaFleur added that Rodgers apologized to him because he couldn’t keep going in the game, but he didn’t want to hear it. 

“This is one of the toughest dudes I’ve ever been around. I don’t ever question his toughness.”

PACKERS’ JORDAN LOVE THROWS TD PASS TO CHRISTIAN WATSON ON FIRST DRIVE AFTER AARON RODGERS LEAVES WITH INJURY

But LaFleur also didn’t want to speculate about his quarterback situation next week and moving forward, as Jordan Love could get his first start since Week 9 of the 2021 season – the only start of his career that began as the 26th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.

“If Aaron is healthy and ready to go, I expect him out there,” LaFleur said. 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Philadelphia.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Philadelphia.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

When Love entered the game in the fourth quarter for Rodgers, he quickly found budding star Christian Watson for a 63-yard catch-and-run. He would finish the game 6-of-9 for 113 yards with that touchdown pass. 

“I’m not shocked that he went out there and played well and had great poised. We see this on a daily basis. People might not necessarily agree with that, but I see it every day,” LaFleur said of Love. 

Rodgers also said he was “proud” of what Love accomplished. 

PACKERS’ AARON RODGERS ADMITS PLAYING THROUGH BROKEN THUMB SINCE WEEK 5

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Philadelphia.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Philadelphia.
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

As for his thumb injury, Rodgers said that it felt better this week than it did last week, so that seems to be progressing as he continues to play through it. 

But the Packers mind has shifted to the latest, more serious Rodgers ailment that may sideline him even if he doesn’t wish to be. 

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He finished with 140 yards on 11 for 16 with two touchdown passes and two interceptions thrown in the loss. 

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People experience stress for various reasons. It is caused by a change in the environment, such as moving to a new city, starting a new job, or getting married. Stress can also be caused by internal changes, like having surgery, becoming ill, or suffering from an injury that requires physical therapy. Relationships with friends and family members also cause stress when you argue or have a falling out.

Stress episodes happen when demands placed on us exceed our resources for coping, and the holiday season can often feel like one of those times, with its increased financial burdens and calendar commitments. It is not unusual to have brief periods when we feel stressed out or overwhelmed during this season. 

Stress becomes a problem when we can’t cope with life’s demands and experience prolonged bouts of it, so we need to incorporate some habits in our lives to help us reduce stress.

Dr. Phil McGraw says we need to incorporate some habits in our lives to help us reduce stress.

Dr. Phil McGraw says we need to incorporate some habits in our lives to help us reduce stress.
(Getty)

Here are several effective ways to incorporate stress relief into our daily routines: 

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Meditation: This is an exercise in which a person clears their mind of all thoughts, focuses solely on their breathing, and lets peace surround them. Meditate on the love of God and invite God into your peaceful place.

Deep Breathing: Deep breathing helps reduce stress because you are taking in more oxygen than usual. Breathing increases blood flow and relieves stress. 

Reading: The best stress-relieving book is, you guessed it, the BIBLE. It teaches you to be more mindful of God’s promises and how to let go of negative thoughts. 

Watching a comedy show or movie: We all know stress causes us to feel down, so why not watch something that will lift your spirits. A good comedy show is perfect for this. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine,” Proverbs 17:22 (NLT).

Talking to friends/family: One of the best ways to relieve stress is talking with people who care about you. Stress relief is essential, and talking to friends/family helps more than you think it would. Most people deal with stress every day but don’t give stress the credit it deserves because they take it for granted, and they often forget about the Scriptures that can help them in stressful times.

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In Philippians 4:6, the Scriptures tell us that God gives us the strength to deal with anything we may encounter in life. As you read Scriptures and learn how to convert negative emotions into positive ones, you can become more peaceful. If you control your negative emotions and reactions to stress, then you can deal more effectively with the challenges you face in your life. 

Dr. Phil offers a number of Bible verses that can be helpful in times of stress.

Dr. Phil offers a number of Bible verses that can be helpful in times of stress.
(Reuters)

Here are a couple of verses that have been particularly helpful for me:

Isaiah 26:3 – Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 

Psalm 118:7-8 – The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

A great exercise is to write out your favorite Scriptures that give you hope and remind you of God’s love for you. Write about the times when you were weak, but your faith allowed you to overcome something you didn’t think you could. Remember Luke 11:9-10, And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

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“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

A great exercise is to write out your favorite Scriptures that give you hope and remind you of God's love for you, writes Dr. Phil.

