2011 has brought us some great moments, as well as some sad tragedies. We’ve seen records broken, legends pass away, scandals and who can forget Tebow-Mania. This is the 2011 sports year in review.
Robert Griffin III, 77th Heisman Award Winner:
Griffin III snagged the 2011 Heisman honors and rocked the fashion would with his trendy Superman socks (picture). Will Griffin follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Cam Newton? Cam is having a sensational rookie season with the Carolina Panthers.
Monday, December 26th, 2011:
Drew Brees became the sole owner of the most passing yards in an NFL season. Brees knocked off Dan Marino and his record of 5,084 passing yards, a record that has stood firm since 1984.
Sunday, December 4th, 2011:
Carolina Panthers rookie and former Auburn sensation, Cam Newton, took the NFL by storm this season, breaking two records. Cam broke the single-season rushing TD record for a quarterback, previously held by Steve Grogan (12) by packing in three TD’s and bringing his total up to 13 on the season.
Thursday, February 10th, 2011:
Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics sinks his 2,561 three-point bucket to go ahead of Reggie Miller as the all-time leader and undisputed three-point king.
Saturday, July 9th, 2011:
Derek Jeter becomes the 28th MLB player to reach 3,000 career hits. He also becomes just the 2nd to do so with a home run (Wade Boggs). Jeter reaches this accomplishment on a day where he’d go 4-4 batting.
The Bad, the ugly and the downright tragic:
Ndamukong Suh stomps Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving day and is ejected and served with a two-game suspension. This vial act falls on the shoulder of the Detroit Lions first winning season since 2000.
Penn State and legendary coach, Joe Paterno, choke on allegations of child molestation filed against former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno resigned from PSU after 46 years. The child molestation trial rages on.
Tennessee Lady Vols head basketball coach, Pat Summitt, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in late summer. Summit, an eight-time champion has resumed her coaching career despite her tragic illness.
Legendary home-run king, Barry Bonds, was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice after nearly a decade of trials and investigations. The other counts of perjury were nixed by way of a mistrial.
Peyton Manning misses the entire 2011 NFL season, due to multiple neck surgeries. This injury propels the Indianapolis Colts into a tailspin of losses, as they started the season 0-13 and have had their name linked to Andrew Luck more times than Barry Bonds’ name has been linked to steroids.
Ohio State head football coach, Jim Tressel, resigned after the Ohio State football program as a whole had spent months being dragged through the mud for NCAA allegations. The Buckeyes have also been banned from post-season play in 2012.
Oakland Raiders owner, Al Davis, passed away on October 8th at the age of 82. Davis had owned the Raiders since 1970 and was credited for much of their success over the years.
Former Heavyweight Champion and boxing icon, “Smokin” Joe Frazier, died on November 7th, at the age of 62. Frazier’s Philly style and his epic battles versus Muhammad Ali will forever remind us of the true champion Smokin Joe was.
Weeks after winning National League MVP honors, Ryan Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone levels which generally means PED’s. Braun is fighting the allegation, but could face a 50-game ban to start the 2012 season.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt is disqualified from the mens 100-Meter final at the IAAF world championship, due to a false start.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is sentenced to 90 days in jail for a domestic dispute that occurred in 2010 involving his ex-girlfriend. Mayweather dodged some serious felony charges that could have locked the champion up for a couple of decades.
Former HOFer, Lee Roy Selmon, died on September 4th, at the age of 58. Selmon was a former #1 overall pick in the 1976 draft. He collected 78.5 sacks over the course of his career, which he spent the entirety of with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1984 British Open winner, Seve Ballesteros, passed away on May 7th due to a brain tumor. He was 54 years old.
Former Brooklyn and LA Dodger, Duke Snider, died of natural causes on February 27th. Duke was 84 years old.
American aerial skier, Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, was found dead in his apartment on July 25th after an apparent suicide. Peterson was a silver medal winner at the 2010 winter games in Vancouver. He was 29.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
The Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA championship in 2011. This collection of older veteran players cam in as the heavy underdogs and beat out the favored Miami Heat, led by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, in six games.
The Green Bay Packers came into the 2011 NFL post-season as a Wild Card team and they took full advantage of the “sleeper” label, defeating every opponent on their way to Super Bowl XLV. They defeated the favored Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 and collected their fourth Super Bowl title.
