What makes a great sports year? Do we define a sports year when the unthinkable becomes reality? When we say goodbye to greatness? Do we define the world of sports with the motto “anything could happen”? As we turn the page on 2016 in to 2017, the contributors of Back Sports Page look back at the year that was 2016 with their highlights and memories. Today we start with the NFL:
Danielle McCartan (Pro Sports Rundown): Tom Brady's 4 game suspension is upheld. After a long-fought battle over under-inflated footballs, the NFL imposed a 4 game suspension on the New England Patriots' future Hall-Of-Fame quarterback. I still remain skeptical about the entire situation. However, in the record books, as baseball sluggers have asterisks next to their names for PED usage, I believe Brady should have one next to his to signify this scandal that tarnished the NFL's integrity.
Matthew Berkson (Back Sports Page): The top story in the NFL for 2016 has to be Commissioner Roger Goodell. He’s the captain of the NFL’s ship and his decisions, and abuse of power, should have him on the hot seat. However given how the NFL continues to print money, the owners aren’t motivated to change anything. To me, Goodell doesn’t come off as the brightest guy in the room, but whatever the reason, his actions in terms of how he/the league has handled domestic abuse cases among its players is totally appalling.
Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games for messing with football air pressure. Josh Brown was suspended for ONE games for admitting to beating his wife (and that was only after severe public pressure).
Maybe the NFL is a massive metaphor for the society we live in, but we need to start putting health and care for one another at the top of the list. Goodell continues to prove himself more of a figurehead just pushing the financial agendas of the owners, or a poor decision-maker incapable of coming up with just solutions.
And what may be the biggest metaphor for society so far…For continually dropping the ball when it comes to leading the latest sports business, Roger Goodell gets paid over 30 million dollars a year.
Scott Thompson (Beast of the East Sports): Being a Giants fan, it's hard to admit this one but no doubt the biggest story in the NFL this regular season has to be the rookie combo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys. While Elliott lived up to his hype entering his rookie year, Prescott stole the show taking the starting position from Tony Romo. Two rookies led americas team to 13 wins making the future of the cowboys extremely bright
Steve Saunders (Back Sports Page) The Rams return to tinsel town with a major splash, trading up to the top spot to draft Jared Goff and jump to a 3-1 start...then win one more game the entire rest of the season
Ryan Morik (Beast of the East Sports): NFL Watching Peyton Manning go out on top was the best NFL moment of 2016. Throughout his career, people always said "Peyton was not made for the playoffs." "He's a regular season quarterback." Whether he was made for the playoffs or not, it is without question that he is still one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Sure, he was picked up by a phenomenal Broncos defense, and he didn't even win Super Bowl MVP honors, but to know that one of the GOATs won his final game, a Super Bowl, there's no better way to go out.
David Mignano (Back Sports Page): NFL: While the story capped off the 2015 season the best NFL moment of 2016 was Peyton Manning finishing his glorious career with a Super Bowl victory. While he was certainly not at the head of this effort there is no denying that this was a story book ending for one of the game’s greatest. He was the face of the NFL for decades and the poster child for how an NFL player should be, his only blemish was a large number of playoff failures. Getting over the hump this last time and getting that second ring should put to rest any Peyton naysayers. He is arguably the greatest QB of all time and he went out on the grandest of fashions.
Eric Webb (Back Sports Page): I think the biggest NFL story of the year, besides the Panthers losing the Super Bowl after going 15-1, was Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests. It was the topic of conversation for a few weeks and forced people to think beyond sports. I personally didn’t mind it because in a time where racial injustice seems commonplace it’s important to emphasize how a public figure can use their platform for the greater good.
Nicole Monique (That's What She Said Sports): 2016 was an interesting year for the National Football League. First, the continuation of deflategate - Tom Brady missed the first four games of the season and guess what New England survived and so did America. Thankfully deflategate is over (we hope.)
The defending Super Bowl Champions started the season without their previous starting quarterback – Peyton Manning. Speaking of Peyton Manning, he too had an interesting season before he officially retired. He was benched, accused of using PED’s but then ultimately won his 2nd Super Bowl ring. Now that’s how you leave and head to Canton.
The NFL also saw referees go nuts with the unsportsmanlike penalty which slowed down the game considerably. The “No Fun League” took a turn for the worse with the NFL turning athletes into robots. We get it you don’t want football players to celebrate anything – but the ref’s took it a level where it just wasn’t fun anymore. The NFL used to have personalities that were fun to watch and it made the game wildly entertaining. In 2016 it almost seemed that it was almost a job to watch football – the games were less entertaining and too long. Which leads me to the other big NFL story of 2016 – too much of a good thing.
The NFL kicked off on Thursday’s, then you had Sunday morning (with teams playing in London) Sunday all day, Sunday evening and then Monday night. Not to mention most football fans also enjoyed watching college football on Saturdays. It was truly too much of a thing and sometimes not so good. Some Thursdays you were stuck watching Jacksonville or the LA Rams. No one wants to spend 4-6 hours watching the Jaguars do anything (sorry Jacksonville fans but you know it’s the truth) so with all the this the NFL is “thinking” about ending Thursday and I say PLEASE DO.
Lastly, the season started with NFL.com reporter Steve Wyche noticing San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the preseason sitting on the sidelines during the National Anthem. Wyche asking Kaepernick “why?” became not only one of the most talked about NFL stories of 2016 but sports stories of the year. Kaepernick was leading his own protest against the anthem which started a conversation that some didn’t want to have. Regardless of what side you were on – it was the kind of conversation needed especially during the election year we just experienced.