When we’re looking for best sports storyline from 2011 that we want to continue into 2012, there’s really no other choice:
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Tebow, Tebow, Tebow.
No, no, I’m not talking about Tim Tebow the media phenomenon. Nor am I talking about Tim Tebow the religious symbol. I’m not even really talking about Tim Tebow the running back who sometimes doubles as a quarterback, the inspiring field general with the goofy throwing motion.
I’m talking about Tim Tebow, Comeback King. I’m talking about the man who, once the clock strikes the fourth quarter and Tebow Time begins, undergoes a costume change and comes out a superhero, capable of performing the impossible.
For 2012, I predict the entire sports world will be infected with Tebow Fever, not just the sports media who feed into and fuel the hype. (Preemptive admission: Yes, that’s a stone thrown from a glass house.) I predict the Tebow Epidemic will make 2012 the Year of the Comeback in sports. I’m predicting 2012 will be the year of the unpredictable.
Are these improbable? Oh, yeah. Every single one of them. But impossible? Nope. Not one. (I mean, I’m not predicting the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series this year, folks. Wait till 2013.) In the name of Tebow, the Year of the Comeback will see the seemingly impossible become possible. Because, after all, that’s the best part about sports: That at the beginning of every game and every season, we never know what will come.
So here’s to 2012, when we’ll all root for these seemingly impossible comebacks to come true:
That the man who not long ago was the most famous athlete in the world returns to that status. Tiger Woods’ comeback from a life-and-career-altering sex scandal began this month, when he won his first tournament in 107 weeks. Tiger’s comeback, which is also golf’s comeback, will continue in 2012, when Tiger will win two majors.
That LeBron James will undergo a transformation, reverting from the spoiled man-child villain of his first season with the Miami Heat back to the enthusiastic, childlike superstar we fell in love with in the Cleveland Cavaliers days. LeBron’s image will make a comeback in 2012. His image, however, still won’t be able to win the Heat a championship.
That Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III will decide to join USC’s Matt Barkley and come back for one more year of college football. 2011 in college sports were just plain ugly: Ohio State, Miami, the continued BCS nonsense, Bernie Fine, and, trumping them all by a mile, Jerry Sandusky. We all need a dose of college sport purity for 2012. These three men postponing their NFL millions for one more shot at college glory will remind us the college game can really be about more than just the Benjamins.
That the 2012 Summer Olympics won’t be dominated by new blood but instead by the inspiring comebacks of older Olympians. From swimmers Ian Thorpe, Janet Evans, Dara Torres and Ed Moses, to former Olympic wrestling champions Cael Sanderson and Kurt Angle, to former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling champion Rulon Gardner, to 2008 gold medalist gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, the London Games will be dominated by the stories of people we thought were past their prime but proved us wrong.
Oh, and Michael Phelps will take home three more golds.
That Stephen Strasburg will continue his comeback after Tommy John surgery and win the Cy Young. And that the Washington Nationals will sign free agent Prince Fielder, take the mantle as the league’s most intriguing team, continue baseball’s comeback in the nation’s capital … and win the World Series.
That Peyton Manning will come back from neck surgery. As a coach. For the Indianapolis Colts. And help Andrew Luck win rookie of the year.
That the brightest star in the NHL, Sidney Crosby, will make another comeback from his scary concussion-related problems just before the playoffs and lead his Pittsburgh Penguins to another Stanley Cup. And that Gary Bettman will breathe a sigh of relief.
That UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre will come back from ACL surgery, defend his title, and retire at the top of his game.
That boxing will make a comeback as a sport from its disarray of the past decade and give fans two fights we’ve been pining for: Pacquiao-Mayweather and Klitschko-Klitschko. Doesn’t matter who wins. Boxing needs these fights to survive.
And one more: That, against all odds, Tim Tebow leads the Denver Broncos all the way to the Super Bowl against the behemoth Green Bay Packers. Then engineers a fourth-quarter comeback. Then wins. In overtime.
Hey, why not? It’s a new year in sports. And in this Year of the Comeback, anything can happen.
You can follow Reid Forgrave on Twitter @reidforgrave, become a fan on Facebook or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.