The St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th World Series in 2011. Propelled by the best player in the game today, Albert Pujols, the Cards were able to knock of the Texas Rangers in 7 games.
The Boston Bruins won their 6th Stanley Cup in 2011 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in a seven-game series. The Bruins goalie, Tim Thomas, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP.
Novak Djokovic finally proved his worth, as he knocked off Rafael Nadal int he US Open final. Djokvic had fallen short to make headway with the likes of Nadal and Roger Federer in past years.
Tiger Woods finally won a tournament. Although it wasn’t a major and doesn’t put him any closer to catching Jack Nicklaus, a win is a win, and I’m sure Tiger Isn’t picky at this point.
Tebow-Mania has been in full effect. Tim Tebow started his (real) NFL career off at an astounding 7-1 record. All the Tebow critics were kept at bay, while Skip Bayless looked like a genius for the first time in the history of sports reporting. The Tebow-Train still stands at a whopping 7-3. And his fan-base is about as large as it gets. High School kids getting suspended from school for “Tebowing” in the hallways and NBA stars paying homage via Twitter. And this may just be the tip of the iceberg for Timmy and the Broncos.
Albert Pujols scorned the St. Louis Cardinals in LeBron James fashion and signed with the Anaheim Angles for a reported 10-year, $254 Million. Yes, St. Louis fans burned his jersey in the streets.
The NFL Lockout ended after 127 horrendous days of agony and pain. It was the longest of it’s kind in the NFL and hopefully, but unlikely the last. Sports fans rejoiced as America’s number 1 sport was back in action without missing any games.
The NBA lockout last 149 days, and unlike the NFL it caused it’s players and fans to miss games. The NBA picked up on Christmas day with a 5 game selection that almost made fans forget about the 16 regular season games that were lost as a result of the lockout.
Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers jumped over a Kia to clinch his first victory in the 2011 NBA dunk contest, featured at All-Star weekend. This was a huge exclamation point to Blake’s dunk-happy, first NBA season.
The Detroit Lions clinched a wild card berth in the 2011 NFL playoffs. This will be there first playoff appearance of the 21st century. The Lions, led by Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh, have not tasted the playoffs since 1999.
Carmelo Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks on February 22nd. This move paired Melo with Amar’e Stoudemire and looks to shape the growing trend of big stars in large markets in the NBA.
Deron Williams bolted from Utah in a trade that sent him to the New Jersey Nets. The Nets will make their move to Brooklyn after the 2011-12 NBA season and this is yet another move that solidifies superstars playing in big markets.
U.S. Forward, Abby Wambach, scored a goal via her head to tie the USA with Brazil (2-2) in the Women’s Wold Cup. The USA would go on to win the match after goalie, Hope Solo, did a stunning job of defending the net during penalties. USA went on to win 5-3 over Brazil.
Rutgers defensive tackle, Eric LeGrand, was badly injured when he collided an Army kick returner. LeGrand suffered spinal cord injuries and it was though that he’d spend the rest of his life as a quadriplegic on a respirator, but LeGrand fought back. He started breathing on his own and was even able to lead the Scarlet Knights onto the field in a motorized wheelchair to face West Virginia.
The 10 year anniversary of 9/11 was honored and the victims of this great USA tragedy were celebrated at every level of sports, professional and collegiate alike.
The New Orleans Hornets were finally able to accept a trade without NBA commissioner, David Stern, blocking it. The Hornets sent their all-star point guard, Chris Paul, to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Hornets wouldn’t have been able to retain Paul at seasons end and needed a trade in order to get value in exchange for the point guard.
Written By: ANDY FLINT
Follow Us On Facebook @Sports-Kings
Follow Us On Twitter @RealSportsKings
News broke today that legendary Heavyweight boxer Joe Frazier is in the advanced stages of liver cancer, and may only have a short time to live. Sources said that Frazier “is in serious shape and looking for a miracle.”
Frazier, known best for his battles with Muhammad Ali including the “Thrilla in Manila”, became a star during his era.
Outside of the ring, Joe was a sport and good-will ambassador, and to this day still trained young fighters in his Philadelphia gym.
This quote by a friend of Smokin’ Joe sums up the guy that he is:
“Joe is one of the sweetest guys you could ever meet. Sometimes we’d be driving down the highway and see a car broken down and we would have to go out and help somebody. That’s Joe Frazier.”
