Earlier this year, on July 1st, I posted a halfway review of the sports year in which I claimed that we were, perhaps, in the midst of the weirdest sports year ever. It’s been sixth months and things haven’t gotten any less weird. In fact, they’ve probably ramped up a bit.
I know, I know. How stereotypically 2013 to declare 2013 the weirdest year ever. I get it. We’ve seen so many “epic” hashtags and “best thing ever” Buzzfeed articles that we’re desensitized. The internet has anesthetized us to weirdness, 140 characters at a time. But, the facts are the facts.
And those facts state that this year was bizarre. It was kooky. It was bath-salt-hallucinations weird.
Ladies and gentleman of the jury, let me present to you an exhaustive case proving that 2013 was the weirdest sports year in history. (*Author’s note: the events are not chronologically organized within their months. That would take work and dedication and I’m strenuously opposed to both.)
Let’s start off with a couple of key events that I somehow forgot to include on the list from the halfway mark of 2013:
- Dennis Rodman, international peacekeeper.
Which I covered extensively in a blog post earlier this year. This utterly-batshit-insane story might honestly be the weirdest confluence of circumstances in sports history. I’ll cover more of this a little later.
- Oscar Pistorious’ story stops being heart-warming.
And starts involving the word “homicide.” Looks like you better cancel the Disney biopic, you guys.
- Matt Damon’s nephew walks on at the University of Nebraska.
And the celebrity starved masses (*Author’s note: I’m including myself in this group) — in a state where one of our biggest celebrities is Larry the Cable Guy — nearly lost their collective mind in early July. Ishmail Jackson, Damon’s nephew wanted to walk on for the Huskers and the only one who could bring him in for that visit was none other than Mr. Oscar-winner himself. While on campus he threw the bones, bought some gear and posed for some pictures. It didn’t at all seem like he was actually here on a covert assassination mission run by a shadow agency involving brainwashed super-killers. But it did lead me to write this short film.
- Jay-Z and Scott Boras have beef. No. Seriously.
This is the world we live in. This is 2013. A year when those two guys are sharing headlines. Hov doesn’t have beef with Nas. He’s not worried about Diddy or 50. Nope. He’s firing lyrical shots at an old white dude who lives in Newport Beach. As if that’s not weird enough? It worked. He’s signed Robinson Cano and even Kevin Durant. However, not all rappers-mixed-with-sports weirdness is confined to 2013. Check out the one man smart enough to beat Jay-Z to the punch: that’s right. Master P.
- Florida linebacker, Antonio Morrison, is Arrested for Barking at a Police Dog.
That’s right. Suck on that, every other weird sports year. And we’re still in July. Antonio Morrison got so drunk that he decided to star in an impromptu reading of his newest script: Dr. Doolittle 3: Doolittle Harder. After the incident, I was able to secure interview rights with the police dog, Bear, and it was a hard-hitting, revelatory piece of journalism.
- Riley Cooper, Raging Racist.
I know what you’re saying. “Oh, yeah. It’s super weird that a guy who grew up in Florida ended up saying some racist stuff at a Kenny Chesney concert. What next? A fat nerd with a seldom-trafficked blog being sarcastic?” And you’d have a fair point. But it’s still pretty weird. Weirder still? The fact that the league with a franchise called the REDSKINS wasted zero time in getting sanctimoniously huffy about Cooper. The NFL: where hypocrisy happens.
- Jack Hoffman wins an ESPY.
By now, if you don’t know who Jack Hoffman is, then you’ve probably been in a sensory deprivation chamber for the last nine months, living in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in a camouflaged lean-to or you haven’t visited YouTube since. . .ever. This isn’t snarky weird. Or a stupid weird. It’s not an ironic or moronic weird.
