Corey Marine ranks his top stories in ’08-’09

Corey Marine

One of the best things about being a sports fan is that no two years are the same. Some teams step up and surprise everyone. Others take a step back and have people wondering what happened. Players change teams. New champions are crowned, sometimes repeat. It is the parity in sports that keeps us all coming back. Here is a list of 10 events in the sports world that have kept us on the edge of our seats, or scratching our heads, over the past year.

10. T.O. joins the Bills: Terrell Owens is one of the great receivers in the game and has the numbers to prove it. However, with Owens, you have to deal with his baggage in return for his production. Everyone thought that he would remain in Dallas for a while longer because it appeared as if he had Cowboys owner Jerry Jones eating out of his hand. However, after throwing quarterback Tony Romo under the bus, along with tight-end Jason Witten, the ownership in Dallas decided Owens’ time in the Big D was up. The Buffalo Bills signed him for one year shortly after. Now everyone is wondering how Owens will treat a quarterback as young as Trent Edwards, and whether or not he can keep his cool.

9. Kobe and LeBron dominate MSG: Madison Square Garden is one of the most famous arenas in the world – the perfect stage for LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to show off their talent. Bryant set a new scoring record for the Garden, scoring 61 points and shooting 61 percent from the field. LeBron’s night in New York ended with 50 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Would anyone expect any less of the two best players in the league?

8. Plaxico Shoots Himself: In November 2008, Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg in a New York City nightclub. Burress was a pivotal part of the 2008 Super Bowl champion Giants. He stretched the field. He out-leapt defenders for the ball. He caught the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. This was very detrimental to the team, as opposing teams were able to put more defenders in the box to stop the Giants’ running attack. Burress’ legal status remained up in the air. After the season ended, the organization felt it was best to move on with their star receiver and released him in April. Even if Burress avoids receiving jail time, it will be interesting to see if the NFL lets him return to the field.

7. Fitzgerald’s Playoff Heroics: The Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald was unstoppable. He caught at least one touchdown and gained over 100 yards in every game this postseason. There were countless times when he caught the ball over multiple defenders. He totaled 546 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in the four playoff games he played in, almost half a season’s worth of yards for many of the better players in the league. The Cards’ wide-out may be the best at his position right now and is certainly one of the most exciting players in the league.

6. Brady Goes Down: Although football is a team sport, the New England Patriots became a different team when Tom Brady tore his ACL and MCL in the first game of the season against Kansas City, placing him on the IR. His injury changed the complexion of the entire AFC East and left the door wide open for anyone to win the division. Although Matt Cassel filled in for Brady admirably, he is simply not No. 12.

5. Lions Go 0-16: The Lions found themselves in the record books as the first team to go winless for an entire season. Matt Millen was fired along with coach Rod Marinelli throughout the course of the season. However, it was not enough to change the team around in time, and the team lost their last game of the season to the Packers to solidify their place in history. Equipped with a new logo and a new rookie quarterback in Matthew Stafford, the Lions have nowhere to go but up.

4. The Old Yankee Stadium Closes Its Doors: The House That Ruth Built was closed in September. The stadium was home to arguably the most recognizable franchise in all of American sports and 26 World Series Championship teams. As the Yankees brand continued to grow, a new stadium was in order.

3. UNC wins National Championship: Every year, the NCAA basketball tournament keeps sports fans across the nation on the edge of their seats. This season was no different. There was parity. There were major upsets. There were buzzer beaters. Not the Tar Heels. Their average margin of victory was slightly over 20 points a game. They only trailed 10 minutes in the entire tournament. They were the most talented team in the country, and it showed. A healthy Ty Lawson, a hungry Tyler Hansbrough and the clutch shooting of tournament MVP Wayne Ellington were too much for any team to overcome this past March and April.

2. Phillies Win the World Series: Prior to the Phils’ championship run, Philadelphia had not had a championship team in over 20 years. Coupled with strong pitching and hitters getting hot at the right time, the Phillies proved to be too much for a young Tampa Bay Rays team. Cole Hamels was great throughout the entire post season, and closer Brad Lidge was perfect. Charlie Manuel finally gave the City of Brotherly Love something to cheer about, but there is no rest for the weary as fans will be calling for a repeat.

1. A-Rod Steroid Scandal: As the youngest player to get to 500 home runs and thought by many to be the best player in the game, Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be the man to take back the tainted home run record. After denying any knowledge of having taken performance-enhancing substances and backtracking on some statements, A-Rod has some reputation building to do. However, the fans are the biggest losers here, and will have to wait for the next great clean player to take back the most hallowed record in sports.