👋 Good morning! For the first time since 2013, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the New England Patriots have both failed to win a football championship. Their poor fans.
In today's edition: Tom Brady's uncertain future; lacrosse and track and field on the rise; planning your 2020 golf vacation; the Ice Climbing World Cup and much more. All in 1,571 words (~6 minutes).
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
"The fog hung in the air and swathed the field of Gillette Stadium, muting the colors and making you think, inevitably, of ghosts. It all felt like ... the past. Until the Tennessee Titans yanked [it] so powerfully into the present."— Sally Jenkins, WashPost
Two decades of brilliance and unthinkable levels of success — for Tom Brady, for Bill Belichick, for the Patriots and for the city of Boston — may have come to an end on Saturday night.
Why it matters: Brady will be a free agent this offseason for the first time in his illustrious career, giving way to a winter of speculation about whether the soon-to-be 43-year-old is done in New England — or done with football, period.
What he's saying: "I just don't know what is going to happen. I'm not going to predict it," said Brady in his final answer of his final press conference this season.
The bottom line: At no point this century has the thought of Brady changing teams felt even remotely plausible. Now, the odds are 3/2, with the Chargers getting some early buzz — an outcome my brain won't even let me process.
Go deeper: Tom Brady the pragmatist controls his NFL future (Peter King, NBC Sports)
For the third time ever, an NFL postseason round featured multiple OT games; for the second straight year, the Saints exited amid controversy; and for the first time in their lives, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill and Deshaun Watson won NFL playoff games.
Texans 22, Bills 19 (OT): Three years after leading Clemson to a 14-point comeback win over Alabama in the 2017 national title game, Deshaun Watson performed another magic trick, rescuing the Texans from a 16-0 hole.
Vikings 26, Saints 20 (OT): Two years ago, the Saints' season ended on a miracle. Last year, it ended on a missed call. This year, controversy clouded the outcome once again — yet another tragic ending for Drew Brees, Sean Payton and company.
Looking ahead ... Divisional round preview, betting lines (ESPN)
Over the past decade, the NCAA men's and women's sports with the largest net gains in participating teams (across all divisions) are lacrosse and track and field, per NCAA data.
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC — Canada beat Russia 4-3 in the World Junior Hockey Championship final, avenging a 6-0 loss in the group stage and giving the Canadians their eighth gold medal this century and record 18th overall.
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — Close friends and former world No. 1s Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki teamed up as doubles partners for the first time, winning their first round match at the ASB Classic.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND — A spectacular goal from 18-year-old Curtis Jones helped Liverpool to a 1-0 victory in the third round of the FA Cup over Merseyside rival Everton (their home stadiums are separated by less than a mile).
Justin Thomas poses for a picture with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. Photo: Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images
Justin Thomas beat Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele in a three-man playoff to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii this weekend.
Looking ahead: It's a new year, which means it's time to experience new things. If you've never organized a weekend trip to a PGA Tour event, make 2020 the year you do. Here are 12 upcoming stops with serious "golf vacation" potential:
Go deeper: Full PGA Tour schedule
Lakers fan Evan Brooks knocked down a $100,000 half-court shot at Staples Center during a break in last night's Lakers-Pistons game (LeBron had a triple-double in a 106-99 win), and this wasn't some lucky bank shot, either. That's silky.
🔥 17-1 at home
Goran Dragić (29 points and 13 assists) led the Heat past the Trail Blazers, 122-111, as Miami improved to an NBA-best 17-1 at home. For reference, they won 19 home games all of last season (19-22 record). Absolutely love watching this team play.
🏆 2 sixth men
Montrezl Harrell (34 points) and Lou Williams (32 points) — the two frontrunners for the Sixth Man of the Year award, which Williams has won the last two seasons in a row — combined for 66 points off the bench as the Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers squeaked past the Knicks, 135-132.
Six years ago today, Jameis Winston and No. 1 Florida State beat Tre Mason and No. 2 Auburn, 34-31, in the 16th and final BCS National Championship Game.
🎥 Go deeper: Game highlights (YouTube)
The 2020 Ice Climbing World Cup wrapped up yesterday in Changchung, China, with participants competing in both speed and lead disciplines.
Go deeper: Ice climbing begins to hit its peak (OZY)
On Saturday, 42-year-old Vince Carter became the fifth active player in the four major North American sports to play in four different decades.
Answer at the bottom.
Kendall "Recovering lax bro" Baker
Trivia answer: Adam Vinatieri (NFL), Patrick Marleau (NHL), Joe Thornton (NHL), Zdeno Chára (NHL)