BOSTON (CBS) — For many around the country, they can’t wait to put 2017 in their rear view mirror.
But for Boston sports fans, it’s a year worthy of remembering. The Patriots made the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history (possibly ever), the Celtics took an impressive jump in the postseason before lighting off those long-awaited fireworks, and the Red Sox and Bruins were… well they played some games too, not to mention coaching changes that many felt were years in the making.
So as we get set to say farewell to 2017, let’s take a look back at some of our favorite (and in some cases, least favorite) stories to hit the Boston sports scene over the last year:
New England Patriots
Patriots Stage The Greatest Comeback Ever
Boston sports only ended up with one title in 2017, but it was an all timer. The start of Super Bowl LI was bad for the Patriots. The end was pretty good.
We’ll let these iconic photos tell the story of New England’s incredible overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“28-3” will live forever in Boston sports lore.
Brady’s Missing Jersey
While the Patriots were celebrating their Super Bowl title on the field, some schmuck finagled his way into their locker room and stole Tom Brady’s jersey. Houston police and the FBI tried to track it down, but it was actually a 19-year-old Patriots fan and memorabilia collector from Seattle who cracked the case, turning the authorities onto uber collector Martin Mauricio Ortega. It was a pretty fascinating story filled with international intrigue. It also had a happy ending, as Brady got his Super Bowl LI and Super Bowl XLIX (yes, that one went amiss as well) jerseys back.
Brady showed off his Super Bowl LI jersey at the Red Sox home opener, and Gronk promptly tried to steal it from his quarterback while on the field at Fenway Park. What a goof.
New England’s offseason started with Bill Belichick shouting “No days off!” approximately 73 times to a sea of Patriots fans who took a day off to celebrate the team’s latest Super Bowl.
The Patriots themselves took very few days off during a wild offseason that captivated us for months. Malcolm Butler was a restricted free agent determined to get a big-money deal, but that never happened. Instead the Pats gave that money to corner Stephon Gilmore, creating quite the precarious situation with Butler. Trade rumors followed, with the New Orleans Saints the primary trade partner, and things got really interesting when the Pats and Saints swung a deal for receiver Brandin Cooks. There were rumors of a backdoor deal that would send Butler to the Big Easy come draft time, but that never happened either.
So after months of speculation, Butler signed his restricted free agent tender and continues to roam the defensive backfield for New England. Along the way, the Patriots added Gilmore, Cooks, running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, tight end Dwayne Allen and re-signed Dont’a Hightower (somehow, birthday cupcakes from the Jets wasn’t enough to pry him from New England). All in all, it was a pretty big offseason that helped the Patriots gear up for another Super Bowl run.
The Super Bowl defense took a giant hit in the preseason when Julian Edelman was lost for the season to an ACL tear in the third preseason game. He’s been missed, but the offense hasn’t really suffered too much.
Roger Goodell made his long-hullabalooed return to Foxboro — for the Patriots’ preseason finale. He quietly attended the start of the game, took a photo with three fans that ruined their Labor Day weekend, and got the heck out of town.
He returned a week later for the season opener, but in a move that would make Mark Wahlberg proud, he left before kickoff.
Banner Night Letdown
Yeah, about that season opener…
The 16-0 (and 19-0) talk came to an end quickly as the Patriots dropped their opener to the Kansas City Chiefs shortly after raising their new banner. While that undefeated talk went away, chatter of New England’s demise was back in full force. That was silly.
Jimmy Garoppolo Traded
The quarterback controversy that was supposedly ripping the Patriots apart came to an end when Bill Belichick sent Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick on October 30. That leaves no doubt that this is Tom Brady’s team until the QB retires, likely at the age of 65.
Meanwhile, Garoppolo has gone 4-0 as San Fran’s starter, helping the Patriots earn a first-round bye in the process.
Rob Gronkowski is one big lovable lug, but he lost his cool during a Week 13 matchup with the Bills in Buffalo. Upset that the zebras were giving him no love as Buffalo defenders draped themselves all over him, Gronk went all WWE on Tre’Davious White after the Bills corner hit the ground following an interception. Gronk launched himself on top of White, sending the corner’s head into the ground and into the league’s concussion protocol, earning himself a one-game suspension in the process.
Talk of Gronk being a dirty player and the Bills vowing for payback in Week 16 made headlines the following week, but then Week 16 came and all the Bills did is what they always do: Lose to the Patriots.
The Celtics made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals but then Danny Ainge completely blew up their roster, lighting off the offseason fireworks that had been promised years prior. Ainge went out and signed Gordon Hayward to a max contract and traded for point guard Kyrie Irving, with the Irving trade shocking the NBA world. The Celtics sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round pick to the Cavaliers for their All Star point guard, a rare blockbuster trade between the East’s top contenders.
Not to be lost was drafting rookie sensation Jayson Tatum third overall, following a surprising swap with the 76ers that sent the first pick to Philadelphia. Tatum has been incredible for Boston and is one of the favorites for this year’s Rookie of the Year award.
Yeah, it was a pretty wild offseason for Ainge and company.
