Strange year, 2020. And a mostly bad one, of course. Despite the realities of COVID-19, athletes across all sports were still able to wow and entertain with some incredible performances, and there were even some in the early portion of the year that real live sellout crowds got to appreciate. Let’s take a look back at some of the most dominant, spectacular individual efforts from 2020. 1 of 25
By now we’ve seen it enough that it has actually become a running joke; the Chiefs spot a team a lead, then roar back with one of their patented offensive explosions. Kansas City was already feared in last year’s AFC Divisional Playoffs, but when Houston jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the January 12th clash, there was at least some thought that the Texans would finish the job. How quaint. Mahomes threw four touchdown passes in a 28-point second quarter to give the Chiefs the lead, then iced the game with a fifth touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. Final line? 321 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions. Pretty good, that guy.
The 2019 NFC Championship Game was supposed to be a battle between Aaron Rodgers and the 49ers’ defense. Instead, it turned into a party for Mostert. The San Francisco running back scored the Niners’ first four touchdowns of the game, staking them to a 27-0 halftime lead, and a 34-7 lead in the mid-third quarter. In all, Mostert finished with 220 yards on 29 carries (7.6 yards per carry) to help San Francisco cruise to the Super Bowl.
2020 was filled with truncated and disrupted seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we still saw our share of great games. These 20 games stand out as the best of the year.
Jan 1: Herbert leads Oregon to Rose Bowl win
Justin Herbert capped off his Oregon career with a terrific performance in the Rose Bowl, including a game-winning 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to beat Wisconsin 28-27. He finished the game with three rushing touchdowns in the closely contested matchup.
Jan 4: Texans beat Bills in Wild Card win
After trailing the Bills 13-0 at halftime, Houston was able to mount a comeback as the efficient Deshaun Watson threw for 247 yards and rushed for 55 yards, netting two touchdowns in a 22-19 overtime win. Josh Allen’s inconsistent play late in the game certainly helped Houston’s cause in the win.
Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Gavin Lee | Last updated 10/6/20
The New York Rangers have added another franchise talent. After selecting Kaapo Kakko with the second pick in 2019, the Rangers lucked into another lottery win this year and the right to select any draft-eligible player they want. Though names like Quinton Byfield or Tim Stuetzle may have been tempting in any other year, the team had no choice but to select the consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.
There is almost nothing that Lafreniere can’t do on an ice rink. Growing up just outside of Montreal, it didn’t take long for prospect watchers to recognize that he may be one of the next great talents to come out of the province of Quebec.
When it came time for the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, there was little doubt who would be off the board first. The Rimouski Oceanic, the same junior program that had produced Sidney Crosby more than ten years earlier, selected Lafreniere ahead of Samuel Poulin and Jakob Pelletier, both players who ended up going in the first round of the 2019 NHL draft. Lafreniere was different though, and it wouldn’t take him long to show it.
Because of his late birthday—October 11th—Lafreniere would actually make his debut for Rimouski at age-15. He recorded 11 shots on goal over his first three games but would come away with just a single assist and four penalty minutes. It wasn’t until October 1st, ten days before his 16th birthday, when he would score his first two QMJHL goals. In the games that followed, he would add 40 to that total and lead the Rimouski in both goals and points despite being several years younger than his teammates. A CHL Rookie of the Year award awaited him following the 2017-18 season, along with plenty of other individual accolades.
They wouldn’t end there.
In each of the next two seasons, Lafreniere would not only lead his team in scoring, but dominate the competition on a nightly basis. In 113 regular season games he scored 217 points, winning CHL Player of the Year in each season despite leaving his team both years to compete in the World Juniors for Canada, the youngest player since Connor McDavid to make that prestigious roster.
Conor McGregor remains one of the most popular names in UFC, but according to Dana White, the Irish brawler won’t be entering the Octagon again until at least 2021. The UFC President appeared on Barstool’s “My Mom’s Basement” podcast and made it clear that McGregor won’t be fighting for UFC in 2020.
“This year, he is retired,” White said. “He doesn’t have a fight this year, and he won’t have a fight this year. Conor McGregor will not fight in 2020. … I guarantee he will not fight in 2020.”
McGregor announced his retirement on Twitter back in June and told ESPN that he simply did not find the sport exciting anymore. If he is serious about retirement, he goes out as arguably the most popular fighter in UFC history, with a 22-4 MMA record that includes 19 knockouts. His last fight was against Donald Cerrone in January, as McGregor managed to beat him by TKO in just 40 seconds.
There is likely going to be a Major League Baseball season in 2020 with or without an agreement between the league and the MLB Players Association, and it will be up to commissioner Rob Manfred to decide how many games. MLB has been pushing for as few as 48 games in negotiations with players, but it sounds like the season is going to be longer than that.
If no agreement is reached, Jon Heyman reports that commissioner Rob Manfred will mandate a regular season that is at least 50 games.
The NFL continues to forge ahead as if nothing is amiss. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is preparing to play games in full stadiums.
NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent appeared on “The Brian Mitchell Show” Friday. During his interview, he divulged that the league is preparing for full stadiums this year, “until the medical community tells us otherwise,” via NBC Sports Washington:
“We are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise. Now remember when we’re talking — we’re talking about August, September. So there’s a lot that can happen here. So we’re planning for full stadiums.”
Major League Baseball has a long way to go before it can return in 2020, and there are clear issues that need to be sorted before it can.
Player salaries appear to be one developing issue. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, there is increasing tension between the MLB and MLBPA over whether players should have salaries reduced due to the significant loss of revenue the league is currently experiencing.
“Right now, there’s a major disagreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association over what the financial split of the pie would be, if in fact baseball comes back,” Olney said, via Katherine Acquavella of CBS Sports. “This is an increasing concern both to management officials and to agents I’ve spoke with. Agent Scott Boras has argued that the 2020 contracts should be honored.
“On the management side, they feel like given the financial hit that baseball has taken, there needs to be some salary rollbacks. There is some increasing optimism that baseball will be played this year in some form, perhaps in front of fans. However, that can’t happen unless these two sides come out of their trenches where they are right now.”
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are the latest major sporting event to be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, as the Games will not be held in July as originally scheduled.
Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today’s Christine Brennan on Monday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed. While an exact date has not been set, it will likely be some time in 2021.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know. It will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
The NHL is built on tradition. The people in charge, while open to some change, tend to take a methodical approach to cater to old-school traditionalists who do not like to see the game altered in any significant way.
Over the past 10-15 years, there have been a handful of changes to the way the game is played.
We saw the shootout introduced at the start of the 2005-06 season, the two-line pass was eliminated, and the league went to a 3-on-3 overtime. There also have been efforts to reduce head shots to make the game safer. All of these changes have had a positive impact on the sport to varying degrees.
But the league can do better.
Here are 10 ideas for the next decade to improve the on-ice product and fan-viewing experience:
Every year, the NFL world gathers in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine to talks deals and scout the next wave of NFL talent. As NFL personnel prepare for the upcoming trip for the 2020 combine, it could be the last for one of the most iconic workouts.
Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Matt Johnson | Last updated 2/19/20
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