25 Most Overhyped Sports Stories of 2011
There are the biggest sports stories of 2011, and then there are the most overhyped stories of 2011; please note the very distinct difference between the two.
For example, one of the biggest sports stories of 2011 was the NBA lockout and whether or not we'd even have an NBA season at all. One of the biggest overhyped stories of 2011 was Kim Kardashian's marriage to an NBA player that turned out not to be a marriage at all.
Kim's rotund caboose and its marriage to Kris Humphries wasn't the only overhyped sports story of the year, there are no less than 24 other such stories.
Here they all are, ranked in order of absurdity.
25. Rory McIlroy: The Next Tiger Woods
I get that we're all desperate for the next Tiger Woods, but I thought after his epic collapse at the Masters in 2011, dubbing Rory McIlroy after his win at the U.S. Open in 2011 seemed a little premature.
McIlroy will finish 2011 ranked No. 3 in the world, but after winning just one major, he seemed all too eager to talk crap about Woods. Maybe he really will be the next big thing, but until he is…here's hoping he shuts the hell up.
24. Jets Sign Burress, Ultimately Shoot Themselves in the Thigh
Remember all the speculation about where wide receiver Plaxico Burress, fresh off a two-year incarceration, would land?
The Jets weren't in the discussion early on, but ultimately it felt like the perfect place for him. Plax has always been an overvalued receiver with a big mouth and a penchant for phoning it in every couple of games.
In short: More trouble than he's worth—kinda like Rex Ryan.
23. Chad Ochocinco Sucks at Football, Rules at Tweeting
In September 2011, Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco tweeted after a game, "Just waking up after a late arrival, I've never seen a machine operate Like that n person, to see video game numbers put up n person was WOW" (via Twitter).
For reasons unclear to me, people went insane over this. Sure, Ocho didn't contribute anything to the win, but he hadn't been contributing anything for months, so the feigned outrage seemed a little stupid. Well, it was feigned by everyone except former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who reacted to the tweet as though Ocho took his mother out to a nice steak dinner and then never called her again.
Much like Bruschi himself, the whole thing was beyond ridiculous. The funniest part of the whole thing was Bruschi publicly informing Ocho that he was "not an analyst" (via ESPN.com).
Somethings tells me irony is lost on meatballs like Bruschi.
The NHL doesn't get near enough coverage by the sports media, but for a couple of weeks early this summer, "Jagr Watch" was one of the biggest sports stories in the country. Although the fact that it got second billing to the NFL lockout (i.e., the NFL offseason) says something about both sports.
It seemed all eyes were on 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr as he traveled back to the U.S. to negotiate a contract for his NHL comeback. The drama was particularly palpable in Pittsburgh, where Penguins fans proved they were finally willing to forgive and forget all the unpleasantness left behind when Jagr skipped out on them a decade earlier.
When No. 68 decided to sign with the archrival Flyers, to say Pens fans didn't take it well would be an understatement. Why anyone cared about where a 10-years-past-his-prime Jagr signed to begin with is beyond me.
21. Stevie Johnson Has Some Fun, Media Has a Conniption
Without going into a big rant about it, let me just say that I have absolutely no idea why people are so opposed to a little end-zone celebration showmanship. I have a theory, that I hope is wrong, but I'm not convinced it is.
Every time someone has a little fun in the end zone, the inexplicable outrage shown by idiots like Joe Buck is just that—inexplicable. Remember Buck's reaction to then-Vikings receiver Randy Moss "mooning" the crowd at Green Bay in 2005? He called it a "disgusting act," (via ESPN.com) when the true "disgusting act" is that Joe Buck continues to be employed in sports broadcasting.
When Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson celebrated a touchdown against the Jets by pretending to shoot himself in the thigh, a'la Plaxico Burress, I thought it was hilarious. Johnson taking the penalty for the celebration and then going on to drop a number of potentially game-winning passes, that was less hilarious…unless you're a Jets fan.
20. LeBron and D-Wade "Diss" Dirk
The way people reacted to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade having a little fun teasing Dirk Nowtizki, you would have thought the pair of them really took it to the guy. If this had been any other two guys, on any other team, doing the exact same thing, this wouldn't have made national news, let alone become a topic of discussion on every sports program in the country.
