Sports Moments That We Wish Happened Every Year
Even on their worst day, sports are pretty awesome. What (or who) else manages to thrill and surprise us each and every year with many of the same characters but almost always with fresh, new material?
Short of labor strife killing the entire season of a major sport, almost any year can be called "A Great Year in Sports."
This year is no exception—in fact, 2014 has already given sports fans some amazing moments...and football season is just around the corner. If the year in sports was a game of Yahtzee, it would already be in the bonus.
With a solid four months left, 2014 is playing with house money and features more than a few moments from the last seven months that we wish would happen every year.
Johnny Manziel Goes Pro
Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel officially announced his intention to go pro in 2014, but he had one foot out of College Station, Texas, since last June, when he tweeted (and then detweeted) his desire to leave all the “bulls--t” behind.
After becoming the first freshman ever to win the Heisman in December 2012, Johnny Football officially became a media sensation. Because of his penchant for courting controversy and unwillingness to tone down his party-boy antics, Manziel has become a one-man circus.
Maybe that’s not good for the Browns or Manziel’s long-term career prospects, but it sure is entertaining. Now he’s out of the protective bubble colleges create and has millions of dollars burning holes in his pockets. So far it’s been a wild ride. If only it didn’t seem destined for an abrupt and unpleasant end.
The buzz leading up to the Olympics almost feels like much ado about nothing. Then the opening ceremony happens and competition begins. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and for once it seems like we all have something in common.
Realistically, financially and logistically, putting on the Games every year would be an absolute impossibility—even if the Summer Olympics alternated yearly with the less fun Winter Olympics. But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t enjoy it if it could happen.
SportsCenter Gets a New Set
ESPN airs about 900 episodes of SportsCenter every day—give or take—which is why 10 years in between set redesigns just doesn’t cut it. In June the Worldwide Leader finally debuted a new set, more than a decade after its last overhaul.
The futuristic new set is tricked out with 114 monitors, compared to 15 in the old version, and is built from the ground up as part of a new 194,000-square-foot digital center, which will hold five studios. Obviously they’re not going to make any drastic changes again for a while, but some annual tweaking could keep things fresh.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady Meet in the Playoffs
Truth be told, the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady rivalry has entered its final chapter. With both of them now on the wrong side of 35—at least in terms of an NFL career—any season could realistically be their last.
Some argue the matchup has lost its luster, while others insist it was overrated from the get-go. Maybe both are true to some degree, but Manning-Brady is definitely one of the best football rivalries of the modern era.
And it’s one we’d like to see just a little bit more of before these two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks call it quits.
A Major Commissioner Retires
Commissioners have no term limits, which means they can stick around and be horrible for…ever. And usually they do. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a great job that pays boat loads of money and comes with an intoxicating amount of power to wield over players and fans alike.
In 2014 NBA Commissioner David Stern retired after 20 years in the position, and MLB’s Bud Selig is also set to call it quits after almost 15 years on the job. Unfortunately, the reigns of Roger Goodell (NFL) and Gary Bettman (NHL) will go on for…ever…probably. Evil is nature's finest pickling agent.
If one of these guys was forced into retirement every year, we’d never be more than four years away from change.
Richard Sherman's Epic Interview
In January, Seahawks superstar cornerback Richard Sherman gave a very passionate postgame interview to Fox’s Erin Andrews following his team's victory over the division rival 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Sherman went off on Niner wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and then the whole sports world went off on Sherman.
It was absolutely ridiculous. The kind of anger and hate Sherman’s interview induced in some people was so over the top and crazy. Eventually the frenzy subsided, but the man at the center of it isn’t one to back away. Sherman is a guy who likes to press people’s buttons, so this one is probably going to become an annual event whether you like it or not!
Heat Lose in the Finals
There are few things that have brought the country together more successfully over the last four years than the Miami Heat losing in the NBA Finals. It was particularly gratifying seeing them lose in 2011 after LeBron James guaranteed not three…not four…not five…etc.…championships, but the magic was still there in 2014.
That being said, as much as making fun of fair-weather Miami fans is, there’s a good chance the loss of LeBron will take them out of the running for the time being and let out too much air from the Heat hate balloon. If that’s the case, seeing either Duke or Kentucky lose in the NCAA final would be a perfectly adequate substitute.
Cities Make Their Case to Host the NFL Draft
Scheduling conflicts at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall in 2015 forced the NFL to consider alternate draft locations. There was discussion about relocating the event to Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center, but uncertainty with the Knicks and Nets' playoff schedules ultimately ruled them out.
The Big Apple was still in the running until recently when the NFL announced that, for the first time since 1965, the draft would be held outside New York City. Over a dozen cities expressed interest in hosting the event, but it has since been (predictably) narrowed down to Los Angeles and Chicago.
If the change goes over well in 2015, there is a possibility the league will take the event on the road annually, much like the Super Bowl. But it would be open to a much greater number of destinations because weather isn't much of a consideration in April and May.
LeBron James' Free Agency
Love him or hate him, there’s nothing quite like the frenzy created by the free agency of NBA superstar LeBron James. The infamous spectacle known as “The Decision” back in the summer of 2010 was such a stunner, most figured it would never be topped.
Only LeBron himself could top it, and the only way to do so would be orchestrating what four years ago was thought impossible: a return to Cleveland. The whole thing was such a scene, and the whole sports world became rubberneckers on the highway.
As for making it an annual tradition, Willy Wonka can best sum up the sentiment.
Much like the Olympics, the World Cup is held every four years and whips the soccer-loving world (which now seems to include the United States) into a frothy futbol frenzy. This year’s tournament was the first that really caught on among Americans and legitimately left us wanting more.
Making this a yearly event would obviously diminish the return, but let’s pretend we live in a perfect world—just for once. If the World Cup became an annual event without losing any of its magic, it would be a great addition to the summer sports calendar, which is tragically lacking in everything but baseball.
Zach LaVine Gets Real
When it comes to drafting, barring trades or a great team with an unexpectedly down year, the best players usually go to the worst teams. Have you ever seen a player put on a happy face after getting drafted by a terrible team and thought to yourself, “Man, you know he’s secretly got to be so bummed right now.” We all have.
They are coached to plaster on a smile and recite all the right talking points about how excited they are to come in and make a difference—it’s boring and fake. Apparently Timberwolves rookie Zach LaVine doesn’t do boring or fake. When he was drafted by Minnesota in June, the freshman out of UCLA didn’t bother trying to hide his displeasure.
LaVine dropped his head into his hands and appeared to quietly mouth “f--k me” to himself before walking on stage (NSFW language contained in link). Was it the best way to endear himself to a city and his new teammates? Noooooo. No it wasn’t. Was it a refreshingly honest and hilarious reaction we’d always hoped to see? Yes, indeed. Let’s hope it becomes a trend.
Derek Jeter Retirement Tour
The overall public sentiment toward Derek Jeter is completely at odds with that of the Yankees, the team he’s played his entire career for. The Yankees are pretty universally loathed outside their fanbase, which makes the enduring likability and popularity of The Jeet all the more impressive.
Jeter’s decision to run a season-long victory lap before retiring has been embraced throughout MLB. He has already been honored on the road in Houston, Seattle and Anaheim, and at the MLB All-Star Game in Minnesota. Seriously—White Sox players are just grateful for the opportunity to play in his presence.
Could you imagine if Alex Rodriguez tried the same thing? Yikes. Brett Favre tried it a few years ago, and it wasn’t well-received. Jeter’s retirement tour has been such a love fest that it would be nice if we could repeat it every year.