2. Sandusky scandal brings down Paterno
Who would have ever thought that Joe Paterno would completely lose his once pristine reputation in over a football scandal at Penn State that involved a cover-up of child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky?
The once winningest coach in college football history is no longer the winningest, and he died before he had to face this fact. (Paterno had more than 100 wins taken from him and the school by the NCAA).
Jerry Sandusky took children onto the Penn State campus and molested them repeatedly. He did so off campus as well. And it was discovered in 2011 that for decades Sandusky likely did this under the nose of head coach Paterno, who was most known for his supposed integrity and ability to coach the “right way” by following the rules and having esteemed ethics.
The story has involved a trial, a cover-up, many victims, and both sadness and vilification for one of America’s sports legends…who fell completely off the pedestal and into the mud of sports history. Paterno’s statue came down and his community was left devastated.
It was so hard to believe all of this because this was the greatest coach, the one who always did things the right way, and yet, as we now know…he had his faults. Nobody seemed to see them, but they were major faults that likely contributed to children being molested on the campus where he built his legend.
1. The O.J. trial
Once considered the greatest running back in the NFL, O.J. Simpson led the police on a low-speed chase after he (allegedly) murdered his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. O.J. was found not guilty in a 1995 criminal trial, but later found guilty in a civil suit.
The criminal trial was the Trial Of The Century for many media outlets. It was so popular because O.J. was so popular.
After his successful career in the NFL, he did lots of acting, commercials, hosting on sports shows, and appearances on talk shows. He was a major celebrity and a major figure in popular culture, appealing to a variety of races and ethnic groups.
Essentially, it would figure that he had everything any person could want…but this was far from the truth.
O.J. proved to be a jealous man with low self-esteem who wanted to control others. Eventually, he got caught up in a Las Vegas robbery and now sits in a prison cell in Nevada.
It is hard to compare any sports news story to the O.J. story, but Penn State has come close this year.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in on which story you think has been the most surreal:
There have been many other popular surreal sports news stories over recent history, including the Bobby Petrino and Ozzie Guillen stories from this year. The rape cases of Mike Tyson and Kobe Bryant were also big stories to cross over from sports to news.
Michael Vick doing hard time for sponsoring a dog-fighting ring may well deserve consideration for this list as well.
Vick was at the top of his profession as an NFL quarterback when he got busted for organizing a dog fighting ring. Among many gory details, dead dogs were found hanging from limbs of trees.
According to many in the media, and large amounts of citizens across the country, he had lost all sense of right and wrong. Adding to the shock was the dog element because America is such a dog-loving country.
What stories are not included above that you think should be?
What do you think is the most surreal sports news story of the last 25 years?
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com