The top 15 sports stories of 2017

As we close the book on 2017, it’s only natural that we look back at the year in sports. This year was filled with many different moments and stories that everyone was talking about. We at Vegas Squares chose our Top 15 moments and compiled this list. Enjoy…

15. Bryan Bickell scores first career shootout goal in his final game

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The 31 year old, 3 time Stanley Cup Champion, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November 2016. He returned to the ice in February 2017 with the intent to retire after the season to fight his disease. Bickell charged down the ice and shot a rocket off the inside of the right post behind Flyers goalie Anthony Stolarz, which deflected up and into the twine on the top left side. It was his first career shootout goal and it helped the Hurricanes to a 4-3 victory.

14. Ezekiel Elliott’s six game suspension

Image result for ezekiel elliott suspendedThe NFL spent over a year investigating domestic violence allegations raised by Elliott’s former girlfriend in Columbus, Ohio. She filed police reports and went to the Columbus City Attorney’s office to pursue charges in July 2016. Elliott was never charged with a crime. The league’s investigation determined that Elliott was violent toward the woman on three separate occasions. In August of this year, Roger Goodell issued a six-game suspension to Elliott. Elliott appealed to the NFL, but the suspension was upheld. Elliott eventually dropped his appeal entirely, while the NFLPA withdrew its lawsuit. Elliott served the full six games and Dallas missed the playoffs in 2017.

13. O.J. Simpson released from prison

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The former football star served nine years at Nevada correctional facility following a conviction for a 2007 botched robbery at Palace Station casino. The former football star was sentenced to 33 years at the Lovelock Correctional Center after being convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery charges in 2008 but was granted parole in July. The Nevada parole board ruled that Simpson could leave prison as early as October 1st; however, due to the anticipated media frenzy surrounding his release, Simpson’s official release date was not formally announced by prison officials. He did, however, exit Nevada State Prison on October 1st.

12. J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

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His initial goal was $200,000, and he started the campaign by personally donating $100,000. In less than three weeks, Watt raised more than $37 million on the crowdfunding site The defensive end promised that “every dollar” would be “put to work for the people in the devastated areas in and around Houston.” Harvey slammed into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane and brought with it catastrophic flooding and unprecedented damage to the area. At least 60 people are feared to have been killed as a result of the storm. And hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Officials warn that recovery efforts could take years. With $37,132,157 in his fundraising pot, Watt is working to decide which organizations would benefit most from the money.

11. Tim Tebow plays with the Mets organization

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In 2016, Tim Tebow signed a contract to play baseball with the New York Mets organization. He posted a .226/.309/.347 batting line in 126 total games this season. He split the season between St. Lucie and the Class A Columbia Fireflies. No, being a below league-average hitting corner outfielder is not good, but considering Tebow had not played baseball competitively since high school a decade ago, it’s pretty impressive he was able to do what he did this season. The fact that national sports media outlets were covering a minor league game in Port St. Lucie, Florida just goes to show Tebow’s impact wherever he plays.

10. Cleveland Indians win 22 in a row

Cleveland Indians could not be stopped for a month long stretch in which they won 22 consecutive regular season games. They set a new American League record and depending on who you ask, an MLB record (Looking at you, 1916 Giants). Their dominance during that stretch was on display as half of their wins were decided by 5 or more runs and only had one walk-off win. They swept two double-headers during the streak as well. They played exactly 198 innings during that stretch and only trailed for 8 of them. A pretty amazing accomplishment in the Major Leagues. Kudos to the 2017 Indians on your significant milestone.

9. The ridiculousness of Lavar Ball

Sometimes, we love a good sports story and wish we could hold on to it forever. This… isn’t one of those times. Before you say “oh they hate Lavar Ball, they’re just jealous,” we have no doubt that the man wants the best for his kids in life, but my god get the hell off my TV screen and keep your damn kids in school. Between the shoplifting incident in China with LiAngelo, the embarrassing Colin Cowherd “stay in yo lane” segment, to having your kids go play ball in Lithuania instead of letting them receive a proper education in one of the countries finest institutions. Lavar seems to want what’s best for the Ball boys but he can’t seem to stay in his own lane. Here’s to 2018 with less Lavar Ball, but I doubt it.