It’s the kind of weird that sports can deliver to us that hit us right in the stomach; pull our cynical eyes up from our sarcastic keyboard sonatas that make the internet simultaneously the most fun and most dangerous place your digital self can reside. This is weird because it was a boy touching the lives of college football boys-turning-to-men; weird in that it grabbed all of our hearts and rang them out, like a sopping wet towel, and poured all the heartache and uncertainty and beauty and breathless courage that being alive can hold right out before us. Weird in that it took that liquid emotion, that heart-drumming, lip-trembling passion and joy, and painted us a picture about who we are and who we can be. And it was painted on a canvas of sports.
- Alex Rodriguez, tattle-tale.
That practically all of Major League baseball has been cheating as hard as they possibly could is not a secret. That they continue to attempt to circumvent the rules by using female fertility drugs, erectile dysfunction tablets bought from late night informercials, voodoo priestess’ incantations, and enough human growth hormone to, well, grow an entire human is also no secret. But what happened this August, when word that A-Roid himself had been leaking the names of other PED users to the press to try to throw them off his spray-tanned scent, is still the definition of weird.
- JR Smith takes the term “Under Armour” literally.
JR Smith is weird. He might even be legally insane. And when you give an insane dude a $24 Million contract to play basketball in New York, he’s probably going to do some dumb stuff with his money. But, when Smith was spotted tooling around town in his latest luxury armored vehicle you’ve officially advanced to 2013 weird. Too bad all that protection can’t armor him from his hot 34% field goal percentage this year. Also, has anyone in the Knicks organization considered getting this car for Jim Dolan? You know, for his own safety and stuff?
- LeBron James gets jury duty.
And naturally he did the most 2013 thing you could possibly do when you get jury duty. Take a selfie of yourself reporting for duty and post it to Instagram. After he posted, though, there were some really interesting comments that followed. (*Author’s note: I feel like I don’t need to say this, but I made the comments up.)
- Johnny Football goes Johnny Hancock.
Late in the summer word broke that Johnny F. Heisman Football had done something extremely Johnny Football. We all know Mr. Football was teetering on the brink of complete douchedom, flouting conventions and flaunting his Daddy’s trust fund, and so when word broke that he’d allegedly signed thousands of autographs for thousands of dollars it wasn’t extremely weird. What ended up being the weirdest part of this story wasn’t the fact that an already-rich dude like Manziel decided to risk his NCAA eligibility for some extra cash or even that Manziel had a bromager (*Author’s note: bro manager) who had dropped out of school to be his “personal assistant” and went by the pseudonym “Uncle Nate”, it was the fact that Uncle Nate and Manziel ended up actually doing us all a great service by once again depantsing the utter hypocrisy of the NCAA.
Naturally, the NCAA botched the investigation, couldn’t pin anything on anyone, stumble-F-ed their way around the media and ended up suspending Manziel for a half of a game. A half? After all the lunacy and over-coverage of the story, after all the in-depth pieces on Uncle Nate’s role in the framework of modern youth culture and the racial and societal implications that are now commonplace when the NCAA gets their cash-stained hands unsteadily involved, Manziel sat for two quarters then went out and did what Johnny F. Heisman Football does: dominated opponents and acted kind of like an a-hole.
- Cornhusker Deep Throat Strikes
Nebraska fans are nothing if not a sentimental bunch. We trumpet our politeness from atop our ivory tower at One Memorial Stadium. We march through gates proclaiming us to be the “Best Fans in College Football” and we generally pride ourselves on being great fans and supporting our program like no other fan base in the country. And though some of that probably gets overblown in a locale where the Huskers rule the headlines with an almost insane amount of fervor, there’s 333 consecutive sellouts to back that belief up should one choose to worry about those types of things.
So, when audio was leaked to Deadspin in September of an incensed Bo Pelini going on an F-Bomb laced tirade about the fanbase and the local media it naturally exploded into a napalm shitstorm. It prompted many fans to draw battle lines and either support the cuss-loving-coach or decry his behavior as completely out of line. The audio of Bo, which I listened to and heard played ad nauseum here in Nebraska, reminded me of something. Some other tremendous, fascinating F-bomb opera of rage. Then I had it! So I put the two Mount Rushmore f-word serenades together.