A great exercise is to write out your favorite Scriptures that give you hope and remind you of God’s love for you, writes Dr. Phil.
(Reuters)

Stressors can’t be avoided; but it is possible to manage stress more effectively so that it doesn’t negatively influence your health. Stress is a silent killer because it often gets to us more than we care to admit. Don’t ignore stress just because you don’t see it coming or feel it happening at the moment. Trust me; stress is there! 

Did you know stress affects our health more than many well-known diseases like cancer? Stress begins as an emotional strain that develops into a physical one if left untreated. If stress goes unaddressed for too long, it can change ordinary emotions into extreme ones such as anxiety, anger, or depression.  

Here’s a suggested Scripture passage that I found is helpful for meditating on in order to reduce stress:

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

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And here’s a suggested prayer to invite God to help you reduce the impact of stress in your life:

“Dear God, I choose to believe in the truth of God’s word from Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Whenever I focus on you, I can do anything. Thank you for your steadfast love and keeping me comforted in stressful times. Thank you for always being by my side whenever I’m anxious or depressed. Thank you for being my comfort and my strength. 

“Thinking of you, and reading your word gives me comfort every day. I will trust in you and your plan for my life, for you have my entire life mapped out. I pray for your will to be done in my life and in this world. I pray you give me peace with whatever your plan is. In Jesus’s name, Amen.”

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It means downright deceitful. Manipulating. Misleading. Merriam-Webster has named its word of 2022 – “gaslighting.”

The official definition for “gaslighting,” according to Merriam-Webster, is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”

Merriam-Webster said searches for the definition of the word on its website was up 1,740% in 2022 over the year before.

FILE – “Gaslighting” has been named Merriam-Webester’s word of 2022.
(Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

In a world full of deepfakes, the dark web and fake news, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large Peter Sokolowski said he was surprised that there was not a single event that drove significant spikes in the curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.

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“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

FILE - Merriam-Webster says it picks its words of the year based on data.

FILE – Merriam-Webster says it picks its words of the year based on data.

The word was brought to life more than 80 years ago with “Gas Light,” a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.

The term gaslighting was later used by mental health practitioners to clinically describe a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships.

Merriam-Webster chooses its word of the year based on data. 

‘PANDEMIC’ NAMED MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S 2020 WORD OF THE YEAR

FILE- Lookups for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740% in 2022 over the year before.

FILE- Lookups for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740% in 2022 over the year before.
(iStock)

Sokolowski told The Associated Press that “gaslighting” spent all of 2022 in the top 50 words looked up on merriam-webster.com.

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Last year, Merriam-Webster named “vaccine” as its word of the year. “Pandemic” was Merriam-Webster’s word of the year in 2020.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

There was a time in her life when Elizabeth Groff, born in Ukraine, felt completely absent of hope and love.

Living in an orphanage with no family at all, she felt forgotten and alone.

But a single yet significant act of giving at Christmastime — involving a shoebox full of toys, sent and distributed by people who didn’t even know her — sparked a light in the darkness of her young life.

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“There was nothing I had to prove to receive this shoebox gift, nothing I had to do to earn it,” she told Fox News Digital in an email about her life. 

“Through this act of unconditional love, I was washed suddenly in a bright hope,” she said. 

As a child, Elizabeth Groff lived in an orphanage in Ukraine — and was adopted at age 13 by an American family and taken to the U.S. Today she helps other needy children by giving out gifts through Operation Christmas Child during holiday time.

As a child, Elizabeth Groff lived in an orphanage in Ukraine — and was adopted at age 13 by an American family and taken to the U.S. Today she helps other needy children by giving out gifts through Operation Christmas Child during holiday time.
(Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child)

“God wasn’t going to abandon me,” she added, sharing her deep faith. “He was meeting me right there at rock bottom.”

Groff, 28 years old today and a 2017 graduate of Virginia Tech University, is reaching out to others in need during this holiday season and letting them know, too, that they are not alone — and that others care.

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As people all over the world prepare to make or buy presents for their loved ones this year, Samaritan’s Purse, the evangelical Christian humanitarian aid group, is anticipating a significant marker of giving and generosity toward other human beings.

It will collect and distribute its 200 millionth Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift in December 2022 — and Elizabeth Groff herself will be the one to hand it out to a child in need.

“I’m so grateful for Elizabeth’s adoptive parents, and every other father and mother who has welcomed a child into their family to love and care for them.” — Rev. Franklin Graham

Said Groff to Fox News Digital, “At 11 years old, God planted a seed of hope in my life through the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. [And] at 13 years old, God blessed me with a family who adopted me and continues to show me the unconditional love of Jesus Christ through how they love me,” she added.

Elizabeth Groff herself will hand out the 200 millionth shoebox from Operation Christmas Child this year — offering hope to a needy child. She shared her thoughts on giving with Fox News Digital. 