8. NFL protests
To many, this would probably be ranked higher on their lists. We say, why give ’em the satisfaction? The beautiful thing about this is that we can tune in after kickoff. Depending on what side you stand on this issue, we can all agree that’s it’s had an effect on the NFL’s bottom line. Sponsors have pulled out ads, some fans have fully boycotted and some just refuse to attend the live games anymore. The NFL may have a continuing issue if this is allowed to go on into 2018, but with Roger Goodell receiving a brand new extension, look for the protests to be fewer and farther between next football season.

7. College Basketball Bribery Scandal The college basketball world was turned upside down on Sept. 29 when the the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York laid out findings from an F.B.I. investigation that uncovered mass corruption, bribery and wire fraud involving some of the sport’s top programs. Four assistant coaches (pictured above) were charged with varying violations: Tony Bland of USC, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State and Chuck Person of Auburn. Many top ranking executives are facing several charges related to bribery including James Gatto, Adidas’ global sports marketing director for basketball. So far, the most notable firing has been Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

6. NBA Finals: the 3rd Chapter In the third installment, because lets be honest there could be eight of these rematches if these rosters remain the same, the Golden State Warriors got the better of the Cleveland Lebron’s… err Cavaliers. The series ended 4 games to 1, and to be honest it probably wasn’t even that close. The addition of Kevin Durant coupled with an already stacked roster proved too much for Lebron and his gang of misfits. Golden State has now won 2 of the last 3 NBA championships and there doesn’t seem to be a real competitor on the horizon. Time will tell.

5. Astros win 2017 World Series after Hurricane Harvey destroys the city For all the money raised by J.J. Watt and various other relief organizations, we believe nothing truly lifted the spirits of the city of Houston like the underdog Astros defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. This series was one of the most action packed that we’ve had in several seasons and many pundits say it has reenergized baseball. 7 games, tons of drama and big plays most definitely sparked a rebirth in America’s Pasttime for sure.

4. Expansion Vegas Golden Knights first home game after the tragic events of October 1st To be in that building during that surreal moment, was one we at the Vegas Squares Podcast will never forget. All 4 of us stood inside that building and reflected on the events that took place where we live and work. The families shattered by the shootings, the brave first responders were honored on the ice but what stood with me was this new stigma that our city may not be a safe haven for families to come and vacation. The Golden Knights have given us so much in terms of the healing process with their stellar on ice play and their various community efforts. We hope this continues forward in 2018. Viva VGK.

3. Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor, also known as “The Money Fight” was a boxing match between an undefeated eleven-time boxing champion and a two-division MMA world champion and, at the time, UFC lightweight champion. The match took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on August 26th. More spectacle than substance, Conor came out firing and to the surprise of some, may have won a couple of rounds. But in the end Floyd was too much for the UFC Champion, knocking McGregor out in the tenth round to extend his perfect record to 50-0. Mayweather’s guaranteed disclosed paycheck was $100,000,000 and McGregor’s guaranteed disclosed paycheck was $30,000,000. However, the purse for the two fighters was expected to be substantially higher for each, with Mayweather reportedly earning over $300,000,000 from the fight and McGregor earning over $100,000,000.

2. Alabama vs. Clemson: The Rematch

Deshaun Watson took the snap, rolled right and with one of the easiest throws he had to make all night, completed Clemson’s journey to the top of college football. A frantic fourth quarter during a championship rematch between Clemson and Alabama was decided with 1 second left on a 2-yard touchdown toss to Hunter Renfrow. A year after Alabama won its fourth title under Saban with a classic 45-40 win in 2016, Clemson denied the Tide an unprecedented fifth championship in eight seasons. In 2018 we will get the 3rd installment of this budding rivalry, but unfortunately it will occur in the College Football Playoff Semi-Finals on January 1st.

1. Super Bowl 52: The Comeback

One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time pulled off one of the greatest comebacks of all time in one of the best Super Bowls ever played. You couldn’t write a better story.

With 2:12 left in the third quarter, the Atlanta Falcons had a 25 point lead on the 4 time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. All signs pointed to Atlanta capturing their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. But stellar defense and runner runner perfect by Brady and Co., the Patriots erased that 25 point deficit and forced the first overtime in Super Bowl history. The Patriots took the kickoff in OT and marched 75 yards in 8 plays, capped off by James White’s 2 yard TD rush to give New England a 34-28 win and their 5th Super Bowl in franchise history.

We hope you enjoyed this list. Feel free to debate or add your own top sports stories of 2017. Happy New Year to everyone and thanks for being a part of our dream. See you in 2018, where hopefully the action and excitement continues. Cheers!

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