The ball dropped, champagne was uncorked and tens of millions of people around the world just rang in the New Year with a kiss (some unsolicited). Now that the party is over and that headache is slowly transforming from a pounding throb to a dull ache, we can all take a step back and evaluate the year that passed and make plans for the one that lies ahead.
Yes, it’s 2013 and time to make New Year’s resolutions—maybe a few of them won't survive the entire 12 months, but it makes us feel like better human beings if we make the effort to change for the better and live life to its fullest.
For the biggest stars in sports, the next year can be a wildly successful one or an utter disaster, or somewhere in between. And while you and I may resolve to cut up that credit card or cut the vodka intake in half in 2013, an athlete’s life and career are measured by multimillion dollar contracts and championships.
So, I’ve rounded up some of the biggest names in sports, put myself in their shoes and came up with New Year's resolutions that would make the next year one to remember.
New Year's Resolution: Keep Turning People into Believers
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson may have come up nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, but considering that he was so close after suffering a gruesome knee injury last season, there is little doubt that the record is tenuous for the foreseeable future.
Peterson once again proved that he is a different kind of human being—a creature who shrugs off torn ligaments and returns to the field with a vengeance. If he wants to convert doubters into believers, his job just got a lot easier.
New Year's Resolution: Get PAID
In July 2012, Clippers superstar point guard Chris Paul did something that most of us can't even dream of doing: He turned down $60 million. Notoriously stingy owner Donald Sterling offered Paul the max extension to his current deal, which would have paid him $20 million over three years.
Obviously, CP3 has had his eye on the free agency pie for a few years and seems eager to see what price his skills would demand on the open market. Paul resolves to get paid in 2013...and get paid, he will.
New Year's Resolution: Hire a PR Firm and a Divorce Lawyer
It's only a matter of time before soccer star Hope Solo comes to terms with the mistakes she made in 2012. Overall, the year wasn't half bad for Solo, but it was mired by a few critical miscues.
Most notably was the Twitter tirade she launched against former teammate Brandi Chastain during the London Olympics. Solo was unapologetic about her venom.
Another head-scratcher was her quickie marriage to former NFL tight end, and noted criminal, Jerramy Stevens. The pair had only been dating for a few weeks prior to the nuptials and were married one day after Solo had Stevens arrested for domestic violence.
New Year's Resolution: Lose the Soul Patch...Finally
Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett has been rocking his ridiculous soul patch for the greater part of a decade. Sometimes the soul patch flies solo and sometimes Beckett grows a scuzzy chin beard to keep it company.
Beckett is already impaired in the likability department, and the soul patch does absolutely nothing to dispel rumblings and rumors of his douchebaggery. It's time to make a clean break, dude.
New Year's Resolution: Earn My Paycheck
With three years and $65 million left on his bloated contract, Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire is the most expensive piece of dead weight in the NBA. He's got bum knees and can't seem to make it work with Carmelo Anthony, which is why the Knicks reportedly tried to unload him in the offseason.
Whether or not he stays in New York for the duration of his contract, Stoudemire needs to start earning his ginormous paycheck.
New Year's Resolution: Continue Living in Denial
This is gonna sting for Cowboys fans, but larger than life owner Jerry Jones is going to remain the general manager—no matter how many fans sign the White House petition to remove him! Despite winning just two playoff games since their Super Bowl appearance in 1995, Jones will only surrender the GM role when you pry it from his cold, dead hands.
He's has almost two decades of failure that suggest he is in over his head and that he simply cannot adjust to the NFL in the post-salary cap era. But Jones remains steadfast in his state of denial, insisting, "We've had success doing it this way and we're going to have success in the future doing it this way." Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, folks.
New Year's Resolution: Have a Serious Talk With My Sister
Packers wideout Greg Jennings has been thwarted by injury over the last two seasons, which has fueled speculation that he might not be returning to Green Bay for the 2013 season. Seems like a simple business decision, but apparently Jennings' sister, Valyncia, has an ax to grind with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Valyncia took to Twitter during the Packers Week 17 loss to the Vikings to rage tweet about Rodgers and his supposed lack of quarterbacking abilities. Jennings needs to sit down with sis and ask her who she thinks she's serving with her insane Twitter tirade. Misdirected family hostility isn't going to increase his value in a contract year.
New Year's Resolution: Take It Down a Notch
Nationals rookie sensation Bryce Harper landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16. In the feature, he was described as "more advanced" for his age than Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was at the same age. So you can understand why the kid might have an inflated sense of self.