What a difference a little LeBron makes, right?
Love him or hate him, LeBron has the unique ability to make almost anything a big story. When LeBron is doing almost anything, from dunking on kids to playing flag football, people are paying attention.
If people weren't already dying to see LeBron fail in the NBA Finals, most everyone outside of Miami was outraged by this little display.
19. Peyton Hills Gets Madden Cover, Promptly Fails
The Madden cover is always an overhyped story that nobody should care about—unless your team's star player receives the "honor."
In 2010, after two seasons of doing absolutely nothing, Browns running back Peyton Hillis came out of nowhere, racking up 1,177 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Honestly, running backs have fluke seasons more than almost any other position, so how he ended up on the Madden cover after one very good (not great) season is anybody's guess.
Whatever, though, it happened, and then this season happened. Something tells me Hillis believes in the "Madden curse."
18. The NFL "Lockout" That Really Wasn't
In 2011, the NFL "lockout" received around the clock coverage from the day after the Super Bowl to the day a deal was reached in late July.
Perhaps that's technically a "lockout," but since no playing time was missed, most years we just call it the NFL offseason.
Somehow the NFL managed to make itself the top story through MLB spring training, the NBA and NHL finals and clear through the MLB All-Star Game—impressive.
17. Albert Pujols Waits Seven Months to Stick It to Cards
In spring 2011, slugger Albert Pujols gave the Cardinals an ultimatum about his contract—get a deal done before the season or battle it out among the rest of the league after the season.
Some people thought he was serious, some people thought he was kinda serious and some people thought he was just screwing with them. All those people wanted to debate each other.
Well, it turned out Pujols was very serious and proved that instead of a heart, he's got a cash register, and instead of a brain, he's got a bottom line. Baseball generally makes me sick, and players like Pujols are one of the biggest reasons why.
Now don't freak out, he's earned his right to play wherever he wants, but that doesn't mean I have to like him.
16. Case Keenum and Houston Go Undefeated
In 2011, we learned why schools in non-BCS conferences don't get any love from the BCS: It's because they don't deserve it.
After beating a solid Georgia team early on, it seemed for a while like this might be the year that Boise State and Kellen Moore finally got their shot to prove all the naysayers wrong. And then they laid an egg against TCU.
Then attention shifted to an undefeated Houston team and their quarterback Case Keenum, who was putting up record numbers and even started to receive a little Heisman buzz. All they had to do was put the hurt on a lower-ranked Southern Miss team in the Conference USA championship. And then they lost 49-28.
These two teams proved that non-BCS schools are non-BCS for a reason, and it's time to end this silly discussion once and for all.
15. Gronk Lands a Porn Star
Oh jeez. Remember when Patriots super-stud tight end Rob Gronkowski spent his bye week with porn star Bibi Jones?
Surely it was a week that Gronk will never forget, but thanks to the overreaction of the Patriots and the overreporting of the non-story by the sports media, neither will we.
14. Ron Artest: "Call Me Mr. World Peace, Please"
When Chad Johnson changed his name to Chad Ochocinco, he was still scoring touchdowns and considered one of the better receivers in the game. Obviously having to call him "Ochocinco" was annoying and stupid, especially since it's not even the proper Spanish translation for 85, but we dealt with it.
Back when Ron Artest was really good at basketball, dealing with all of his peccadilloes seemed worthwhile. Now that he's only OK at basketball, it really doesn't. Remember when Artest first tried to change his name to Metta World Peace, but was prohibited due to unpaid tickets? We had all thought we dodged a bullet.
Well it turns out Artest isn't as scatterbrained as we had assumed; the dude paid his tickets, and in September 2011 was dubbed Metta World Peace by the state of California (via ESPN.com).
Lovely. And by "lovely," I mean "please God make it stop."
13. The NCAA Investigating Crap
When UCLA (6-7) lost to USC (10-2) by a score of 50-0 in November 2011, yet still won the Pac-12 South and clinched a bowl berth (thanks to the NCAA sanctions on USC), I was officially over the NCAA and its investigations.
