Over the last four years, the emotional roller coaster that is the sporting universe subjected its fans to unthinkable tragedy, intense shock, and unbridled jubilation, sometimes within the same week. In an arena wherein the unexpected becomes commonplace, backup quarterbacks beating out Hall of Famers and dynasties using illicit means to cheat are simply par for the course.
These 12 stories defied all logic and common sense when they happened, and they still leave legions of sports fans completely puzzled as to how they transpired.
12. Vontae Davis Retires at Halftime
In terms of pure weirdness, this one might need to go higher. Davis, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback with the Dolphins and Colts, didn't retire AFTER the Buffalo Bills' Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He retired DURING it, as he just left at halftime, leaving his equipment in the locker room after stating that he was "done." Davis was a former first-round pick who played 10 years and intercepted 22 passes, but a large portion of young fans will remember him as the guy who quit in the middle of a game.
11. Andy Ruiz Knocks Out Anthony Joshua
Andy Ruiz's parents probably didn't see this one coming. Anthony Joshua was on top of the world before his fight against Ruiz in Madison Square Garden, as the British heavyweight was built like a Greek god and on track to rise right to the top of the heavyweight rankings. Ruiz surprised Joshua by withstanding his opening salvo, eventually stopping him in the seventh round and leaving Joshua stans around the globe stunned. Joshua got his revenge, however, as he demolished Ruiz in Saudi Arabia.
10. Andrew Luck's Retirement
Luck seemed to be on track to finally assert himself as one of the league's kings. The golden boy quarterback prospect was coming off of the best season of his career, as he threw 39 touchdowns under Frank Reich while leading the Indianapolis Colts to a road playoff win. Unfortunately, the beating he took behind awful Ryan Grigson offensive lines took their toll on him, and Luck retired just a few weeks before the 2019 season was slated to start. We've seen quarterbacks walk away from football in their prime, but not when they're 29 and just about to start the regular season.
9. Scott Foster's 15 Minutes of Fame
This story comes straight out of a made for TV movie. Foster is an accountant and beer league legend that signed for the Chicago Blackhawks as an emergency goalkeeper with no intention of getting on the ice. As fate would have it, Foster entered a game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and he was nothing short of dominant, saving seven shots and preserving a 6-2 win. Foster hasn't played an NHL game since, but he is forever a Blackhawks legend due to that one game.
8. Tua Tagovailoa Comes in at Halftime, Wins a National Championship
Before we knew Tagovailoa would be a Heisman contender and eventual No. 5 overall pick, he was an unknown backup who took over the QB1 role after Georgia's defense stymied Jalen Hurts in the first half of the 2018 National Championship. Tagovailoa completed just 14 passes, but he ran for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and overtime, winning the title with an overtime bomb to Devonta Smith. The guts it took for Saban to not only put Tua in that game, but trust him to take over, is off the charts.
7. Kawhi Leonard Comes, Sees, Conquers
Leonard was the closest thing to a mercenary in the 2018-19 season. Despite every sign pointing to the fact Leonard was destined for LA as a free agent, the Toronto Raptors blew up their whole roster to acquire Leonard in the pursuit of a title in 2019. After knocking Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the playoffs, Toronto took down an ailing Golden State Warriors team to win the series in six games and bring the franchise their first championship in 25 years. He was only in Toronto for one season, but Kawhi will never pay for a drink north of the border again.
6. The Rams/Saints Pass Interference Fiasco
Not only was the immediate action bizarre, but the way the league reacted was even more incendiary. The New Orleans Saints were denied a spot in the Super Bowl after the referees missed a blatant pass interference on the part of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, and the subsequent offseason overreaction led to all pass interference calls being reviewable in 2019, an edict which was repealed after just one season. Not only was New Orleans robbed of a Super Bowl appearance, but it was all because of one of the biggest blown calls in history.
5. Nick Foles Beats Tom Brady
Nick Foles was playing with house money during the 2018 playoffs, but he rode his unprecedented hot streak into the Super Bowl, where he threw up 373 yards and led the Philadelphia Eagles to a stunning 41-33 upset of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. A guy who was traded for Sam Bradford and contemplated quitting football went toe to toe with Brady and Bill Belichick, coming out on top when the dust settled. Even though Foles fizzled out in Jacksonville and is now a Chicago Bear, he is forever remembered as a legend in Philadelphia for that magical night in Minnesota.
4. The Downfall of Antonio Brown
If we wrote this article a year ago, Antonio Brown would have been one of the best receivers in the last decade of football, if not the best, ready to start his journey with the Oakland Raiders. A year later, Brown froze his feet, almost retired due to his improper helmet, had rape and sexual assault accusations fly at him, fought with coaches in Oakland, and only lasted one week in New England. When he was finally arrested after assaulting a moving truck driver, Brown's story already dangerous story turned downright disheartening. In a year, AB went from an All-Pro to the most radioactive player in football.
3. The Houston Astros Sign Stealing Scandal
Not only did one of the best teams in baseball use a comical operation involving multiple cameras and trash can banging to steal signs and alert hitters of the incoming pitch, but they used that scheme to great effect, eventually winning two AL Pennants in the last three years while winning the 2017 World Series. While AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow got the axe, one of the most puzzling parts of this whole scandal was how the players somehow escaped any form of punishment. Whenever fans are allowed in the stands, you can bet that the Astros will bear the full brunt of all 29 other fanbases' anger, with every single one of those justified in ripping them.
2. UMBC Dominates Virginia
The age-old question was finally answered. A No. 16 seed can, in fact, beat a No. 1 seed, and they can do so in dominating fashion. Going up against Tony Bennett's Virginia, a team that was regarded as the best defensive team in the country and a March Madness favorite, Ryan Odom and America East champions UMBC not only beat the Cavaliers, they destroyed them. The Retrievers rained threes down on Virginia in a blowout 74-54 win. The Cavaliers got the last laugh, however, as they would beat Texas Tech and win the national championship in 2019.
1. The Coronavirus Pandemic Shuts Everything Down
We've seen delays in North American sports before. We've seen strikes and postponements due to major societal events outside of the sports bubble. What we haven't seen is EVERYTHING get shut down for months on end with seemingly no end in sight. While some might complain that they lost their main form of entertainment, the fact that this virus is so deadly and so easy to spread makes every league completely justified in putting things on hold for a few months in the name of public health. One day, luckily, sports will come back with fans in the stands. When that finally happens, it will be glorious.