Hayward Goes Down
Hayward’s first year with the Celtics ended just five minutes into the new season, as he suffered a gruesome ankle injury on a nasty tumble in Cleveland. It’s a quick Google search away if want to watch it — but we don’t recommend it. Instead, just look at the reactions from the crowd in this photo:
The Celtics aren’t expecting Hayward back this season, but the news of the forward shedding his walking boot earlier this month has many speculating it could happen.
Isaiah Puts C’s On His Back
Not to be lost in what happened over the summer was Isaiah Thomas’ incredible performance throughout the playoffs in what was perhaps the hardest time of his life. He’s been battling adversity for his entire NBA career, but nothing compares to what happened at the start of the postseason.
Thomas’ younger sister, Chyna, died in a car crash the day before Boston tipped off their opening round series with the Bulls, and Thomas still played. He juggled those emotions, flew back to Seattle for the funeral, and still suited up for Boston’s opening game against the Wizards. He lost his front tooth on a nasty face plant into the parquet floor, which required 10 hours of oral surgery on Boston’s off day, and then went out and scored 53 points in Game 2 — the day of his late sister’s birthday.
Thomas also played despite a torn labrum in his hip, which he re-aggravated in Game 6 against the Wizards. It finally caught up to him in the East Finals when he was shut down for good, and the injury still has him on the sideline (he’s expected to return to action soon for the Cavs). It was an incredible run by a special player that fans won’t soon forget.
Kelly Olynyk’s Game 7
Thomas still went out and scored 29 points in Boston’s thrilling Game 7 win over the Wizards despite his bad hip, but it was Kelly Olynyk who led the way for the Celtics. Yeah, it’s a concept we’re still trying to grasp eight months later.
The usually disappointing big man scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, as Boston outlasted Washington 115-105 to advance to the conference finals. The performance was his finest in a Boston uniform, and earned him a big payday from the Miami Heat in the offseason.
Pierce Says Goodbye
Super Bowl Sunday was an emotional one for many reasons, but it all started with Paul Pierce playing his final game at the TD Garden. The Truth didn’t play much, but fans showered him with cheers throughout the contest and he fittingly drained a three with 11 seconds to go for his only points in the game.
Boston Red Sox
So Much Drama
The 2017 Red Sox season had more drama than a middle school dance.
It started in April when Baltimore’s Manny Machado took out Dustin Pedroia at second base with a late slide. Matt Barnes threw behind Machado’s head two days later, prompting Pedroia to toss his teammates under the bus so Machado knew he had no part in it. It was an embarrassing look for the Red Sox and gave off the vibe that the clubhouse was divided.
Things got worse on May 1, when Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said he had a bag of peanuts thrown at him and, in a separate incident, a Fenway fan taunted him with a racial slur throughout the game. It sparked changes at the ballpark and an ongoing conversation about the city’s racist past. Jones received a standing ovation from Boston fans the following night.
But the most ridiculous drama the Red Sox went through last season was the David Price-Dennis Eckersley feud. Price wasn’t pleased with Eck’s commentary on a TV broadcast, and berated the Hall of Famer on the team plane. Several players joined him. The story dominated headlines for weeks, putting the team in an extremely negative light. To make matters worse, Price never apologized to Eckersley.
Sale’s Spectacular Season
Chris Sale had a phenomenal first season in Boston, and at times rivaled Pedro Martinez’s dominant 1999 campaign. The lefty mowed down opposing batters with ease and finished with an MLB-best 308 Ks for the season — five fewer than Martinez in ’99. He stumbled a bit down the stretch but went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and 0.970 WHIP on the season, finishing second in the AL Cy Young race.
Life After Ortiz
The Boston offense did not deal with the loss of David Ortiz very well. They banked on their younger players taking steps forward, but Xander Bogearts, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain.
The Red Sox had a serious power outage without Big Papi in the middle of the order, finishing last in the American League (and 27th in the majors) with 168 homers.
John Farrell Fired, Alex Cora Hired
While Farrell guided the Red Sox to their second straight AL East title, giving him a franchise record three division crowns in his five years as manager, Boston fell in the ALDS for the second straight year. After the tumultuous season, the Boston brass decided it was time to move on from their manager and bring in a fresh voice. The move surprised maybe 0.01% of Red Sox fans.
That new voice will come from Alex Cora, a rookie manager and former Red Sox infielder who spent last season as bench coach for the World Champion Houston Astros.
Claude Fired On Patriots’ Parade Day
The Bruins also made a coaching change in 2017, waiting until the Patriots were on their duckboats to fire Claude Julien, the winningest coach in franchise history.
Bruce Cassidy took over, and Claude went back to Montreal after spending 10 seasons with the franchise’s rival.
Back To Playoffs
Cassidy guided the Bruins to an 18-8-1 record after taking over for Julien and ended Boston’s two-year postseason drought in the process. The B’s had a tough draw in the first round and couldn’t sold Ottawa’s 1-3-1 zone, falling to the Sens in six games.
But Cassidy’s success earned him a multi-year contract after the season, and Boston is once again in playoff contention this season.
One of the brightest spots on the Bruins is 20-year-old defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who looks like a foundational piece for years to come. The former BU product made his debut as a 19-year-old last postseason, and has played beyond his years.