In 2011 alone, the NCAA has been raining down crap on Ohio State, South Carolina, Auburn, Miami and USC. The system needs to be reevaluated because it's not working, and the investigations, especially the punishments, are arbitrary. I'm not saying that paying players or doing away with rules entirely is the answer, but something isn't working.
If we want to investigate something worthwhile, how about we investigate the root of the Cam Newton investigation (via USA Today), not the pay-for-play allegations since the NCAA found no evidence to substantiate the claims. The NCAA should investigate whether or not a certain former coach, who had nobody to replace Tim Tebow after Newton left Florida, was behind the scandal.
12. Brett Favre Might Answer His Phone for the Bears
After the Vikings abysmal performance in 2010, Brett Favre mercifully announced his retirement (again) in January 2011. Sure there was plenty of speculation that he would return, since it wouldn't be the first time No. 4 lied about retirement.
All the speculation remained relatively…speculative…until December, when a "source familiar with the quarterback" claimed that Favre would be willing to listen to the Bears if they reached out to him (via ESPN.com). The national sports media, desperate for their Favre fix, attacked the report liked a pack of starved dogs who were thrown a juicy steak.
Too bad the whole thing was crap. Seriously, a "source familiar with the quarterback," is now a reliable source? I'm familiar with the quarterback, does that make me a source? Sure I'm familiar with the fact that he's old, he's annoying, he's pretty gross and he's about six years past his prime. But that sounds like the same thing to me.
11. Harbaugh Shakes Hand, Schwartz Loses His Mind
The handshake that launched a full week worth of needlessly repetitive conversation and epically stupid debate.
Here's what I saw: an overzealous Jim Harbaugh capped a too-firm handshake with a too-hard back slap, and an oversensitive Jim Schwartz reacted with an overblown confrontation. Then they both walked away.
Here's what the media saw: Armageddon.
Get the hell over it people; it's football, not soccer.
10. Sucking for Luck
I vaguely remember being pretty excited about some kid named "Luck" out of Stanford in 2010. After all, he was the only "can't miss" draft prospect since Stanford alum John Elway, which is probably why he was dubbed "the next John Elway" (via SB Nation). Those were the days.
Today I'm sick of hearing about the possibility of teams "sucking for Luck" and the endless speculation of where the two-time Heisman runner-up will land. I legitimately couldn't give a crap.
Maybe sharing the spotlight with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III will actually help Luck in the long run, but right now, it seems like Luck is the dude at the party who you loved earlier in the night but becomes increasingly more irritating with each passing drink.
Let's just hope he doesn't go back to Stanford for another year, otherwise he'll be the pantsless dude with a lampshade on his head, throwing up on the front lawn.
9. Phillies Pitching: Best Rotation Ever?
When the Phillies landed Cliff Lee in December 2010, everyone was wondering if their pitching rotation was the best ever. It was debated and discussed for a full six months, which was fine because it was a pretty big deal overall.
Or at least it would have been, had the Phillies not managed to suffer an eight-game losing streak in September before losing to the Cardinals in the N.L. Division Series in five games.
Who cares if a pitching rotation is the best ever when the rest of the team loses in the first round of the playoffs?
8. Eli Manning Says He's Elite, Nation Disagrees
In August 2011, Giants quarterback Eli Manning was asked where he thinks he ranks among the league's top QBs, and he had the nerve to suggest he belongs in the discussion with Tom Brady (via Sports Illustrated) Naturally the whole of the sports media let out a collective "WTF!"
His response has been debated ad nauseum ever since, often with mocking undertones. My question is and always has been: What the heck else was he supposed to say? Dude answered the question like any starting quarterback in the NFL should.
7. The Dream Team's Nightmare
In July 2011, newly signed backup quarterback Vince Young made one of many mistakes in his career when he dubbed the free-agent-loaded Eagles, the "Dream Team" (via Yahoo! Sports). Young probably wished he could have taken the statement back then, and he definitely wishes he could take it back now.
