By Ryan Chatelain
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Man, 2016 was a bizarre year — especially in sports.
That might not immediately seem so evident to you, but when you step back and look at the last 12 months as a whole, you’ll understand.
Let me show you.
It started in January when the Giants promoted offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to head coach. Despite having recently gone on a couple of big-time job interviews, he showed up at his introductory news conference wearing an oversized suit, which the sports world, rightfully, teased him about.
McAdoo blamed the G-rated wardrobe malfunction on the fact that he had recently lost weight. Fair enough.
But if that’s not bad enough, McAdoo has recently had his appearance, namely his haircut, criticized by — get this — the flawless supermodel known as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
2016 saw a hockey player, Arizona’s John Scott, who had scored five goals in seven years, selected by fans to be the Pacific Division captain in the NHL All-Star Game. It was the equivalent of an all-star game getting Rick-rolled. That triggered what appeared to be a sinister effort to undermine the will of the sarcastic-voting fans, by trading Scott to Montreal and then sending him down to the AHL, supposedly making him ineligible for the All-Star Game.
After much controversy, Scott was eventually allowed to play. And wouldn’t it figure he won All-Star MVP after scoring two goals?
Are you kidding me?
In February, Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis briefly found himself in the center of a social media scandal when his account “liked” a pornographic tweet. He and the Knicks blamed it on hackers or spammers, but they never explained why the coach was following an account called “@GreatAssDaily.”
The lead-up to the Major League Baseball season was interesting, to say the least.
And remember Matt Harvey’s bladder issue? When he told reporters he developed blood clots because he wasn’t urinating frequently enough, he inadvertently gave tabloid headline writers a reason to do backflips. In fact, the New York Post thought up so many pee puns it printed a series of mock-up back pages with headlines such as “WHIZ KID,” “FIELD OF STREAMS,” and “PISS & TELL.”
Harvey’s lousy pitching eventually drowned out the childish jokes.
In Chicago, the White Sox’s Adam LaRoche was asked not to bring his son to work every day. He responded by retiring, walking away from $13 million.
And that wasn’t even the strangest news story involving LaRoche in 2016!
In April, LaRoche told ESPN The Magazine that he and Brewers pitcher Blaine Boyer had spent 10 days undercover in southeast Asian brothels working to free underage sex slaves. It’s only a matter of time before this story is turned into a Netflix series.
There was also the NFL draft, which provided us with a real-time, social-media soap opera involving Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, a gas mask bong and a hacker. The incriminating video of the projected top-five pick laughing hysterically while inhaling pot sent him tumbling down the draft board before the Dolphins snatched him up at No. 13.
And then there was Ryan Lochte.
Oh, Ryan Lochte.
During a night out in Rio during the Olympics, he and some fellow swimmers were robbed at gunpoint by men posing as police. At least that’s what Lochte said initially. Apparently Lochte doesn’t realize that these days there are cameras literally EVERYWHERE.
Those cameras showed the truth: Lochte and his drunk pals trashed a gas station restroom and then were forced by armed security guards to pay for the damage. The lie landed the swimmers in hot water with Brazilian authorities and the United States Olympic Committee.
The peculiar sports news kept rolling in as recently as last week, when an investigation found that a Wake Forest football radio announcer — a former player and assistant coach at the school — had been slipping the Demon Deacons’ game plans to opponents.
It was a wild year, all right.
In fact, if there was ever a single sentence that could sum up how truly bizarre it was, it’s this: Odell Beckham Jr. proposed marriage to a kicking net.
The only way 2017 will be any more insane is if Beckham and his new bride welcome a bouncing blonde-tipped shoestring into the world.
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanchatelain