While the entirety of the mainstream media began releasing Best Of lists in the first week of December, I wanted to wait as long as I possibly could to create my own, because of, you know, all of the games that take place throughout December. But who cares about college football anyway, right? Screw the bowl games and their rightful observation for prestigious consideration. And I was right to wait, because I originally had UConn’s winning streak in my Top 10 – I was trying to impress a girl – and now? *fart noise* Better luck next 90-game winning streak, Lady Huskies!
We had our fair share of great stories in 2010, those that made us feel good and appreciate the positive nature of competition on the grander scale. But screw all that, right? Our culture loves to witness failure and hoo boy did we have some failure this year! We had so many head-scratchers and stomach punches that there are certain athletes who could get their very own Top 10 lists. But they don’t deserve it. Hell, there are a few guys on the list you’re about to read that I wish we never had to talk about again.
I heartily expect everyone to disagree with my choices and where they rank, and that’s why I love sports and Top 10 lists – they both inspire the most nonsensical arguing outside of politics. As always, please share your thoughts, criticisms and misguided hatred for your parents in the comments.
With that said, here are my Top 10 sports moments of 2010…
First off, the Honorable Mentions… My apologies in advance to soccer, hockey and women, but I’m the average American male, so my list should be pretty obvious. Anywho, half-assed apologies aside, here are your certificates of participation, in no specific order:
The Giants Win! The Giants Win! – The San Francisco Giants won the World Series for the first time since they were the New York Giants. Your move, Chicago Cubs. Seriously, leave Chicago.
Sexy Rexy – Not the New York Jets, just Rex Ryan – the coach, the man, the alleged foot fetishist. He stole the show on Hard Knocks with his G*d-damned snacks, and if Mark Sanchez can channel his early season self, this team could win it all, which would be incredibly entertaining.
Manny Pacquiao Is A Stud – 8 titles in 8 weight classes is a serious career feat. Too bad he and Floyd Mayweather will never shut up and fight.
Urban Meyer Retires Again – Maybe it was health, or maybe it was the realization of no Tebow, no hope. I hear the Denver Broncos are hiring.
Kobe’s Newest Dynasty – The Lakers win again and they top next year’s list without question and with an apology. Too bad he and Phil Jackson can’t get along. Suddenly Ron Artest is a voice of reason.
The Phuture Of The Phillies – Cliff Lee spurned the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers to pitch again for the Philadelphia Phillies. He joins Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to make a decent rotation. Just for giggles they should sign a golden retriever for the 5 spot.
Jimmie Johnson Wins Again – Someone won for driving in circles, other people complained.
Who The Hell Is Ines Sainz? – The TV Azteca reporter’s claims that she was sexually harassed at a New York Jets practice were stupid. Mainly because she has a butter face.
Chris Berman Gets A Hollywood Walk Of Fame Star – Someone had to pay $25,000 for it, but hey, who’s counting?
Duke’s Return To Glory – The Blue Devils won a rather uninspiring National Championship, stealing the spotlight from Cinderella Butler. But it still counts.
10. Conference Calls
For the past few years, there was a hypothetical theory brewing that always started with “If Team A decides to go here, and Team B takes Team A’s place, then Team C can move here and then Teams D-ZZZZZ will subsequently realign.” It was the basic NCAA FBS conference realignment domino theory and the possibility never really seemed strong. However, 2010 saw the theory put to work, although not nearly as severely as many pundits had predicted.
First, Colorado decided to play in the Pac-10, and then Nebraska moved to the Big 10, then Utah jumped to the Pac-10, too, and TCU moved to the Big East, and DeVry and ITT accepted their invites to Conference USA. Meanwhile, the University of Phoenix Fightin’ Pajama Girls refused to move up to the FBS because of financial complications, while Hogwarts will remain independent because of its quidditch contract with NBC. I think that’s how it all worked out.
While hardly over (rumors are growing that CUSA and Mountain West may join to form a super conference with the power of dominating weeknight games), the changes have made it clear that the almighty dollar rules the land that is college athletics. The conference realignment also led the Big 10 to change its image as officials revealed a new logo and new division names, Legends and Leaders, much to the head-scratching of everyone. In related news, Sun Belt officials renamed their divisions “Cupcakes” and “Homecoming.”
9. The Downfall of Donovan
Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles had a choice to make – cut ties with Donovan McNabb for the sake of the future or trade Kevin Kolb out of respect for the past. The team’s front office ultimately decided to trade McNabb, the franchise’s QB of the past 11 seasons, but it was the destination that sparked the most controversy – the Washington Redskins. Normally most teams aren’t too inclined to trade their franchise star to a hated rival. But Reid rolled the dice and he sure looked good for it.
