The SportsLifer couldn’t get through the year without one more top 10 list.
So here they are, the top 10 moments in New York sports, 2008.
1. Catch XLII: Sparked by the unbelievable Eli Manning to David Tyree pass play, the Giants rally to defeat the previously unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl.
2. Yankee Money: Failing to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, Yankees sign free agents C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Texiera.
3. House Cleaning: The Knicks finally manage to get rid of Isiah Thomas, and new coach Mike D’Antoni puts Stephon Marbury out to pasture.
4. Collapse: For the second year in a row, the Mets fall apart in a September swoon and allow the Phillies to steal the NL East championship.
5. Collapse Redux: Brett Favre and the Jets lose four of their final five games and miss the playoffs, forcing the removal of coach Eric Mangini.
6. Final Farewell: Many of the greats return as the Yankees play the final game in the House that Ruth Built and the Mets close Shea Stadium.
7. Giants Among Men: Despite the distraction of the Plaxico Burress shooting, the Giants earn top seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs.
8. He Said, He Said: Disgraced Roger Clemens tries to clear his name of steroid allegations by trainer Brian McNamee.
9. Domination on Ice: The Rangers continue their sudden mastery of the cross-river rival Devils, taking round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs 4 games to 1.
10. Smart Sign: The Mets pull a huge off-season deal, acquiring left-handed pitcher Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins to fortify their pitching staff.
SportsLifer is in the midst of summer vacation. Just spent a week on the beautiful, yet underrated, Jersey Shore. It’s a tough life, making decisions like whether or not to bring the suntan lotion, when to go in the ocean and where to buy the ice.
Gave me some good ideas about the wireless cabana of the future.
Anyway, a lot happened while I was away. Trying to sort it all out, but I now know:
- Brett Favre is quarterback of the Jets.
- Mike and the Mad Dog are no longer a couple.
- Michael Phelps is a pretty good swimmer.
- Sergio Garcia feels the power of The Jinx.
- Hank Steinbrenner has more quit in him than George ever did.
- There’s such a thing as a too hot tub.
Are the Jets a better team with Brett Favre at quarterback? Of course. But let’s not start printing Super Bowl tickets just yet.
In Green Bay, Favre had history on his side. Winning history. Not so with the Jets.
The Jets have gone this route before, with mixed results. They’ve had a history of picking up veteran QBs, admittedly none as good as Broadway Brett.
But Boomer Esiason, Vinny Testaverde, and Neil O’Donnell weren’t exactly slouches.
Esiason, who finished he career with 247 touchdown passes, arrived in New York in 1993, five years after he was NFL MVP in leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl. Boomer played three years with the Jets, and the team was 15-27 in games he started. They failed to make the playoffs in any of those three seasons.
Fresh off a Super Bowl loss to the Cowboys, O’Donnell left the Steelers to sign as a free agent with the Jets in 1996. He played two seasons in New York, and the Jets failed to make the playoffs either time
Testaverde, the number one overall pick by Tampa Bay in 1987, arrived in New York in 1998. The free agent pickup was an instant success.
Testaverde, who threw 275 touchdowns during the course of his 21-year career and ranks sixth all time in pass attempts, completions and yardage, led the Jets to the AFC championship game in 1998, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Vinny and the Jets. That’s the furthest the Jets have advanced in the playoffs since the 1968 team, led by Joe Namath, won Super Bowl III.
Testaverde guided the Jets to another playoff berth in 2001 only to get knocked out in the first round by the Oakland Raiders.
Even the franchise’s quarterbacking standard-bearer, the Hall of Famer Namath, made the playoffs just twice in 12 seasons in New York (1965-76).
It’s been 40 years since the Jets first, last and only visit to the Super Bowl. That’s a long time.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” – William Shakespeare
Was planning to drive up to Albany real early this morning to see the New York Giants in training camp. All packed, camera in the car, ready to go. But I overslept.
I was dreaming that the Giants beat the undefeated Patriots on a miracle play in the Super Bowl. Then I woke up and realized it was true.
So I started thinking about the strange occurrences we’ve seen in sports in the past year. One year ago, you would have been dreaming if you said:
- The Giants would be defending World Champions.
- That Manny Ramirez would be wearing Dodger blue.
- And Joe Torre would be his manager.
- That the Boston Celtics would win the NBA title.
- That the Tampa Bay Rays would be in first place.