- Eminem and Brent Musburger: Down 4 Lyfe.
Eminem gave us what may have been the weirdest sports-related interview of 2013, when he was called up to the press box at the Notre Dame V.S. Michigan game to promote his latest album. Was he high? Was he just being the complete weirdo that he seems to genuinely be? Or was he doing his Brent-Musburger-seeing-Katherine-Webb impression? We may never know. But it sure was weird.
- Kiffin gets canned.
The weirdest part of this story is that Kiffin ever got a job at USC in the first place. Somehow, this story has gotten even weirder. (*Author’s note: See: December)
- The Chiefs finished winning their 9th straight game after going 2-14 previous year, even though their head coach is very clearly Zombie-Teddy-Roosevelt.
- 37-year-old David Ortiz wins World Series MVP.
And if history has taught us anything it’s that it’s totally normal for an over-the-hill slugger to suddenly and inexplicably bat nearly .700 in a series after he becomes shockingly rejuvenated at the plate during his 15th year in the league. Yeah, no red flags there. At all. Weird. Oh, and if you mention steroids? It’s probably just because you’re racist.
- The ‘Ole Gunslinger gets a call to saddle up and ride. . .and would rather just keep playing ball with his BFFs in their wranglers.
And the weirdest part about this story? He actually said no. RIP, Tim Tebow’s last shot at the big leagues. If they’re calling Brett Favre and not you? You might just want to pack it in and play in Canada. (*Author’s note: also discovered while Googling Brett Favre? This.)
- Dolphins beat Bengals on game-ending safety in OT.
We’ve seen some strange endings in overtime games, but this was the first walk0ff safety many fans had ever seen. It was, as it was later revealed, the third OT safety in league history. It was the first time, however, that we all got to watch Andy Dalton get drilled so hard it almost put out that forest fire he has raging on his head in GIF loopmode. You’re the best, 2013.
- Jason Kidd “spills” drink onto the court, inadvertently gives Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin an evil-genius idea.
With the Nets’ season already being deemed a colossal disappointment, with Russian bajillionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov likely getting ready to fire him so hard he ends up reffing YMCA games in a Siberian 9-and-under girls league, and with no timeouts in a close November contest against the Lakers, Nets coach Jason Kidd committed a flagrant foul. A flagrant party foul, that is.
Let me give you all a few quick pointers from the Jason Kidd School of Diversionary Tactics:
1) ALLPB: Always Look Like Pitbull. This, in and of itself, is distracting. The refs aren’t sure whether you’re going to argue a Kevin Garnett travel call or repeatedly shout “Dale!” and try to sell them Bud Light.
2) Make sure you have a cup of some dark liquid lying around to hurl onto the court. The Hennessy and coke that Kidd was sipping on works perfectly in this regard as it has maximum stickiness and a distractibility value of 7.5.
3) Make sure you have a ready and willing accomplice. Tyshawn Taylor doesn’t miss a beat. When his head coach says “hit me” to him, he doesn’t say “But, coach. . .” or even, “wha?!?” he just immediately drops his shoulder and bumps right into him like he’s trying to draw contact in the lane.
4) Don’t spill on your suit. Getting the court dirty is one thing, but that suit is Italian silk, son, and J-Kidd knows all too well how hard dark liquor stains are to dry clean out.
2013 is just really, really, f-ing weird. Jason Kidd. Coaches the Nets. In Brooklyn. And they have Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and the corpse of Joe Johnson on their roster. Huh?
- Mike Tomlin does the trying-to-cheat twostep.