McNabb’s first season in Washington could very well be his only. New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan benched McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman for Week 15’s loss to the Cowboys and he basically referred to the game as a test to see if the team is better off moving forward without McNabb. There’s also a little matter of a 5-year extension that McNabb signed with the Skins, but it’s essentially worthless. Washington can release McNabb at any time and pay very little for doing so.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are soaring into the playoffs *punches self in crotch for cookie cutter pun* and McNabb continues to be a punchline for jokes like, “Did you hear the one about the Miami Dolphins overpaying a washed up QB?”
8. Vick’s Apology
When Michael Vick was sent to prison in 2007 for his involvement in a huge dog fighting ring, he was public enemy No. 1, 2 and 3. The Philadelphia Eagles signed him in 2009 when he was eventually allowed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to play again, and he received the blessing of Donovan McNabb at the time. McNabb was traded, Kevin Kolb was named the starter in the offseason before the 2010 season began, and by September 21, Mike was the starting QB for the Eagles and the biggest pickup of the year for fantasy football owners.
Vick’s return to prominence was met by protests from many activist groups (PETA, of course, and some others) and even Tucker Carlson proclaimed that Vick should have been executed for his actions. Vick, though, led the Eagles to the playoffs and they still have work to do. Meanwhile, Vick has become the poster boy for the Humane Society and even earned the organization’s endorsement for him to become a dog owner again. Don’t get excited, it’s just this dog.
7. Brett Favre’s Genitalia
I’m going to give Brett Favre a lot of credit. For as much as he has annoyed and punished football fans with his arrogance and drama over the past five years, he sure knows how to keep his name in the news. His career is clearly over, after an incredibly poor season with the Minnesota Vikings, unless he’s just suicidal and wants to die on the field. If that’s the case, then he’ll return for another. Hopefully if he does choose to break off this latest retirement, he’ll spare us the “Oh I don’t know” routine. Of course he wouldn’t, but we’ll cross that sewer when we get there.
Since it has to be over, and so many of us would love to stop talking about him – WE CAN’T. Not since former New York Jets employee – and girl who is famous for wearing slutty clothes at FSU and USF football games – Jenn Sterger accused him of having texted her pictures of his wrinkly old penis. Now two massage therapists have also accused Favre of inappropriate behavior. Is anyone surprised by this? He hosted Tiger Woods while he was in sex addiction rehab in Mississippi, for the love of Vishnu! Granted, these are just allegations, but let’s be real.
6. Catch a Tiger’s Tale
Speaking of sex addicts, Tiger Woods’ woes began around Thanksgiving in 2009, and while new mistresses seemed to pop up every 13 seconds in the first half of 2010 (dude, I can’t even make eye contact with a Perkins waitress, let alone bang one) the real story wasn’t the demise of his marriage (this is America, we f*cking rule at infidelity and divorce) but his decline on the golf course. Tiger didn’t win a single tournament in 2010, leaving frat boys and investment brokers across the country to wonder: “Why is golf so boring now?”
While it was hardly shocking that a man who was universally regarded as the greatest to ever pick up a driver could suffer professionally from personal issues, the PGA took a beating without its star doing what he always did best – win. Appearing in only 12 events, Woods finished 68th on the 2010 money list. Meanwhile, the field leveled and 6 golfers, including Ernie Els and Steve Stricker, won two tournaments, while Jim Furyk won a tour-leading three. A recent PGA commercial implies that the field simply caught up to Tiger in 2010. I hope I don’t hurt my dominant arm with this dismissive wanking.
5. The Rise of DonovanSubscribe to UPROXX
The World Cup almost pushed the casual American fan – like myself – over the soccer hump, but the day after I still couldn’t tell you who won. However, it also gave us vuvuzela-related violence and domestic murders, so it was a great deal of fun while it lasted. While Spain’s fans probably had a blast celebrating their team’s World Cup victory, they can kiss my red, white and blue butt, because thanks to Landon Donovan, Americans finally cared about soccer. Even though it was short-lived, for a few days in the summer, millions of people went crazy because Landon kicked the game-winning goal (a rebound off a post shot by Clint Dempsey) giving the U.S. team its first group victory in 80 years.
It could be another 80 years before the U.S. ever wins another World Cup soccer game for all we know, but that video above is my pick for the coolest fan moment by far. Well, except for anything involving hot chicks flashing. Sorry, Landon but that’s America’s real pastime and I expect you to respect that.
4. Nolan Ryan: Texas Ranger
My favorite baseball story of the year, and possibly the decade – The Texas Rangers were bankrupt early in the 2010 season because owner Tom Hicks had run the team into the ground years ago and spent the past few seasons covering the scorched remains with fresh paint. Despite the financial woes and franchise uncertainty, team president Nolan Ryan traded for pitcher Cliff Lee and kept the team playing first place baseball, behind the MVP season of Josh Hamilton. The move paid off, as the Rangers made it to the World Series and reignited a shamefully stagnant fan base along the way. Of course, the Rangers lost so it was fun while it lasted.