- That Greg Norman, 53 years young, would be leading the British Open with nine holes to play.
- And that he would be cheered on by his new bride, Chris Evert.
- That Brett Favre would retire. Or unretire. Or retire….wait a minute, Brett, wake up and make up your mind.
- That Roger Clemens would make a fool of himself in front of the entire nation.
- While his former teammate, Mike Mussina, would be pitching like Cy Young.
- That Appalachian State would beat Michigan. In the Big House. Yeah right.
- That Marion Jones, the queen of the 2000 Olympics, would be in jail.
Did I just dream all that? Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
1. Johnny Unitas (Colts, Chargers, 1956-73)
A three-time champ with Baltimore, nine times an All-Pro, seventh all-time with 290 touchdown passes. Holds the NFL equivalent of Joe Dimaggio’s streak, 47 straight games with a TD pass.
2. Joe Montana (49ers, Chiefs, 1979-94)
Joe Cool, a third-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, won four Super Bowls in nine years with the 49ers in the 80s, 45 playoff touchdown passes, and five passing titles. He was an All-Pro seven times.
3. Brett Favre (Falcons, Packers, 1991-2007)
All-time QB leader in virtually every category, including consecutive games started (253), wins (160), touchdowns (442), completions (5,377) and yardage (61,655). This Packer legend did it all with a certain joie de vivre.
4. Dan Marino (Dolphins, 1983-99)
Lifelong Dolphin set many standards later broken by others. His record 48 TD passes in a single season snapped by Peyton Manning and Brady; Favre broke his career record of 420 TD passes last year.
5. Otto Graham (Browns, 1946-55)
Talk about championship pedigree, Graham played for the league title in each of his 10 years in pro football, four in the AAFC and six in the NFL. A 10-time All-Pro, he won seven league championships.
6. John Elway (Broncos 1983-98)
This gunslinger from the Rockies played in five Super Bowls and won rings in his last two years. Noted for nearly 50 fourth quarter comeback wins, he’s fifth all-time with 300 passing TDs.
7. Roger Staubach (Cowboys, 1969–79)
The sole Heisman Trophy winner on this list (in 1963), this Navy graduate, aka Roger the Dodger, won two Super Bowls and five passing titles, and was named All-Pro five times.
8. Sammy Baugh (Redskins, 1937-52)
Slingin’ Sammy dominated the late 1930s and 1940s, winning six passing titles, two NFL championships, and nine All-Pro berths. And if that wasn’t enough, he could punt too….very well.
9. Bart Starr (Packers 1956-1971)
Starr quarterbacked the great Green Bay dynasty that won three NFL championships and Super Bowls I and II. The leader of Pack scored the winning TD in the Ice Bowl, and won three passing titles.
10. Terry Bradshaw (Steelers 1970-83)
A number one overall pick out of tiny Louisiana Tech, Bradshaw led the Steelers to four Super Bowl wins in a six-year stretch. A three-time All-Pro, his pass helped author the Immaculate Reception in 1972.
Fran Tarkenton, Vikings-Giants…third in passing TDs, fifth in yardage
Sid Luckman, Bears…four NFL titles with Bears in the ’40s
Steve Young, 49ers…six passing titles, one Super Bowl
Was Brett Favre the best quarterback ever? That ‘s a up for debate (and perhaps the subject of a future blog)…but any QB who leads all-time in wins, touchdown and yardage is certainly in the discussion.Favre played the game with spirit…and he played every game….and he had fun doing it.
Giant fans will always remember his last pass — the Corey Webster interception in overtime on a frigid night in Green Bay that catapulted New York into the Super Bowl.
Does anybody really care whether Stephon Marbury shows up at Madison Square Garden. There’s lots of guys on the Knicks who don’t show up, even when they’re active and playing.
The Knicks are irrelevant. Shame on you, Son of Cablevision Dolan and Isiah for turning one of the charter NBA franchises into the laughingstock of the league.
Here’s hoping your attorney is not giving you the same lame-brained advice that Rusty Hardin has given Roger Clemens. Rusty reminds me of Phineas T. Barnum.
He’s got the clowns and the high-wire act, just missing the elephants and cotton candy.
Better start doing your NCAA homework. March Madness will soon be upon us. Major in bracketology.
Teams play the entire season and virtually everyone — outside of the Ivy League — is still alive and kicking.
Trivia question: Name the only college football team to have three players make the NFL Hall of Fame?