Elizabeth Groff herself will hand out the 200 millionth shoebox from Operation Christmas Child this year — offering hope to a needy child. She shared her thoughts on giving with Fox News Digital. 
(Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child)

“God used that shoebox to tell me, ‘You are not an orphan. You are my daughter.’ The shoebox gift opened my heart to God and he began to nurture my heart, gradually replacing my feelings of abandonment with hope and tenderness.”

Rev. Franklin Graham, CEO and president of the North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse, told Fox News Digital, “I’m so grateful for Elizabeth’s adoptive parents, and every other father and mother who has welcomed a child into their family to love and care for them.”

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He added, “With an adopted grandson, I know firsthand what an incredible blessing adoption can be, not only to the child, but to the parents and extended family.”

Rev. Franklin Graham said about adoption, “This kind of love is one of the greatest pictures that we have of what God has done for us.”
(Samaritan’s Purse)

He said as well, “This kind of love is one of the greatest pictures that we have of what God has done for us. The Word of God tells us that when we put our faith and trust in God’s son Jesus Christ, we are adopted into his family!” 

He added, “God created adoption — and all those who choose to welcome children into their homes and families like he welcomes us deserve our deepest gratitude.”

Elizabeth Groff lived in an orphanage in Ukraine — then was adopted by an American family. Today she is giving out gifts through Operation Christmas Child, just as she herself received a similar shoebox of gifts years ago.

Elizabeth Groff lived in an orphanage in Ukraine — then was adopted by an American family. Today she is giving out gifts through Operation Christmas Child, just as she herself received a similar shoebox of gifts years ago.
(Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child)

Said Groff of how a simple box of items changed her life so many years ago, A shoebox gift opened my heart to God’s Word, a family around the world welcomed me home and a Christ-centered community rallied around me when devastation struck when the war broke out in Ukraine.”

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She said she now has “the chance to show the unconditional love that I have been given to my sister and nephew as well as children around the world through the ministry of Operation Christmas Child.”

Of the gift of adoption, she also said, “I could not have done any of this without my adoptive parents saying ‘yes’ to God’s call to adopt me. What a faithful God we serve!”

She shared more particulars of her adoption journey — and how she came to live in America and grow up with a family who loved her.

“Once I was placed into the orphanage [in Ukraine], I joined the orphanage choir. The choir had the opportunity to travel to the U.S. for two weeks. I was about 11 years old at this time,” she said.

Elizabeth Groff spent years in an orphanage in Ukraine. Eventually she was adopted by an American family in Virginia. Today she's giving back to others, as she herself was given to many years ago during the Christmas season.

Elizabeth Groff spent years in an orphanage in Ukraine. Eventually she was adopted by an American family in Virginia. Today she’s giving back to others, as she herself was given to many years ago during the Christmas season.
(Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child)

She went on, “During my time in the U.S., I was hosted by a family in Williamsburg, Virginia. On my last few days with them, my host family was driving me back to their house from one of my choir events and we decided to stop for lunch.”

On the way to the lunch, however, she said she fell asleep in the backseat of the car.

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“My host father decided to stay in the car with me to let me sleep while the rest of the host family went to grab lunch,” she said. “As he was sitting in the front seat, he turned around to check on me and he heard God say to him, ‘She is your daughter.’” 

Added Groff, “My host father could not believe that God was calling him back to Ukraine. At this time they had one biological daughter — and three years prior to hosting me, they adopted a little girl from Ukraine and the process was very difficult. They had no plans to return to Ukraine, but God had other plans.”

 “I couldn’t believe that I was finally getting my own family.”

And so, “on my last day in the U.S.,” she said, “the entire host family sat me down and asked me if I wanted to be adopted — and of course my response was shouting ‘YES!’ I was so excited. I couldn’t believe that I was finally getting my own family.”

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After all these years, however, Groff has not forgotten the shiny yo-yo that she received as a child when she was living in an orphanage. 

Someone had packed it for her inside the Christmas shoebox she received. 

Operation Christmas Child in action — with shoeboxes full of gifts packed for needy children all over the world. 

Operation Christmas Child in action — with shoeboxes full of gifts packed for needy children all over the world. 
(Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child)

That simple toy — and the much larger gesture of giving and caring — changed her forever and is why she’s active in giving to others today, she said. 

Recently, Groff has been traveling across the country to pack and prepare gift boxes for others; she’s been to Denver, Chicago, Nashville, and Charlotte, North Carolina. 

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She’s preparing now to hand-deliver the 200 millionth shoebox to a Ukrainian child impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war.

To learn more, watch the video at the top of this article, or click here to see it.

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