Tomlin wanted us to believe he’d “accidentally” Mr. Magoo’d his way onto the very edge of the field. He hoped we’d think that he just got so wrapped up in having his back to a crucial play in the game that he kind of drifted his way out to turf. I’m not sure whether or not it changed the trajectory that Jacoby Jones was running that day, but it did cost Tomlin a cool $100k (*Author’s note: you know what they say, right? A coach on the field is worth two cups on the court. Or something.) and his dignity as all the amazingly weird, bad photoshops came rolling in. He should’ve attended Kidd’s distraction seminars and he might’ve gotten the job fully done. Here’s my favorite:
- A Kentucky high school runner withdraws from a state-qualifying race because her bib number is “666″
“And I refuse to wear the bib number 69.” Said no high school boys ever, while high-fiving their buddies and laughing a little too hard.
- Carl Pelini gets axed (and I’m not talking about his favorite type of body spray).
(*Author’s note: I understand that the actual firing/resignation/peacing out took place on October 30th, but the fallout and all the strange twists this took occurred throughout the month of November)
At the very end of October, Bo’s older brother Carl got fired from his head coaching job at Florida Atlantic. While the reasons were somewhat unclear and the narrative has been consistently changing from both sides, two things were clear about Carl’s firing: 1) It was very Florida. 2) It was very weird. As rumors swirled throughout the month of November that Carl had gotten the boot over illegal drug use, Florida Atlantic decided to handle the public inquiries with all the aplomb and honesty of a drunken teenager who just got caught sneaking back into his parents’ house after his first keggar.
While Husker fans who knew of some of Carl’s, *cough* *cough*, indiscretions while on staff here in Lincoln weren’t that shocked by the news, it was still weird to see Florida Atlantic botch and bungle their way through the whole process. Giving Carl Pelini some Florida is like giving a chimp a loaded handgun and then driving him around town in a Ferrari convertible: you’d better be ready to deal with some weird consequences. Here’s what I imagine things looked like in Carl’s office at FAU:
- Richie Incognito continues to prove that you can judge a book by its cover.
When word broke that Miami Dolphins rookie Johnathan Martin had left the Miami Dolphins for personal reasons, sports fans weren’t sure what to think. But when word broke that Richie Incognito, the oft-tattooed and oft-er in trouble, offensive lineman had been ferociously bullying his teammate, something weird happened. People hurried to attack Incognito for his brtual tactics and the fact that some reports cited Joe Philbin as having told Incognito to “toughen Martin up.” I think this was good-weird.
Weirder still? Bad-weird? Some people leapt to Icognito’s defense. They cited “locker room codes” and outdated theories on masculinity that need to die harder than a Bruce Willis Blu-Ray box set. Many players said they would have “handled it like a man” and “given it right back to him” or any other nonsensical Dr. Pepper 10 ad drivel that left me hoping against hope that there weren’t any bullied kids listening to any of these sometimes-idolized players. I thought the best quote from a player regarding the “locker room culture” that is so often cited as somehow validating this kind of insane machismo-fueled idiocy was from Brandon Marshall (*Author’s note: yes, that Brandon Marshall. See how weird this year was?).
- Auburn V.S. Alabama not only lives up to the hype, but implodes the hype like an old mine shaft during a cold war nuclear explosion test.
You know it’s a weird year when the Iron Bowl between the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide and the #4 Auburn Tigers can somehow manage to rise above all the insane SEC-fueled hype and all the gleeful dollar counting of CBS executives and somehow outperform the cacophony of hyperbole. Try a walkoff shot for the ages. Try Auburn’s miracle season somehow staying miraculous. Try a kick-six. Try a play so completely, weirdly, wild that it led to this reaction:
and this headline:
Try the biggest play on the biggest stage with the most at stake. Try a little 2013-is-the-weirdest-year-in-sports on.
- Rodman returns to North Korea.
One trip to North Korea by Dennis Rodman would have been enough to seal the fate of 2013 as the most insane year in sports history. But he’s gone there three times, now, and his latest visit was only a few days after Kim Jong-Un executed his own uncle. There’s no way to put into print how ridiculous this story is. It’s a script from a studio-rejected Dennis Rodman action movie from 1999, not real life. It’s a weird skit on Saturday Night Live that has somehow morphed into just another day in sports in 2013. Look at that picture. LOOK AT IT!