Now in the fight of his life against the deathly liver cancer, we can only pray that a miracle occurs for the 67-year-old Frazier.
Before the “Thrilla in Manila”, Ali said to Frazier: “they told me you were washed up”
Frazier replied “they told you wrong.” Let’s hope once again that statement is wrong.
Senior Columnist: Jim Racalto
Boxing’s heavyweight division, throughout history, has set the bar for greatness in the sport. With the recent slew of different divisions stepping into the limelight and the decline of the heavyweight class, I decided to make a list of the best to ever lace the gloves up. I will be the first to admit that making a list of this nature was not easy, and coming up with different criteria on which to base the rankings was nearly impossible, making it very subjective. All comments and opinions are more than welcome! So now, let’s honor the ten greatest heavyweight warriors ever to grace a boxing ring:
Nickname: Smokin’ Joe Career Record: 32-4-1, 27 KO’s Hometown: Beaufort, SC.
Frazier’s biggest fight occured in 1971, when he figured out the chess match that was Muhammad Ali and defeated him in the “Fight of the Century” in a unanimous 15 round decision. Known for his toughness and brutal inside style of fighting that rocked opponents with big body shots, Smokin’ Joe was a throwback to the old school during a time of emergence in boxing. He fought out of Philadelphia, PA, and still trains young fighters in his gym there today.
Nickname: The Galveston Giant Career Record: 73-13-10, 40 KO’s Hometown: Galveston, TX.
Johnson’s career was marred by racial turbulence during the early 1900′s. He dominated Tommy Burns for the title, and then defeated James Jeffries, the former champ who had come out of retirement to take the title from Johnson “for the white race.” This was all for not, as nobody could even compete with Johnson as he held the title from 1908-1915. He was a superbly patient and defensive fighter, but at the same time powerful and relentless. He was imprisoned on a trumped up charge of moving an illegal resident across state borders for sexual purposes, and lost a big part of his career. He was officially granted a pardon in 2008.
Nickname: The Big Bear Career Record: 50-4, 39 KO’s Hometown: Sand Slough, AR.
Liston had one of the most tumultuous upbringings I have ever come across. Born on a date unknown into a poor share-cropping family in Arkansas, Liston relocated to St. Louis in his youth and became a career criminal. He was arrested after a robbery and turned his attention to boxing while imprisoned. When he entered the pro ranks, Liston quickly blew through everyone with his powerful jab and apparent inability to be knocked out. He defeated Floyd Patterson for the title, and held it until running into Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in 1964. Liston would lose to Ali twice and never reclaim the title. He died in 1971 due to unexplained causes, some believe he was murdered by his former criminal connections. Liston had strange ties to the criminal underworld and his career was very controversial. Sadly, it seems he is remembered more for this controversy than his actual talent as a boxer.
Nickname: The Manassa Mauler Career Record: 66-6-11, 51 KO’s Hometown: Manassa, CO.
Dempsey is one of the more popular fighters in boxing lore. He was a standout in American society and a celebrity in every sense of the word. Jack possessed incredible punching power and his aggressiveness was unmatched, especially back in the early 1900′s when fights were downright brutal. Many consider him to be one of the greatest, and no doubt he was a superb boxer. But as a boxing fan I see his legacy tarnished for supposedly fighting with loaded gloves (one time with a nail in his glove), and also he never had to throw down with Jack Johnson. Dempsey held the Heavyweight Title for much of his career (1913-1927), until he was beaten by Gene Tunney in 1926.
Nickname: The Easton Assassin Career Record: 69-6, 44 KO’s Hometown: Cuthbert, GA.
To me, Holmes is one of the more amazing boxing stories. His career spanned three different decades, as he fought from 1973 to 1999. His list of notable wins include his Heavyweight Title win against Ken Norton, a knockout of a previously retired Muhammad Ali, and a decisive win against “The Great White Hope” Gerry Cooney. He lost his title to Michael Spinks in 1985 and the subseqeunt rematch in 1986. Holmes retired in 1987, then came back in 1988 where he would be up and down until 1999. Most of the losses on his record came after 1988, including his only time ever being knocked out at the hands of Mike Tyson.
Nickname: Big George Career Record: 76-5, 68 KO’s Hometown: Marshall, TX.