Harper rubbed a few people the wrong way during the 2012 season and had high-profile run-ins with Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels and former Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. He also rubbed me the wrong way when he applied for a trademark on his famous "clown question" remark.
Bryce, you're gonna be rich as hell, can't you just play it cool? At least for a couple of years.
New Year's Resolution: Dethrone LeBron
Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant actually had one hell of a year in 2012. He led the Thunder to the NBA Finals and he won gold as a member of the U.S. men's basketball team at the London Olympics—setting a new scoring record in the process.
But just imagine how good Durant's year would have been in a world without LeBron James. Maybe he'd have his first championship, a Christmas Day victory over the Heat and Sportsman of the Year honors.
Durant plays second fiddle to no man and resolves to dethrone the King in 2013.
New Year's Resolution: Get My Mojo Back
The Giants may have won the World Series in 2012, but they didn't get much help from two-time Cy Young award winning pitcher Tim Lincecum over the course of the season. Big Time Timmy Jim posted an ERA of 5.18 on the season and was relegated to a relief roll in the playoffs.
His poor performance, and the fact that he's set to become a free agent in 2013, have led to speculation that the Giants might try to unload Lincecum in the offseason. Be it in San Francisco or elsewhere, Lincecum is no doubt resolved to get his mojo back this season.
New Year's Resolution: Forgive and Forget
Everyone in the world knew that Tim Tebow's jaunt with the Jets was going to end in disaster. Well…everyone except Tim Tebow. The former Bronco was so excited to join Gang Green that he said some variation of the word "excite" no less than 44 times during a press conference in March 2012.
Unfortunately, Tebow's time in New York didn't go as well as he had hoped. The Jets didn't make the playoffs, Tebow got next to no playing time and the strained relationship between him and coach Rex Ryan became very evident by the end of the season.
Tebow will not be a Jet in 2013, but you know he won't hold a grudge.
New Year's Resolution: Keep Swimming in the Spotlight
Have you ever seen anyone more at home in the media spotlight than American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte? After years of swimming in the sizable shadow of one Michael Phelps, Lochte has happily basked in the glow of the spotlight offered to him.
Whether or not Phelps decides to renege on his retirement assertions, Lochte has already staked his claim on the public consciousness, and there's absolutely no way he's going to give it up.
New Year's Resolution: Get Back in the Game
Jon Gruden has been working as an analyst for ESPN since being fired by the Buccaneers after the 2008 season. Gruden has said that he doesn't plan to leave the network and seems genuinely happy in his role there, but there's no question that he's dying to get back into the game.
There are going to be no less than seven coaching positions up for grabs in 2013, and Gruden has already said that he would be willing to discuss the opportunities, should anyone inquire about his services. ESPN should start their search for a Monday Night Football color man right now—this guy is as good as gone.
New Year's Resolution: Make a Commitment
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has dated his fair share of women over the years. In fact, he's dated a lot of people's share of women. But he has settled into domesticity with Russian model Irina Shayk, who he's been dating since May 2010.
This relationship seems to be the real deal, which is why Ronaldo is most likely going to put a ring on it in 2013.
New Year's Resolution: Stop the Streak!
After another summer tease, the Pirates officially closed the books on their 20th consecutive losing season in 2012. But, unlike past years, fans in Pittsburgh finally have a reason to be hopeful about the future: Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen is a promising young talent who has been named an NL All-Star the last two seasons. The Pirates signed Cutch to a six-year, $51.5 million contract in March of 2012, and he will return the favor by helping them end their dubious streak in 2013.
New Year's Resolution: Stop Hitting on Chicks During Playoff Games
Yankees slugger/salary albatross Alex Rodriguez has largely failed to live up to expectations. The absurdity of his price compared to his production reached a whole new level during the 2012 MLB playoffs.
The fact that a guy who’s paid $23 million to hit baseballs is better off riding the pine than taking swings at the plate is bad enough, but his highly publicized flirtation with two female fans was pure sadism. A-Rod isn’t going anywhere (as of now), so he should vow to work on making headlines for what he does at the plate in 2013, rather than for his creepy pick-up stunts.
New Year's Resolution: No More Purple
In June 2012, Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin requested a trade from the team that had drafted him out of Florida. That request was denied.
What followed was a season-long skirmish with Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who finally put Harvin on injured reserve after a "heated exchange" in December.
Harvin's bad behavior has seemingly paid off: His request will likely be granted in 2013.
