by Peyton Gallaher
The year 2016 may not be remembered as the best year for many people. A lot of bad things happened. A lot of confrontational things happened. There were a lot of tragedies and a lot of heartache in 2016. For most of the year, the world was a spinning, stressful, scary place.
Anguish, sadness, and fear proliferated the cortexes of the human minds at many times throughout the calendar and that’s unfortunate. It is certainly no way to live.
The marrow of life, as said by Emerson Thoreau, is what must be pursued in order to enjoy life truly. Although it may be easy to concede to the crippling terror of today’s world, it’s imperative to focus on the good things. Particularly, it was a fabulous year in the
wild world of sports.
The following list includes glimpses into 16 of the most intriguing
moments in the sporting world this year.
16. Jurgen Klinsmann is Let Go
Embarrassing losses to Mexico and Costa Rica in the hex were enough to end the beleaguered tenure of Jurgen Klinsmann.
Constant criticism of inexplicable tactical decisions, inconsistent standards for players, and the malnourishment of young talent like Deandre Yedlin saw the coach’s fall from grace and his eventual termination as Team USA manager.
15. The Dallas Cowboys
The year 2015 did not treat the Dallas Cowboys well. After an injury to star quarterback Tony Romo during a week two matchup in Philly, a promising beginning to the season soured and saw the proud Cowboys tumble to a 4-12 finish.
High expectations for the 2016 campaign again shrunk with yet another Tony Romo injury, this time in the preseason, but low and behold a shiny rookie by the name of Dak emerged as the new prodigal son of Dallas.
Since Dak Prescott’s introduction, the Cowboys are 13-2 and will be hosting the NFC’s Road to The Super Bowl. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot is in grasping distance of Eric Dickerson’s all-time rookie rushing record and may become the first rookie to win MVP
since Earl Campbell in 1978. Football is just better when “America’s Team” is relevant.
13. European Glory for Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal
After an uncomfortable group stage which saw the Portuguese skid into the knockout stage on three draws, many believed that Portugal was an afterthought at this summer’s European Championship.
Riding inspired performances from Ronaldo and Nani, Portugal was able to navigate
through extra time thrillers against Croatia and Poland to the semi-final against Wales, whom they dispatched 2-0.
Even though Ronaldo only played about 15 minutes of the final, Portugal was able to shock host nation France in extra time. The unlikely hero Eder’s late goal allowed a win and their first ever major international silverware.
12. The Tide Rolls… Again
Starting with a thrilling victory over Clemson in the second College Football Playoff title game, the Alabama Crimson Tide enjoyed a perfect 2016. Literally, they haven’t lost a single game. Dominating opponents all throughout the calendar, Alabama has looked unstoppable and they look for the “two-peat” this season.
It just wouldn’t die. Does anyone else want to spend any more valuable
time on the arbitrary overlord, Roger Goodell, or what Tom Brady’s
smashed phone means? Didn’t think so.
10. A Mamba Moment
With a young squad just looking to gain NBA experience, the proud Lakers turned the season into a farewell tour for Kobe Bryant. They paraded around their “mamba” from city to city as fans waved good by to one of the most iconic players in basketball’s history.
However, despite his greatness, Kobe Bryant limped through his farewell campaign in uninspiring form. Averaging only 17.6 points a night (opposed to a career average of 25 points per game) on a team with a miserable 17-64 record, the Black Mamba was set for one last run at the Staples Center against the Utah Jazz.
Bryant, after a rough start, caught fire in the second half as he bombarded Utah with shots that conjured up memories of championship glory. He ended up dropping 60
points in a come from behind, 101-96, victory.
After the win, Bryant delivered a memorable speech that concluded with a line that was so
vintage Kobe. He said, “Mamba out.” And just like that, a 20-year career came to an end.
9. The “Sheriff” Rides Off into the Sunset a Champ
Peyton Manning is undisputedly one of the greatest people to ever throw a football. Both on and off the field, he represented every virtue a human could be asked to represent.
That said, his career as an NFL gunslinger was not winding down the way that a legend’s story should end. Benched after a meltdown at home against the Chiefs in Week 10, it appeared that Manning’s time as a starting quarterback was all but finished. However, as his Broncos started a difficult playoff run, Peyton was given one last opportunity and he made the most of it.
The Broncos navigated a tough AFC field and reached Super Bowl 50. All the while, Manning pulled the strings in the shadows as a game manager. Denver went on to win the game against the Panthers behind a fantastic defensive effort and allowed the “Sheriff” to ride proudly into the sunset with his last functional arm raised high.
8. Party like it’s 1985
Jay Wright brought his Wildcat squad into March with high internal expectations. He knew what he had in his team. The public, on the other hand, was not as certain about Villanova. The masses had been made gun shy by Nova as a result of poor tournament performances in years prior.