George Foreman’s career record is incredible. After an impressive start to his pro career, Foreman stepped into the ring to take on champ Joe Frazier in 1973 as a 3:1 underdog. Foreman quickly showed his superiority, taking the title from Frazier in a fight that would be stopped in the late rounds. He is best known for the “Rumble in the Jungle” title fight with Muhammad Ali. Foreman was 40-0 coming into the fight, and lost his first fight (and only one by KO) that night in Zaire in 1974. This was the fight where Ali applied the well-known “rope a dope strategy.” Foreman’s most amazing accomplishment was staging a comeback in 1994 after being out of boxing for ten years. 19 years the senior of champ Michael Moorer, Foreman shocked the world knocking out Moorer in the 10th round and regaining the Heavyweight Title. Foreman will always be remembered for not only being relentless in the ring, but being a good-will ambassador outside of it.
Nickname: The Brockton Blockbuster Career Record: 49-0, 43 KO’s Hometown: Brockton, MA.
Rocky Marciano, whose real name was Rocco Marchegiano, is one of my all-time favorites because of his Italian heritage and fighting style. Many people think Rocky Balboa emulated the fighting style of Marciano in the movies, which is not entirely true but is still a legitimate comparison. Not to mention the era in which he fought (primarily during the 1950′s) was when fights were 15 rounds, stoppages did not occur, and fighters conceivably could suffer life threatening injuries in the ring. Still the only Heavyweight to retire undefeated and champion, Marciano tragically died in a plane crash in Iowa in 1969 at the age of 45.
Nickname(s): Iron Mike, Kid Dynamite Career Record: 50-6, 44 KO’s Hometown: Brooklyn, NY.
I don’t even know where to start with Iron Mike. Possibly the most naturally talented combination of speed, power, accuracy, and defense the Heavyweight ranks have ever seen. I have always contended had Tyson’s legendary trainer and adopted father Cus D’Amato not passed away when Mike was still a young fighter, he would have never lost. Watching Tyson in his prime is a thing of beauty, and is evidenced when he became the youngest title-holder in boxing history at 20 years old. I firmly believe nobody, and I mean NOBODY in history could have beaten Kid Dynamite when he was 20. Sadly he fell victim to his own celebrity, being surrounded by shady managers, and promoter scumbag extraordinaire Don King; those factors ultimately led to the decline of his once illustrious career.
Nickname(s): The Greatest, The Louisville Lip Career Record: 56-5, 37 KO’s Hometown: Louisville, KY.
Ali, born Cassius Clay, is neck and neck with Tyson as being the most naturally talented Heavyweight ever. His 6 foot 3 frame, impeccable footwork, unmatched accuracy, and lightning speed made Ali the most complete package in the ring. Ali was also known for his antics outside the ring, including predicting the rounds in which he would beat an opponent, boasting endlessly, being an outspoken opponent of racism and the Vietnam War, as well as publicly converting to the Islam religion. Ali was the new Sugar Ray Robinson in his prime, and no fighter since Ali has brought more entertainment, skill, and popularity to the sport.
Nickname: The Brown Bomber Career Record: 69-3, 57 KO’s Hometown: Lafayette, AL.
If I could pair any two fighters in their prime, it would be Joseph Louis Barrow and Muhammad Ali. Following the turbulence of Jack Johnson’s reign at the top, as an African-American fighter Louis was denied shots at the title early in his career. After promoters carefully carved his image for the media, Louis defeated James Braddock in 1937 and held the Heavyweight Title for 12 straight years. Louis’ marquee victory came in a re-match with Max Schmeling in 1938, who had previously handed Louis his first career loss in 1936. After the win, Schmeling became a hero in Germany, and the Nazis attributed his victory to the white race being “superior.” This did not fit well with Joe Louis, who after winning the title made it a point to avenge the loss. He did just that at Yankee Stadium in 1938 with the world watching, disposing of Schmeling in 2 minutes and 4 seconds. Louis’ only other two losses came when he was 36 and 37 years old. He may not have been as fast as Ali, but he possessed more power, was just as accurate, and was a more calculating fighter. Throw in the fact Louis was 6 foot 2, and that would take away Ali’s advantage with the jab he held over most fighters. His career record speaks for itself, and I truly believe the Brown Bomber was the greatest Heavyweight of all-time, and shouldn’t be undermined because he wasn’t as flashy as some of the other guys.