2019 gave the sports world some new champions along with some familiar champions.
The first title of the calendar year went to a very familiar titleholder. Yes, the New England Patriots won the 2019 Super Bowl (again). Much to the chagrin of many, it seems, the Pats dynasty continued on as they won Super Bowl LIII 13-3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
That makes six Super Bowls that Pats quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick have won together, extending their record for the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.
The Patriots are also tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl victories in NFL history.
One year removed from being the first No. 1 seed to lose a first round NCAA Tournament game to a No. 16 seed, Virginia rebounded by capturing the 2019 NCAA Basketball Championship. The Cavaliers redeemed themselves by defeating Texas Tech in the Finals.
A few weeks later, Tiger Wood turned back the clock and won the 2019 Masters. The victory was his first major win in 11 years and his first Masters win since 2005. Tiger has now won five Masters titles and later in the year captured his 82nd PGA Tour Title. He is now tied with the great Sam Snead, who won 82 tourneys in his 50+ year career. The 2019 season for Tiger completed his comeback, an endeavor that included career-threatening back problems, career-saving spinal fusion surgery and a tumultuous series of personal problems.
We had a few new champions in 2019.
The St. Louis Blues won their first ever Stanley Cup title. It took the Blues 52 years to capture the Cup and it was a few months after they had the worst record in the NHL. A true worst to first story. No NHL franchise has ever had to wait that long to raise the Stanley Cup.
An American team won Canada’s sport (hockey) and a Canadian team, the Toronto Raptures, won the 2019 NBA Championship. Toronto gave Canada its first NBA championship when they easily handled the Golden State Warriors. The Raptors deflated what would’ve been a three-peat for the Warriors, who were coming off back-to-back titles. Kawhi Leonard, the All-Star forward Toronto acquired last summer from San Antonio, was named Finals MVP for the second time.
In another first, the Washington Nationals won their first World Series. It was a Game 7 win as the Nats defeated the heavily favored Houston Astros, 6-2, in the deciding game.
The Carolina Panthers unveiled their new head coach earlier this week when they tabbed Matt Rhule to lead the way for the foreseeable future.
Media pundits and fans wondered if new owner David Tepper would go with a proven veteran as his first hire or go with the current trend of hiring a young college coach with a reputation of putting points on the board.
Tepper obviously went the college route.
Rhule comes to the Panthers from Baylor. His stock has risen extremely fast and he is regarded as a program-builder. Rhule helped reinvent Baylor football following the sexual assault scandal that rocked the program with sanctions. Rhule previously was the coach of the Temple Owls, where he led the team to consecutive 10-win seasons, the first time in program history.
Rhule, 44, played college ball at Penn State as a linebacker in the 1980s. He has a single year of NFL coaching experience as an assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants in 2012. Rhule compiled a 19-23 record with Baylor, turning the program around from a one-win season in 2017 to an 11-win season in 2019. Baylor lost this year’s Sugar Bowl to Georgia.