Anyway you cut it, the 2010’s have been very very good to Boston sporting fans. I think its easily one of the two best decades this century.
Because this is the lazy season of sports journalism, and the “is Die Hard a Christmas movie” debate has been drilled into the ground and left to smolder, it’s time for a year in review.
But wait, this is the end of a decade, so as to bask in the riches that the 2010’s hath bestowed upon us, here are the top 10 Boston sports figures of the 2010’s.
10. Devin McCourty
Drafted in 2010, McCourty narrowly edges out Dont’a Hightower for the 10th spot on this list only because he’s played two more seasons in New England. McCourty along with Xander Bogaerts are the two most underrated stars in Boston sports from a national perspective. McCourty never gets mentioned amongst the top safeties in the league because he’s not a ferocious hitter like Earl Thomas or big personality like Tyrann Mathieu. McCourty has missed just 5 games in his career and last missed one in 2015. McCourty has been a stalwart in Foxboro for a decade, so his acclaim is on this list.
9. Zdano Chara
Feels like the thing to do right? Chara’s been captain the entire decade for a team that’s gone to 3 finals and won a Stanley Cup. Remember the ovation he got last playoffs when he suited up with his jaw wired shut? Do that and you get on the list.
8. Danny Ainge
The only Celtics representative on this list. There had to be someone, even though this was a banner-less decade for the Green, it hasn’t been a terrible 10 years for the Celtics. Shrewd trades that dealt KG and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, trading for Kyrie and then letting him walk away have set up the team to be a contender for the next decade. (But the NBA takes wild swings every off season so who can really tell?)
7. Mookie Betts
One of the greatest single seasons in recent team history, Mookie was the heart and soul of the 2018 Boston Red Sox. The silver sluggers, gold gloves and the MVP award illustrate what a lynchpin Mookie has been to the post-Papi era in Fenway and the most important piece for the next decade.
6. Patrice Bergeron
Does anybody know how good this guy is? He’s in the stage of his career where he’s making history every other month. He’ll have his number retired to the rafters one day and this past decade has been the best slice of his hall of fame career.
5. Julian Edelman
Super Bowl LIII MVP, and the greatest receiver in team history. Perhaps the craziest stat of the decade is that Julian Edelman has never made a Pro Bowl. It is hard to imagine that someone who will one day be accepting a gold jacket was never named a league all-star. Not that he ever would have had the chance to play in a Pro Bowl, as for the last 10 years it was just as likely as not that Edelman would be suiting up in the Super Bowl.
4. Rob Gronkowski
The toughest call on this list was who should be higher: Gronk or Edelman. Few have owned a decade like Gronk owned the 2010’s. One of the most recognizable athletes Boston has ever produced, he was one of the most dominant as well. Gronkowski’s career landed him on NFL 100’s All-Time team, one day he’ll be enshrined in Canton and it has landed him as number 4 on our list.
3. David Ortiz
2013 was profound. While so much of David Ortiz’s career took place in the 2000’s, Papi carved his spot on the Red Sox Mount Rushmore in 2013. From his epic “This is our F’in City” speech to his game 2 grand slam off Joaquin Benoit and finally his MVP performance in the World Series, 2013 will be remembered in similar reverence as Yaz’s epic Impossible Dream season.
2. Bill Belichick
Something that gets lost in the Patriots dynasty, is that Bill Belichick has pulled double duty this entire decade as not only head coach but general manager. To have a team for 10 years that has won the division, never had to play in the wild card round and win atleast one playoff game every year is beyond remarkable. That level of consistency doesn’t exist in the NFL. Only 3 teams haven’t played in the wild card round this decade: the Browns, Buccaneers and the Patriots. The Patriots are the only one of the 3 that made the playoffs. Coach Belichick solidified his spot as one of the top coaches the game has ever seen over the last decade and could further his reputation in the next 10 years.
I had a really tough time deciding who should be number one on the list. Belichick or Brady? We may never know the answer to who should get more credit for the spoils that the Patriots and we as fans have enjoyed over the last 20 years.
Brady gets the nod because his greatness is on display: 28-3, 4 touchdowns vs the Legion of Boom, 505 passing yards in a loss in Super Bowl LII and a continuing to compete at the highest level into his 40’s. Belichick or Brady, having to argue this topic is what I call a “champagne problem” and New Year’s is a fine time to pop a little bit of the bubbly.