The Eagles were going to attract plenty of attention either way, but when the Eagles struggled and stumbled early on, it was that off-the-cuff remark that provided fodder for an entire season worth of scrutiny and, ultimately, mockery.
6. Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter is about as likable a guy as there is in baseball, and the fact that he maintains his likability playing for the Yankees, makes it all the more impressive. But it's no secret his production is declining, and for a split second in fall 2010, it didn't seem inevitable that the Yankees were going to pony up the money to re-sign the face of their franchise.
Which is why the excessive media coverage The Jeet (yes, I created this nickname myself) received in 2011 seemed, well, excessive. His contract negotiation, his on-again-off-again romance with actress Minka Kelly, his unending injuries, his oversized tacky mega-mansion in Tampa and his habit of sending home his one night stands with gift baskets stocked with memorabilia, were all cogs in the 24/7 Jeet media circus.
The only Jeter event deserving of the media coverage it received was his 3,000th hit in July 2011.
5. LeBron Pretends He Isn't Afraid to Play Football
Like I always say: If LeBron James announced he was going to the bathroom, people would show up to cover the event. So naturally when LeBron had a little lockout fun with super hilarious jokester (sarcasm) Pete Carroll about signing with the Seahawks, the sports media were on the story like white on rice (via SB Nation).
We were treated to a week's worth of speculative discussion about whether or not LeBron, who OMG FYI was an all-state receiver in high school, could hack it in the NFL. Oh, and what position he would play if he were to play in the NFL (tight end seemed to be the natural choice).
As if this were a serious inquiry to begin with, which it wasn't. LeBron may be a villain, but he thinks of himself as more of a likable jokester, and so does hokey goofball Pete Carroll. The whole thing was a joke and the media coverage of it as a serious event was an even bigger joke.
4. Urban Meyer Decides to Spend More Time with Football
Unless we're talking about what a two-faced snake Urban Meyer is, we shouldn't be talking about him at all. The only major accomplishment in his "illustrious" career was landing Tim Tebow, a top recruit from one town away. We saw what the Gators did (after Steve Spurrier) before Tebow, and now we've seen what they've managed after Tebow.
Tim Tebow seems to think his career was built on the back of Urban Meyer, when in reality, it's the other way around. The bottom fell out on Meyer when Tebow left, and his response was to try to bring down the Auburn program that landed his defected recruit Cam Newton. When that failed, he retired due to health concerns and/or to spend more time with his family.
Turns out his health was fine and/or his family is boring, because less than a year later he accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State.
3. Kim Kardashian Ends Her Sham Marriage
Kim Kardashian's sham marriage to "Brooklyn" Nets forward Kris Humphries lasted exactly 72 days.
The 21-karat engagement ring was valued at $2 million. The cost of the wedding was approximately $10 million. The cost of Kim's wedding earrings were $5 million. The cost of Kim's wedding headpiece was $2.5 million.
The price People magazine paid for the wedding photos was $2.5 million. The total profit Kim and Kris raked in for the charade was $18 million (via The Hollywood Reporter).
Other relevant numbers: The average cost of the first three months of marriage counseling is $1,200. The GDP of the island nation of Niue is $10 million. The average yearly salary in Albania is $3,984. And the cost of the cubic zirconia replicas of Kim's earrings is $48. (Thanks Jezebel.com!)
Although, like Mastercard commercials say: Kim Kardashian finally doing something heinous enough to potentially carry her and her big ass out of the public eye forever...priceless.
2. Kim Kardashian's Sham Wedding
The only thing more preposterous than the media coverage of Kim Kardashian's divorce from "Brooklyn" Nets forward Kris Humphries was the coverage of Kim Kardashian's wedding to "Brooklyn" Nets forward Kris Humphries.
If you watched this whole charade and were genuinely convinced you were in the presence of true love, please do us all a favor and have yourself evaluated by a mental health professional immediately.
1. Tebow Time
This needs no explanation. Whether you like him or not, Tim Tebow is the most overexposed athlete on the planet.
The horrifying ESPN rap plucked from the normally hateful mouth of Skip Bayless was the absolute last straw.
Tim Tebow better start just winning ballgames again in 2012, or the entire nation will revolt.