CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Queen City had its fair share of ups and downs in the world of sports during 2019, including one of NASCAR's greats saying goodbye and playing host to NBA All-Star Weekend.
On the football field, Cam Newton's foot injury that derailed the Panthers' season before it got started triggered a series of events that will undoubtedly reshape the team's future.
Oh, and David Tepper helped bring Major League Soccer to the Queen City. These are the 10 biggest sports stories of the year.
1. Major League Soccer comes to Charlotte
David Tepper made it clear he wanted an MLS team. He got one.
Flash forward 17 months, and he delivered. Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber officially awarded Charlotte the 30th franchise on December 17, 2019, with Tepper and Mayor Vi Lyles there to celebrate.
2. CMC runs his way to football history
Christian McCaffrey was brilliant, becoming just the third player in NFL history to amass 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season
To be honest, there wasn't much to remember from the Panthers' dismal 2019 campaign. Except for Christian McCaffrey, that is.
The third-year do-it-all tailback was sensational for Carolina, joining NFL greats Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig as the only players in league history to hit 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in a single season.
3. Cam Newton's injury derails the Panthers' season
For all intents and purposes, the Panthers' season was doomed from the get-go
Entering 2019, there were questions about Cam Newton's health, but they were all focused on his shoulder after offseason surgery. Newton looked impressive in training camp, making throws he hadn't been able to after playing through an injury for several weeks in 2018. The optimism quickly turned to concern in the preseason, when Newton suffered what was initially believed to be a sprained foot against New England.
Carolina is now forced to make a decision on Cam's future with the team. Newton is due $21.2 million against the salary cap but the team can save $19 million by trading or releasing him.
4. Ron Rivera is fired by the Panthers
For the first time since 2011, the Panthers are looking for a new head coach
A close loss in snowy Green Bay was followed by defensive breakdowns against Atlanta, New Orleans, and Washington, in a four-game span that led to Rivera's dismissal.The two-time AP NFL Coach of the Year was fired, with team owner David Tepper saying he wanted to be honest with Rivera, and didn't want to go behind his back in the search for a new head coach.
5. NBA All-Star Weekend comes to Charlotte
After losing the 2017 All-Star Game, Charlotte played host to the event in 2019
Twenty-six years after hosting its first NBA All-Star Weekend, Charlotte again welcomed the basketball world to the Queen City,three years removed from losing the 2017 game due to House Bill 2.
Visit WCNC for the full top 10 moments.