However, the greater story involved Ryan behind the scenes. With Hicks on the run from a number of creditors demanding his head, Major League Baseball planned to auction off the Rangers to qualified ownership groups that could keep the team above water, and also pay back some of the incredibly pissed off creditors. Eventually, the bidding came down to Ryan and his group and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and his group. After hours of intense and less-than-friendly bidding, Cuban caved and let the Hall-of-Fame pitcher take control of the franchise. Then Ryan failed to sign Lee and just possibly overpaid for Adrian Beltre. Ladies and gentlemen, the Texas Rangers!
3a. Cam Newton’s Law
There was no bigger story in college football this year than Cam Newton and his father, Cecil, and the allegations that Kenny Rogers, a former Mississippi State University player, had helped them solicit at least $180,000 to play at MSU. Obviously Newton never took that money since he played at Auburn and led the Tigers to the National Championship (I couldn’t wait long enough for a result). However, the accusations were enough to leave the spotlight on Newton, who had already had problems when he was a freshman at Florida and was accused of stealing a laptop, late in the season, with rumors that as many as 6 teams had been involved in the illegal recruiting of Newton for as much as $200,000.
Eventually, the NCAA declared Newton ineligible based on MSU’s accusations, but he was reinstated after an Auburn appeal. In all, he was ineligible for one day and his father was banned from Auburn’s remaining games. That’ll teach kids and their fathers to demand money from schools. Finally, we can close this terrible chapter of illegal gifts in NCAA football.
No we can’t…
3b. Terrelle Pryor’s Expensive Ink
On December 23, Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor and four of his teammates were suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season because they exchanged rings, trophies, jerseys and autographs for tattoos. But of course the NCAA allowed them to play in the Sugar Bowl, and they’re lucky for it. After all, the student-athletes have no business profiting from their play. That’s the job of the NCAA and its sponsors.
2. LeBron’s Poor “Decision”
In terms of the most notable and talked about sports event of the year, LeBron’s “Decision” to take his talents to South Beach probably takes the cake. The ESPN exclusive special about the self-anointed King’s free agent destiny was possibly the most arrogant sports moment in history – at least in television history. Sure, LeBron and his handlers threw a veil of charity over the show – $6 million was raised through sponsorships and given to the Boys and Girls Club, so he and Maverick Carter deserve credit for that – but the people of Cleveland didn’t deserve to be teased like that. From a humanity perspective, it was just flat out mean. But from a business perspective, it was what it was called – a decision.
LeBron had every right to leave however he wanted and play for any team of his choice. It just sucked that he chose the TV show angle as if Cleveland fans would collectively say, “Haha, we almost had him! Good luck, buddy!” As the 2010-11 NBA season has progressed, LeBron has been booed louder than any player and his legacy has forever been tarnished. But he’s also realized that he’s now the villain, and the scary thing is that he’s accepted it and he’s punishing teams and those booing fans. That is, until he completely quits in the playoffs again.
(Side note – I’m giving Stephen A. Smith the 2010 With Leather Award For Journalistic Something Something for being the only “reporter” to actually predict where LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would land, despite initially guaranteeing the New York Knicks and later the Chicago Bulls. I originally called him out, and while he really did just throw poop at a wall to see what stuck, he got it right. So kudos and Cheetos to Screamin’ A. Smith.)
1. Drew Brees Saves New Orleans
I’m a guy who loves feel good stories and the Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV was the best story of the year. When Drew Brees signed with the Saints as a free agent, he had been cast aside by the San Diego Chargers for Philip Rivers, and no other teams wanted to pay him top money because they believed that Brees lacked the size to be a commanding NFL quarterback, and also because he was coming off an injury to his throwing arm. Hell, the Miami Dolphins chose Daunte Culpepper’s destroyed knee over him. So for Brees to win, it was an incredible triumph in the face of people who just suck at their jobs.
This was really about a city that needed to feel alive again, and it worked. It was exponentially more effective than Sean Penn riding around in a boat with a shotgun. New Orleans may not be fixed, it may still smell awful in some places, and tourism is down because people think that Hurricane Katrina wiped it off the map and the BP oil spill turned the wildlife into mutants with laser beam eyes. But they’re wrong, and as Rome wasn’t built in a day, New Orleans won’t be fixed in a day. The Saints, though, are the Band-Aid over the bullet wound. Sure it won’t solve the problem, but it has stopped the bleeding just long enough for us to chug a hand grenade and go to a strip club. Damn, I love that city.