This past year was spent on the dark side of sports

Sandusky’s crimes, Armstrong’s fall among biggest stories of 2012

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Take March 21, for example. That was the day when Tim Tebow was traded by Denver to the New York Jets, a huge story simply for the Tebowmania factor — and one that wasn’t even the biggest in the NFL that day, not with the announcement that New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton would serve a yearlong suspension for his role in the bounty scandal.

Try Aug.15, when baseball got to experience a rarity — Felix Hernandez pitching the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history — and an all-too-common occurrence, that being someone testing positive for something, in this case San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera basically forfeiting any shot at the MVP or the NL batting title by being suspended 50 games following a positive test for testosterone.

Or Oct. 10, when Raul Ibanez showed off a flair for the dramatic — twice — by hitting tying and winning home runs as the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the AL Division Series, an enormous moment by any measure.

Of course, those blasts came on the same day that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a report in which Armstrong was portrayed as the lead of the “most professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

As stunning as Armstrong’s fall was, what went on at Penn State continued to dominate the sports lexicon.

Sandusky was arrested in November 2011, but resolution didn’t really begin until 2012 — part of why the case was voted the top sports story of the year by The Associated Press, based on balloting by U.S. editors and news directors.

The longtime Penn State defensive coordinator was convicted of 45 counts of abuse involving 10 boys, and later sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, which means Sandusky is likely to die behind bars.

Paterno succumbed to lung cancer in January, and a statue of his likeness outside Beaver Stadium was removed six months later, one day before the NCAA announced a $60 million fine and four years of scholarship reductions.

Still to come: civil suits brought by Sandusky’s victims and the trials of former school administrators accused of neglecting their duty to report allegations.

“We can expect more fallout,” Erickson said.

Paterno is still considered by many as a sympathetic figure and still revered as a role model by some.

Clemens‘ legacy doesn’t seem to resonate the same way with sports fans. It’s almost like his courtroom win was one that many did not expect to see happen, and it may be his last big victory for a while. Clemens — the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner — is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, and a recent survey of voters by the AP shows that he is likely to fall well short of the number of votes necessary for induction in 2013.

Clemens was accused by former personal trainer Brian McNamee in the Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball of using steroids and HGH, allegations Clemens denied before Congress. Eventually, after a Justice Department investigation looked into whether Clemens lied under oath, a grand jury indicted him on two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress.

He was acquitted of all the charges on June 19 after a 10-week trial.

“I’m very thankful,” Clemens said. “It’s been a hard five years.”

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