2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

At the end of the year, it’s always interesting to look back at all that has happened in the world of sports over the last 12 months. 2008 brought us a host of compelling sports stories, including the culmination of the Patriots’ (unsuccessful) quest for perfection, a Bejing Olympics that featured incredible accomplishments by the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and the Redeem Team, and, of course, Brett Favre’s unretirement, which managed to hold the sports news cycle hostage for a solid month or more.

As is our tradition, we’ve once again broken our Year End Sports Review into three sections. The first is “What We Learned,” a list that’s packed with a number of impressive feats. And when there are feats, inevitably there are also failures.

Don’t miss the other two parts: “What We Already Knew” and “What We Think Might Happen.”

The New England Patriots weren’t so perfect after all.

After rolling through the 2007 regular season unscathed, the Patriots entered the 2008 Super Bowl as overwhelming favorites to roll over the pesky, but seemingly inferior New York Giants. The Pats were just one win away from staking their claim as the best football team in NFL history. But thanks to a dominating Giants’ defensive line, an improbable catch by David Tyree, and a virtually mistake-free performance by Eli Manning, the unbeatable New England Patriots were beat. It’ll go down as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, and considering Tom Brady’s season-ending injury in 2008 cost the Pats a chance for redemption, it seems that many have forgotten how New England stood just one win away from perfection. – Anthony Stalter

Michael Phelps is part fish.

Eight gold medals in one Olympiad? No problem. Michael Phelps made the seemingly impossible look (relatively) easy en route to one of the most – if not the most – impressive Olympic performances ever. Phelps had to swim all four strokes, compete in both sprint and endurance races, and deal with the constant media attention and pressure that came along with his quest. Sure, NBC turned up the hype, but what Phelps accomplished is simply incredible. – John Paulsen

Usain Bolt is part cheetah.

First, Usain Bolt made Jamaica proud by setting a new world record (9.69) in the 100-meter sprint. Then, he broke the 12 year-old 200-meter world record with a time of 19.30 seconds. He showboated during the first race but cleaned up his act to win the second race in a professional manner. Some even say that Usain Bolt – not Michael Phelps – was the biggest story to come out of the Bejing Olympics. – JP

The Big 12 has the best quarterbacks in the nation.

The Big 12 housed some of the best quarterbacks in all of college football in 2008. Texas’s Colt McCoy, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Missouri’s Chase Daniel and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell were all considered Heisman candidates at least at one point during the season, while McCoy and Bradford are still in the running. Amazingly, Bradford and McCoy aren’t done; both will return in 2008. And although they don’t receive as much attention as the top signal callers in the conference, Kansas’s Todd Reesing and Baylor’s Robert Griffin certainly turned heads this year as well. In fact, the highly versatile Griffin is only a freshman and could make the Bears a very dangerous team for years to come. – AS

Read the rest after the jump...

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Fantasy Football Podcast: Week 11

Listen in as Anthony Stalter and I discuss Clinton Portis’ injury, the return of Cadillac Williams and Tatum Bell, Matt Hasselbeck’s back and Willie Parker’s shoulder. We also talk about a couple of quarterbacks that have nice matchups this week.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

(The opening and closing music is Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)“)

Broncos to bring back Tatum Bell?

The Broncos are reportedly interested in bringing back the suit case stealer.

The Broncos are taking a look at Tatum Bell.

The former Broncos tailback who rushed for 921 yards in 2005 and 1,025 yards in 2006 will work out for the team this morning, according to several NFL sources.

Bell would make sense given team’s extraordinary injury predicament at tailback and his familiarity with the system.

At taiback, the Broncos have lost Michael Pittman, Andre Hall, and Ryan Torain to season-ending injuries and a fourth tailback, Selvin Young has been bothered the past month with a groin strain.
The Broncos selected Bell with their second-round pick in the 2004 draft. He averaged 5.3 yards a carry in his first two seasons, then reached the 1,000-yard threshold in his third. He was then traded to Detroit, along with right tackle George Foster, prior to last season in exchange for cornerback Dre’ Bly.

Bell, 27, opened the 2008 preseason as the Lions’ No. 1 tailback, but he was released Sept. 2.

Not a bad idea. Bell was brutal in Detroit, but had success in Denver’s zone-blocking scheme. The Broncos have had major issues running the ball over the past couple weeks and maybe Bell could provide a spark. At 27 years old, he’s certainly worth a look.

Lions players new and old sure have fun with Halloween

SPORTSbyBROOKS.com has the story of Roy Williams and his hilarious choice for Halloween costume.

Everyone had a good laugh, but what about the butt of the joke: the still jobless Tatum Bell? Williams said he texted Bell asking him if it was cool, and received the go-ahead. If true, that means that Bell has managed to grown a sense of humor in the two months since he took the bags and snuck out of Ford Field like a child taking his ball and going home.

The Lions annual Halloween party seems to be more mean-spirited than most. The stars of last year were Jon Kitna and his wife, dressed up as defensive coach Joe Cullen and Wendy, from the restaurant. Cullen had been arrested for, among other things, picking up an order from the Wendy’s drive-thru window naked. Here’s that costume:

Jon Kitna

They may be winless, but it’s hard to argue with the Lions’ players sense of humor on Halloween. Williams’ mock costume of Bell is priceless!

Rudi Johnson stole Tatum Bell’s job; Tatum Bell stole Rudi Johnson’s luggage

After bolstering their backfield by signing former Bengals running back Rudi Johnson, the Detroit Lions informed Tatum Bell of his release. Shortly after that, Johnson informed Matt Millen that someone had made off with his bags:

Tatum BellJohnson left his bags outside CEO Matt Millen’s office while he met with team officials and, ultimately, worked out a deal with the team.

So when Johnson came back to get his bags, they were nowhere to be found. Johnson and Millen were stumped.

Enter the eye in the sky.

The team checked the videotapes generated by the team’s in-house surveillance system, and they quickly identified the culprit.

So who might it have been? None other than Tatum Bell, who lost his gig with the Lions after Rudi arrived.

Per the source, Bell took the bags to the house of a female acquaintance. When confronted on the matter, Bell offered up some cockamamie story that he thought the bags belonged to someone he knew. The girl, however, said that she hadn’t seen Bell in several months and he showed up out of the blue and asked her to keep the bags for a while.

Johnson eventually retrieved his bags and, reportedly, charges were not filed.

Times are undoubtedly tough for Bell right now. Jobless and with a reputedly poor work ethic, it may be quite some time before he lands another NFL gig. He was understandably desperate. And pissed. But the silver lining here is that Bell solidified his legacy with this one brilliant decision. He’ll no longer be remembered as an over-hyped, underachieving fumbler. Now, he’s the guy who stole Rudi Johnson’s luggage. How sweet is that?

Meanwhile, Lions fans should be grateful that Rudi didn’t have to pursue Bell on foot, since recent history suggests his hammy wouldn’t have survived the chase. In which case the Lions may have once again been in the market for a running back, and since Tatum Bell already knows the system….

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