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Biggest sports stories of 2008

January 19, 2009

by Stephen Wiblemo

The new year is well on its way, and the memories of 2008 grow smaller and smaller in my review mirror by the day.

While I still had these memories in my head, I thought I would take a look back at the top national sports stories of 2008.

The year had many interesting plot lines, but my column can only go so long. So, I have whittled it down to my top three favorite story lines, along with an explanation of each:

3. Lambeau loses its big cheese – When Brett Favre announced that he wanted to come out of retirement, Green Bay fans were suddenly torn between the team they love, and the best quarterback in the franchise’s history.

After several public tantrums, the Packers finally traded their legendary QB to the New York Jets.

Subsequently, the No. 4 Jets jersey sold in record numbers the first day his trade was announced.

While Jets fans welcomed him with open arms, Vikings fans were glad to see him go, and even happier to see the confused and disheveled looks on the green-and-yellow faces of Packer fans.

Whether he returns next season or not, Favre did make a difference with the Jets, which is more than what I initially gave him credit for.

2. Yankees get a new home – Last year was the final season for the New York Yankees’ famous field, where it has played home games since 1923.

Yankee Stadium has become iconic in baseball, and American history, and has hosted a variety of memorable non-baseball events – from concerts and boxing matches, to papal Masses.

The Yankees have moved to their brand new $1.8 billion stadium next to the original.

Although it will be sad to see this modern-day Colosseum be torn down, I must say I was happy that the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs this year – bunch of overpaid whiners, if you ask me.

1. Eight times the gold – The undisputed biggest story of 2008 was Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics to beat Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals, set in 1972.

The “Baltimore Bullet,” as he is called, was electric to watch for the first week of the Olympics.

Unfortunately, with Phelps’ mission completed, the second half of the Olympics seemed less interesting, and I quit paying attention.

I have two other notes on the 2008 Summer Olympics:

First, apparently, the opening ceremony was something to behold, but I missed the whole thing and haven’t felt obligated to look for it on Youtube.

Also, I really liked China’s design addition to the medals. Each one had a different kind of jade stone ring in it. They were pretty unique, in my opinion.

Dishonorable mentions

There were a few more sports stories from 2008 that I felt were worth mentioning – not because of how inspiring or interesting they were, but because of how pathetic and sad they were:

3. Wide receiver catches his own bullet – I guess I wasn’t surprised when I heard that New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg at a night club this season.

I also wasn’t surprised when I heard the teammate who was with him tried to hide the evidence.

After Adam “Pacman” Jones’ three years in the league, nothing surprises me anymore.

I just don’t understand why well-paid athletes behave so badly. Wasn’t Michael Vick’s story supposed to teach everyone a lesson?

2. Former Olympian sprints to jail – Marion Jones brought shame to a nation, and was called “one of the greatest frauds in sporting history” after admitting she lied about taking performance enhancing drugs.

After being stripped of all her medals by the International Olympic Committee, along with ones she won in relay teams, she was later sentenced to six months in jail for perjury relating to the BALCO investigation.

Although she only served five months from March to September, I’m sure the shame she will have to live with will keep her locked in a personal jail cell for the rest of her life.

1. Lions achieve greatness in being terrible – One year after the Miami Dolphins nearly did it, the Detroit Lions became the first NFL team to go 0-16 in a season.

While the 2008 Lions will not be remembered as a great team, they will at least be remembered, which is something, I guess.

The thing I will remember the most about this Detroit team was seeing former Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper “getting his roll on” with the mangy Lions.

I can’t wait to see if he retires again, or if the Lions take him back and try to beat their own record – don’t ask me how they can lose more than 16 games, but teams this bad just seem to find a way.

So long 2008!