The year that was

Years in columns with Wetzel: 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

USC rang it in – with some thunder – and with that we probably should have known 2005 was going to be a great year in sports. From New England to North Carolina to San Antonio to Chicago to Lance and on and on and on, there were championship efforts and huge stories.

It was a year when a woman almost won the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Colts almost didn't lose (at least in the fall part of the calendar).

There was controversy, of course. Terrell Owens never stopped making headlines or forcing ESPN to go all Eagles all the time, David Stern instituted an age minimum and a dress code and the NHL finally returned, although how many still cared remains to be seen.

Balco Barry returned to almost pass the Babe, while Johnny Damon just made out of town like the Bambino. Meanwhile, a hurricane made us wonder what the future is for sports in New Orleans.

But for all the talk of "me" and all the antics and angles, it was a year ruled by the team – the New England Patriots, the San Antonio Spurs, the Chicago White Sox – proving once again that in sports it may not pay (as much) to play together, but the champagne sure still tastes sweet.

As the national columnist for Yahoo! Sports, I got to witness and write about almost all of these things, among others, proving once again that, while this is certainly a job, it isn't work.

Listed below are some of my favorite stories and topics from the great year of 2005. Now, while I get to cover almost everything, that isn't the same as everything. Below are the choices of my favorite things of '05, not some comprehensive list of the greatest things. So spare me some emails about the WNBA title or some such thing.

Meanwhile, have a great and safe New Year. We'll check in from Los Angeles, where, lo and behold, USC is still dominant. The more things change …


On the way up January 4, 2005
MIAMI – USC's 55-19 pounding of Oklahoma is just the latest example of a juggernaut that seems to be gaining speed.

Bird lovers January 24, 2005
PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles didn't wind up winning the Super Bowl, but the ride they took their long-suffering and extremely colorful fans on was memorable.


Sex, drugs … and football? February 5, 2005
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The incredible Patriots won for the third time in four years, but a lot of the focus surrounding the Super Bowl was on the NFL's unique relationship between crass commercialism and cranky conservatives.

And so it ends February 16, 2005
Gary Bettman, the worst executive in the history of sports, teamed up with the equally egotistical Bob Goodenow to kill the NHL season.


A presence April 5, 2005
ST. LOUIS – Twenty-nine years after his father did it, birthday boy Sean May won a national championship.


Foxes in the henhouse May 10, 2005
The NCAA did all sorts of corrupt things in 2005. Of course, that is no surprise if you look at the membership of its chief legislative body.

On thin ice May 31, 2005
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The most impressive accomplishment of Larry Brown's long career was when he managed to be booed by his own fans. Turns out, LB was right. He wasn't going to Cleveland. He was going to New York.


Mass appeal June 9, 2005
ARLINGTON, Texas – Two weeks after almost winning the Indianapolis 500, Danicamania was in full effect as some would-be Romeos took their shot.

Most Valuable Team June 24, 2005
SAN ANTONIO – Critics of the NBA say the sport lacks team play. Then the Spurs outlasted the Pistons to win it all (again).


The hero of hope July 24, 2005
Lance Armstrong's string of Tour de France titles is amazing, but his relentless fight against cancer is even more remarkable.


Back where he belongs September 1, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Steve Spurrier has returned to being a wise-cracking ole ball coach, this time at South Carolina, and college football was better for it.

Calling a T.O. for N.O. September 4, 2005
Saints owner Tom Benson and the NFL should give New Orleans time to recover before pressing the city about stadium plans.


Calling them out October 12, 2005
CHICAGO – The umpires deserve blame for blowing a strike-three call that helped the White Sox even the ALCS.

The Wizards of Ozzie October 26, 2005
HOUSTON – The White Sox won the World Series by embodying the spirit of their magical manager, Ozzie Guillen.