- Lions sign a rugby player who’s allegedly run a 4.22 40-yard-dash.
Carlin Isles is fast. If you watch his Rugby highlights on YouTube, that much becomes clear in a very short amount of time. If you TouTube his name you can see him jumping over cars, rocket-boosting past defenders, and performing any number of superhuman feats of athleticism.
He’s only the second YouTube sensation that the Lions have signed this year. Now, that is freaking weird.
- Gigi Datome’s been getting some run with the Detroit Pistons.
This is not a drill, people. There is a guy who looks like Jesus and has the name of a pornstar that is playing for the Detroit Pistons right now. He looks like he should only ever be seen wearing sandals. He looks like Khal Drogo with a baby hook. He has the forearm hair of every 45-year-old uncle anyone has ever had. He looks like Kelly Olynyk + puberty. And he’s all ours, NBA fans. Thank you, 2013.
- Timberwolves and Spurs game gets smoked out in Mexico City.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs were supposed to play an early December matchup in Mexico City but the game ended up getting smoked out. The official statement blamed an electrical fire caused by a short-circuit in a room full of generators. I had some other theories as to what really happened (*Author’s note: one pictured above.) But you could just chalk up a bunch of “DNP – Fire”s to another case of the 2013′s.
- Anthony Bennett continues his run as the NBA’s worst #1 overall draft pick of all time. Sorry, Kwame Brown, you had your moment.
Read that blurb. Now read it again. He sounds like the kid who would get picked last in gym class, not first overall in a professional sports league. Asthma and obesity? What, is he just trying to prove the entire world’s point about Americans? Holy hell! If I was Cleveland’s head coach I’d rather start Tony Bennett in my lineup than Anthony Bennett. At least then we would get a little pre-game crooning instead of the wheezing of an obese asthmatic. You know you’re out of shape when the best thing that could happen to your fitness is to get so sick you lose five pounds.
- Canadians invented a new sport that will soon be sweeping the world!
- Boise State QB, Joe Southwick takes polygraph test to prove he didn’t pee off a balcony during his team’s bowl trip to Hawaii.
So many things about that post from ESPN are so weirdly, awesomely, great. In order from least to best, here are the things are amazing about this story.
1) Here’s Joe Southwick’s face:
That mustache is a first-team All-American or at the very least all-conference first team selection.
2) Getting sent home from Hawaii to Boise is like someone pulling a trap door under your feet when you’re on the front steps of the Playboy Mansion and you end up falling directly into a Jabba the Hut style monster pit.
3) How did he get caught peeing off the balcony? Was it some kind of performance art designed to promote the release of R. Kelly’s new album, Black Panties? There are so many good, unanswered questions.
4) He took a polygraph test to try to prove his innocence. He took a polygraph test and he wasn’t on the set of Maury: We Had a Sacrificial Samhain Orgy and You Might Be the Father. I don’t want 2013 to end. I really don’t.
- Nick Saban hosted Lane Kiffin to “share ideas” on college football coaching.
Which is a little bit like Banksy asking the dude at Gateway mall that draws Sharpie-dongs all over the stalls in the Men’s room for advice on how to make graffiti art. It’s completely insane. I’m really, really, really hoping that somehow this is the start of some epic Nick Saban subterfuge in which he’s actually still leaving for Texas and he somehow had it written into his latest contract extension that Lane Kiffin would be contractually obligated to be the next head coach at Alabama for the next 4 years.
And there’s still a few days left in 2013. So this could legitimately happen. Because in this weird, gonzo-style year? Anything did and can happen.
Ladies and gentleman of the jury: I rest my case.
Your move, 2014. Let’s see what you’ve got for us.
(*Author’s note: That’s all I was able to come up with but what do you guys have? Help me out. I’m sure I skipped over so much weirdness and strange-itude that I need your input. What you got, readers?)