Take a look back at this year and you might find that something bizarre or unique happened each day. From politics to sports, and everywhere in between and on either side, the year 2016 has been unlike any other.And since much of the commentary you’ll hear at the end of this year will revolve around “Can we just forget 2016 happened?” let’s use this as a time capsule to help us years later remember just how 2016 the sports year 2016 really was.
Peyton Manning wins Super Bowl — with fourth-worst passer rating for a winning QB ever
Peyton Manning is among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. And he ended his career on top, winning Super Bowl 50 as the Denver Broncos beat the 17-1 Carolina Panthers. But, need we remind you, this is 2016. So of course Manning, the owner of NFL career records for passing yardage and touchdown passes, registered a 56.6 passer rating in the game -- fourth-worst for a Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Leicester City wins the Premier League
For most of its history, Leicester City FC has toiled in the second and third levels of the English soccer pyramid, failing to break through into the Premier League more often than not. The club finally made it back to the top level for the first time since 2004 ahead of the 2014-15 season but was nearly relegated back after finishing 14th. The Foxes entered the 2015-16 season with 5,000-1 odds to win the Premier League, so of course they started hot, never cooled and pulled away to win the club's first top-level championship in its 132-year history.
Cleveland wins a major pro sports title
The city that donated more to sports' emotional angst than anywhere else in the past century -- "The Drive," "The Fumble," "The Decision," Johnny Manziel -- finally stood tall when hometown hero LeBron James carried his Cavaliers to the NBA title. It was the Cavs' first NBA title and the first major pro sports championship for "The Land" in 52 years. The Cavaliers came back on the 73-win Golden State Warriors after trailing three games to one in the Finals.
73-win Warriors have best regular season, but don’t win title
The Golden State Warriors won the most regular-season games in NBA history, going 73-9 last season. They bested the Michael Jordan-led Bulls' record of 72 wins set in 1995-96. All season, the debate was whether the Warriors were the best team ever. Well, the team that broke the regular-season wins record by one game lost in the NBA Finals by one game -- after leading 3-1 in the series.
UFC’s Dana White appears at RNC
How exactly does the president of a mixed martial arts organization take center stage in prime time at the Republican National Convention? Because the calendar indicates that it's 2016. So far-fetched are the joining of these two worlds -- despite silly jokes about how politics can be a bloodsport -- that the fifth and sixth sentences of White's speech went like this: "I'm sure most of you are wondering, 'What are you doing here?' I am not a politician, I am a fight promoter."
For most, a gold medal would be the highlight of their Olympic experience. Ryan Lochte isn't most. Just days after winning the 12th medal of his Olympic career, Lochte became engulfed in an international controversy that overshadowed much of the 2016 Olympic Games. On the morning of Aug. 14, 2016, Lochte and three of his teammates, Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were involved in a dispute at a Rio de Janeiro gas station. Lochte originally claimed the men were forced out of their taxi at gunpoint and that the robbers showed police badges. That claim was proven false, as surveillance footage showed the swimmers were held by security guards at the gas station until they paid for damage they allegedly caused while vandalizing a bathroom. In the days after the incident, Feigen, Bentz and Conger had their passports temporarily seized, while Lochte was eventually charged with falsely reporting a crime in Rio. Lochte later admitted to lying about having a gun pointed at him, claiming he was intoxicated both during the incident and when he made the accusation the next morning. He was later suspended by the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming for 10 months, while the other men involved received four month suspensions.
Teddy Bridgewater's knee destroyed in non-contact drill
Football is a vicious sport, with bodies beaten and battered in the locker room after a game. But, this is 2016, and one of the most devastating injuries of the season happened in a non-contact drill at practice. Teddy Bridgewater dropped back to pass during a Vikings' practice less than two weeks before the start of the season and his knee gave out. Bridgewater dislocated his knee and tore his ACL. Doctors are unsure if he'll ever play again.
Geno Smith returns as Jets starter, blows out ACL after one quarter
Last year, Geno Smith lost his starting job as quarterback of the Jets because he got punched in the face by a teammate and had his jaw broken. (Come to think of it, that's about as 2016 as it gets, too.) Ryan Fitzpatrick took over the job, led the Jets to 10 wins and threw a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes. Fast forward to 2016 and Fitzpatrick gets benched in favor of Smith, who in the second quarter of his first game back, tears his ACL. Just to keep things interesting, because 2016 is like that, Fitzpatrick replaced the injured Smith, called out ownership and management after the game not knowing that Smith would be lost for the year. Now guess who's the starting the quarterback for the Jets? Yep!
Odell and the kicking net: A love story
After winning their first two games, the Giants dropped their next three games and needed a late rally to get back to .500. But for all of the problems the Giants faced in that stretch -- a stagnant offense, a leaky offensive line, a front seven that couldn't get to opposing quarterbacks -- it was Odell Beckham Jr.'s roller-coaster relationship with the team's kicking net that was all anybody wanted to talk about. You read that right: The kicking net, because remember, it's 2016. Between Beckham's initial sideline tantrum (and the net's retaliation), Beckham and the net hugging it out after he scored against the Packers and Beckham proposing to the net after a huge game against the Ravens, their complicated love affair was all over the airwaves in September and October.
Chicago Cubs win World Series for first time since 1908
Tough break for the "Back to the Future" franchise. The 1989 movie's wild "Cubs win World Series" prediction was one year off. The movie said 2015, clearly not realizing that 2016 would be the year when the normalcy monitors needed significantly recalibrated settings. But yes, in real life, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in the early hours of Nov. 3, 2016, beating the Cleveland Indians in a Game 7 to remember and thus ending a 108-year drought for the franchise.