New Year's Resolution: Pull an Adrian Peterson
Bulls superstar point guard Derrick Rose suffered a devastating knee injury that ended his season, and Chicago's playoff run, prematurely in 2012. Rose tore his ACL during a game against the 76ers and required immediate surgery. The injury has kept him out through the entire year, and he has only recently made a non-contact return to practice.
There is no timetable set for Rose's return to the court, but initial estimates suggested the injury could keep him out anywhere from eight to 12 months. Whenever he does return, though, expect him to draw inspiration from the epic comeback of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who emerged bigger and badder from the same knee injury.
New Year's Resolution: Take a Disney Vacation
When Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos before the 2012 NFL season, no one knew what to expect from the 36-year-old quarterback. He is without question one of the greatest to ever play at the position, but the mystery surrounding his persistent neck injury and long-term health led many to question how effective he could be.
At 13-3, the No. 1-seeded Broncos could be on their way to the Super Bowl, and if Manning gets that second ring, it would represent a shocking turnaround for the star. Just over a year ago, few could have imagined Manning in any colors but blue and white—if 2013 becomes the year he “goes to Disneyland,” it will be a monumental achievement.
New Year's Resolution: Less Jokes, More Winning
The comedic stylings of Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki have gotten her into some trouble in the last two years. Her first performance came at the 2011 U.S. Open, where she came under fire for mocking a melodramatic Rafael Nadal. More recently, in December 2012, Wozniacki's clothes-stuffing impression of Serena Williams was deemed racist by some in the media.
It's clear that there was no malice behind the jokes, but sometimes humor just doesn't translate properly. In 2013, Wozniacki needs to put the comedy career on hold and focus on tennis if she wants this to be the year that she wins her first Grand Slam.
New Year's Resolution: Stop the Drops
Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace’s pro career started inauspiciously enough when he was taken 84th overall in the 2009 NFL draft. However, the Ole Miss product quickly showed that he wasn’t just a guy who can run really, really fast—Wallace was timed in the 40 at 4.33—becoming one of the most dangerously reliable big-play threats over the first three years of his career.
As it so often happens, his value on the field outpaced the value of his rookie contract, and Wallace held out of training camp in 2012 in hopes of scoring “Larry Fitzgerald money.”
Well, no one gave him the payday he was looking for, and he caught a severe case of Droppsis Passititas. Wallace’s sudden tendency to let the ball slip through his fingers at the worst possible times likely shaved a cool mil or two off his free agency price tag.
New Year's Resolution: End. The. Drought.
In 2012, golf legend Tiger Woods seemed to get his career back on track with a couple of tour victories. Unfortunately, he was unable to win any Majors. Not that anyone is counting (just kidding, everyone is counting), but as of New Years Eve, the drought had stretched 1,659 days and counting.
Woods showed some signs of life last year and proved that he still has what it takes to compete and win. His steely gaze is fixed on just one goal in 2012: winning a major, ending the drought.
New Year's Resolution: Stop Being a Twitter Tease
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has been a Twitter tease dating all the way back to September 2011 when he briefly joined Twitter and then mysteriously disappeared. A "source" told ESPN that Bryant "m]ay have jumped the gun" on creating the account and that he would return someday after familiarizing himself with the site.
Well, it's been 15 months, and it seems Bryant is only familiar enough with the site to handle tweeting in three-day increments. He took over the @nikebasketball account for three days over Christmas and, while he enjoyed hearing from fans, Bryant remained non-committal about his future on Twitter.
Translation: Tell me I'm pretty and maybe I'll someday grace you with my presence on Twitter…or maybe I won't...you'll just have to keep begging and see!
New Year's Resolution: Cherish the Bromance...While it Lasts
Since he was signed by the Patriots in 2007, do-it-all receiver Wes Welker has made some beautiful music with Tom Brady. Welker has been Brady’s favorite and most effective target, and just wrapped up his second consecutive 100-plus catch, 1,000-plus yard season.
Brady should savor the moment—one that could culminate in their first Super Bowl victory together—because Welker is probably going to get the business end of the “Patriot Way” in the offseason.
Welker briefly entertained holding out for a long-term deal after last season, but signed the one-year, $9.5 million franchise tender instead. He could still be a Patriot after all is said and done, but Brady is facing the very real possibility that his bromance could be setting sail for more lucrative waters.
New Year's Resolution: Wash, Rinse and Repeat 2012
Nobody in sports had a better 2012 than Heat superstar LeBron James. Over the last year, James has won his first NBA Championship, his third MVP, a gold medal as a member of the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team and he was named the Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated.
LeBron has but just one resolution for 2013: Stay the course.