JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a year unlike any other.
The coronavirus pandemic changing the everyday basics about life and shook up the sports calendar like nothing before. We lost legends, both coaching and athletes. Seasons started and stopped. The Olympics were postponed. We take a look at 20 unforgettable sports moments from 2020.
A tragic start to the year. NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on a foggy afternoon. Bryant, 41, was a star with the Lakers for 20 seasons and his post-playing career had the makings of becoming an international entertainment icon.
Former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli makes the cut from 15 to 10 but doesn’t make it from 10 to the final five needed for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was thought to be Boselli’s best shot during his four finalist opportunities of making the hall. Another local, former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, was also a finalist but didn’t make it.
Corky Rogers, the most iconic football coach in state history, died after battling health problems for years. Rogers, the former coach at Lee and Bolles, was 76. Rogers won 465 games, a mark that ranks in the top 7 in national history. His 10 state titles at Bolles are a state record and he’s enshrined in six halls of fame.
The Bartram Trail girls soccer team routs Cypress Bay 5-0 to win the Class 7A state championship, the first in program history. That capped an unprecedented week for area girls teams. Five qualified for state title games and four of them brought home titles. Bishop Kenny (Class 4A), Bolles (Class 3A) and St. Johns Country Day (Class 2A) also won titles.
The NBA is the first major sports league in the country to halt its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league considered playing in front of no fans but pulled the plug after Utah Jazz player Rody Gobert tested positive for the virus. It triggers a wave of postponements and cancellations through the year, including Major League Baseball’s delayed start and a pause in the National Hockey League.
March Madness was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, with the NCAA scrapping the most lucrative event in college sports. The NCAA canceled championships in every spring sport, including hockey, baseball and lacrosse. That wasn’t the only big news of the day. Hours after announcing The Players Championship would play its final three rounds without fans, the tournament was canceled late Thursday night. During a morning press conference a day later, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan called the decision to cancel the event “gut-wrenching.” The first round was played as usual, with Hideki Matsuyama shooting a 9-under 63 to lead. But dominoes began falling throughout day. By that night, The Players was canceled.
One year after signing him to a massive contract the Jaguars deal quarterback Nick Foles to the Bears. Foles never fit in Jacksonville’s offense. He suffered a broken collarbone in the 2019 opener and was benched when he returned from injury for rookie Gardner Minshew. It was one of numerous offseason roster moves for the Jaguars, including the trades of Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, and the release of former first-round pick Leonard Fournette.
Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, leaves the only NFL franchise that he’s played with and signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Olympics become the biggest sporting event to be affected by the global pandemic when the International Olympic Committee postponed the Tokyo games until 2021.
The spring sports season in Florida came to a end when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that all schools in the state would continue distance learning through the remainder of the academic year. The Florida High School Athletic Association made it official two days later that sports were off done. Georgia made that same decision on April 2.
The NFL draft goes virtual and the Jaguars take a pair of defenders in the first round. With the No. 9 pick, Jacksonville takes Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson. At No. 20, Jacksonville drafts LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson.
Members of the Jaguars marched from TIAA Bank Field to the steps of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in support of Black Lives Matter and to speak up for equality and criminal justice reform. It comes during a summer of awakening in the wake of high profile deaths of Black men and women like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Receiver Chris Conley’s emotional speech goes viral.
For the first time since 1969, there would be no professional baseball in Jacksonville. The Jumbo Shrimp’s 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jumbo Shrimp still managed to keep fans coming to 121 Financial Ballpark, hosting various events like socially distanced movie nights and fireworks for those in the area.
After initially holding the line on when to start the sports season, the Florida High School Athletic Association backtracked and decided to push the start of the fall sports season back to Aug. 24. That reversal came just three days after the FHSAA voted to keep the calendar unchanged with a July 27 start date. That decision drew widespread backlash.
The FHSAA voted to start the high school sports season on Aug. 24 but allow individual school districts the option to either opt into the state playoff series or opt out and play a longer season. The vote ended months of tense back and forth between the association, coaches, school districts and parents.
Players from six NBA teams elected to not play in postseason games in a protest against racial injustice. Major League Baseball, WNBA and Major League Soccer were also called off as athletes used their platforms to say that they wanted change.
The Jaguars, mired in a 10-game losing streak, fire general manager Dave Caldwell in the first of what is expected to be a franchise reset. Owner Shad Khan said the Jaguars need “new leadership.” In nearly eight seasons, Caldwell had a mark of 37-86 in the regular season and just one year above .500.
They didn’t have a baseball season, but the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp get very good news when the Miami Marlins extend them an invitation to become a Triple A franchise. The Jumbo Shrimp had played as a Double A affiliate in the Southern League since 1970.
Trinity Christian erased a 16-0 halftime deficit and scored three times in the fourth quarter to stun Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 25-22 to win the Class 3A state championship game in Tallahassee. It marked the eighth state title for Trinity, all of them under longtime coach Verlon Dorminey.
The Jaguars lose their 13th consecutive game in a 40-14 blowout to the Ravens. It tied the mark for the longest in franchise history, set over the 2012-13 seasons. At 1-13, Jacksonville gets a bit of luck later that day when the Jets upset the Rams. That outcome moved the Jaguars to the No. 1 spot in next year’s draft.