However, despite a dreary public perception, the Wildcats dashed brackets all the way to Houston and the Final Four. They dusted Oklahoma, 95-51, and advanced to a titanic matchup with UNC in the championship game.
The Title was a game for the ages, as it swung back and forth for the full forty. Coming down the stretch, Marcus Paige floated and drilled a ridiculous, double clutch three, to tie the game up at 74-74 with five seconds left to play.
Jay Wright called a timeout and went over how he wanted the last shot taken and what he drew up became legend. Kris Jenkins caught a scooped pass from point guard Ryan Archidiacono and banged a 25-footer at the buzzer, to win Villanova’s first championship since the miracle 1985 team.
7. Kevin Durant Heads West to Form a Superteam in the Bay
In a landmark move that saw the “Slim Reaper” leave comfy Oklahoma City for greener pastures, the NBA superstar signed up with the Warriors to form a super team like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
Durant’s move was the highlight of an eventful summer in the association. He burned bridges, created conflict, and cultivated storylines for hordes of hoop nerds and reporters alike to digest. Whether this is a good precedent for basketball or not is yet to be decided.
6. A Tearful Farewell to Legends Lost
To Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, José Fernandez, Pat Summit, Lavell Edwards, Craig Sager, Joe McKnight, Jon Saunders, Dennis Green, Buddy Ryan, Gordon Howie, Kimbo Slice, Donnie Everett, Pearl Washington, Will Smith and many more, thank you for inspiring. You will be sincerely missed by those who not only cherished your
athletic abilities but your humanity. Thank you.
5. The Pride of Rio
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games were doomed before they even began. National instability in Brazil, dubious water quality, terrorist threats, and the Zika virus were pieces of a laundry list of concerns that cast a dark shadow over this summer’s Games.
Needless to say, folks feared the worst entering the month-long celebration of the
Earth’s most outstanding athletes.
What the world witnessed in Brazil was a sensational exhibit of national pride, passion, and athletic prowess. The Games were a massive success with names like Simone
Biles, Katie Ladecky, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Michael Phelps, and Gabriel Jesus capturing the world’s attention.
4. Kaepernick Takes a Knee
Easily the most polarizing moment in sports during 2016, Collin Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the national anthem started a dialogue in America about race relations and the athlete’s voice.
Whether you agree with the sentiments of Kaepernick or not, this much cannot be denied. The conviction, character or motivation of choice can certainly be debated, but the aftermath cannot.
3. One for the Land
One of the most anticipated NBA Finals ever lived up to the hype as the Warriors and Cavaliers duked it out in a phenomenal seven-game series.
Whether it be Lebron’s chase down block on Andre Igudola, Draymond’s controversial suspension, or Kyrie’s series winning shot over Klay Thompson in Game 7, a moment in this Finals will stick out forever in the mind of the most casual sports fans.
2. Holy Cow! The Cubs Won a World Series
Just going to leave this here. It’s so shocking that it’s hard to even analyze. All that is certain is that Billy Goats no longer curse Chicago sports teams and that Kris Bryant will probably get free Portillo’s for as long as he lives.
1. Leicester City Won the Whole Bloody Premier League
Coming into the 2015-16 premier league campaign, many predicted that Leicester city would be demoted back to the championship. Oddsmakers around England set a 5,000 to 1 bar for the Foxes to win the premiership and left them for dead.
The betting man’s odds literally suggested that the opening day likelihood that Leicester would win the Premier League was less than being struck by lighting on the way
to the game, but they went and won the league anyway.
Often times they played in a tense, gut-wrenching fashion, but they always played
beautiful football. The style they played was their own. With a squad that was bought for 54 million pounds, they forged an identity by absorbing pressure constantly and then counter-attacking when the opponent was vulnerable.
It is understood that immense pressure can form diamonds, and the foxes were a true diamond in the rough. Even in their matches, just as it appeared they would finally crack and that all hope was lost, they would bounces back and create an opportunity.
The foxes ransacked conventional thinking in that way. Leicester never relented, and never fell off. It was never an individual for Leicester, it wasn’t even a team. It was an entire community unified behind an opportunity to do something impossible.
The Foxes were undisputedly the greatest thing about sports this year, maybe ever,
because they were impossible.
The year 2016 may be remembered as a good year for a lot of people. A lot of good things happened. A lot of constructive things happened. There were a lot of miracles and a lot of smiles in 2016. It saw the death of centuries-old curses, the constant delight of hope, and the fall of oppressive dictatorships (looking at you, Sepp Blatter).
For most of the year the world was spinning, but that’s a good thing. If the world keeps on spinning, that promises that tomorrow will be a new day. With every new day, there are endless possibilities. For goodness sake, the Cubs won it all. Why can’t you
do something impossible too?