The NFL: 2008 in Review
It's been a wild year in the NFL, with undefeated teams being defeated, young players becoming stars, and old dogs learning new playbooks (of course it's Brett Favre—who else could I mean with that comment?).
But we can all agree on one thing: It's been great.
Since it's nearly over, I wanted to show it to you again, through photos, to help you relive those moments and maybe make you smile or cry, depending on the situation.
So sit back, grab a cup of something to drink, and get ready to enjoy the NFL as it was in 2008.
Without further ado, we present...The NFL: 2008 in Review.
The AFC Championship Game
With Tom Brady coming off of a game where he only threw two incomplete
passes, the undefeated Patriots were picked to win this one.
They didn't disappoint anyone who bet on them.
The Pats played just downright bad and still held the Chargers to only field goals. The final score was 21-12, and New England was awaiting their next opponent, the winner of the NFC Championship Game.
One more win was all they needed to become the first ever 19-0 team and Super Bowl champions for the fourth time in less than 10 years.
The NFC Championship Game
It was a close game, right down to the end. In the fourth quarter, Green Bay Packers' quarterback Brett Favre threw the football, not for a touchdown, but right to New York Giants' defender R.W. McQuarters for an easy interception.
However, McQuarters fumbled the ball and a Packers player covered it up.
The drive ended with a field goal for the Packers. The score was now tied, 20-20.
Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a 43-yard field goal earlier in the quarter. His attempt at a 36-yard field goal in the remaining seconds of the fourth was unsuccessful, too.
The teams headed for overtime, the Packers won the toss, and Giants defenders were instantly remembering the bomb that Favre had thrown to receiver Greg Jennings on the first play of overtime in a game against the Denver Broncos earlier that season.
The ball was caught, but by Corey Webster, a Giants defender. Tynes later kicked a 47-yard field goal to send the Giants to Scottsdale, AZ to meet the 18-0 New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
It was one of the best Super Bowl plays, if not the best ever.
Eli Manning, appearing to be in deep trouble, spun away from Patriot defenders and scrambled around and threw the ball to David Tyree. Tyree leaped and caught the ball against his helmet, with Rodney Harrison draped all over his back.
With only a few seconds left, Manning threw a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, putting the Giants ahead. Tom Brady and Randy Moss couldn't hook up on a long pass, and the Giants went on to defeat the undefeated Patriots and win the Super Bowl.
With his brother Peyton winning the Super Bowl the year before, it was truly surreal for Eli to win his first Super Bowl. He was named MVP, just as his brother was.
The Brett Favre Saga (Part I)
Just weeks after losing to the Giants in the playoffs, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre announced in a tearful press conference that he was hanging his cleats up for good.
Packers fans were saddened, but many thought that it was time for Aaron Rodgers to get a chance. It was a bittersweet time for Cheeseheads.
The 2008 NFL Draft
Unlike drafts of years past, no surprises really happened in this draft. A Brady Quinn didn't sit around waiting, a Reggie Bush wasn't passed on—everything happened according to plan.
Jake Long of Michigan had been signed by the Miami Dolphins before the draft, so obviously he was going to be the first pick, Chris Long was the second pick, Matt Ryan went to the Falcons as the third pick, Darren McFadden was Raider land-bound, and Glenn Dorsey went to the home of the Chiefs to round out the top five picks.
The Brett Favre Saga (Part II)
It wasn't long before Brett was ready to come back, but there was one problem: The Packers were committed to Aaron Rodgers and would only use Brett as a backup, so he asked to be traded or released.
He was then traded to the New York Jets, where he was welcomed with open arms. Former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington went down to Miami to be a Dolphin, and everybody was happy.
Packers fans became Jets fans too, Miami got a quarterback, the Jets became a contender once again, and Aaron Rodgers got to start.
Gene Upshaw: R.I.P.
Gene Upshaw was a gaurd with the Oakland Raiders for 14 year, and later he was the head of the NFL Players Union. With his union preparing for another contract negotiation with owners, Upshaw died at age 63 of pancreatic cancer.
His death stunned the NFL because almost nobody knew he had been ill.
Upshaw had appeared so gaunt at the recent Hall of Fame induction ceremony that some of those who saw him worried about his health. Upshaw was found to have cancer only about a week earlier, when his wife took him to the hospital while the family was on vacation.
Upshaw was honored with the football fields having a black patch painted on them with "G.U. 63" (his jersey number) on them. The players of the NFL wore patches with the same design, but they were later replaced by decals on the helmets of the players.
Tom Brady: M.I.A.
It was the last time that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would walk off of the field in 2008. Only minutes earlier, Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard had hit Brady right in the knee, ending the Pats quarterback's season.
Brady had thrown 50 touchdown passes and been named the MVP of the league the season before and his loss caused many to sound the funeral bells for the Patriots season since they now had to rely on Matt Cassel.
Cassel hadn't started a game since high school in 1999, but he did an okay job and the Patriots were soon looking at the playoffs.
The Detroit Lions: A Growling Disappointment
The Detroit Lions were quickly becoming the Miami Dolphins of the year before. But the difference was, Miami won a game, Detroit hadn't and still hasn't. With the automakers' woes befalling the city, many wanted to look to their team to take their mind off of their troubles.
If anything, the Lions only added to their fans' troubles.
The Scandal of the Season: WaterPillGate
Last year it was Spygate, now it's WaterPillGate. The Saints' Deuce McAllister, Will Smith, and Charles Grant all failed drug testing conducted by the NFL as did Texans long snapper Bryan Pittman and the Williamses (Viking defensive players).
The players sued the NFL after being suspended and the suspensions were revoked soon after.
Rookie Oof the Year?
Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Falcons and soon he was their starter. The team suffering from the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal really needed a new face to their franchise.
Ryan was that face.
In my book, Ryan is the rookie of the year; no one else has even came close to his performance.
Give a WR a Gun
In just a few months, New York Giants' wide receiver Plaxico Burress went from being a Super Bowl hero to a New York jailbird. Burress, who caught the Super Bowl's winning touchdown pass, accidentally shot himself with a gun that he wasn't supposed to have. If convicted, Burress could face up to three years in jail.
You can say that Kurt Warner deserves it more, but that's alright, its all a matter of opinion, but Saints' quarterback Drew Brees is the MVP in my mind. Brees has thrown for over 4,000 yards this season and is on track to break Dan Marino's record for most yards in a single season: Drew Brees for MVP.
The Ultimate Prize
When '08 is finished and done
And all of the games are lost and won
Some will stand
In playoff land
Others will stay
At home far away
Wishing that they had won a few more
And made their way through that playoff door
Wishing for a chance to play for the prize
Instead of walking around town in disguise
Wishing for a chance to win the ultimate prize
And hoist the trophy and be heroes in their fan's eyes