Top 5 sports stories of the year

Novak Djokovic – can he repeat the brilliance of 2015? Photograph by Charlie Cowins.

Novak Djokovic – can he repeat the brilliance of 2015? Photograph by Charlie Cowins.

It’s that time of year when everyone does Top 10 lists so I thought, Why not join the fun? But if you’re a reader of this blog, then you know that I like to do things with a little twist. Here is my list of Top Five stories I covered in 2015, with a look at how they might develop in 2016:

1. American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win
To understand how big this story was, consider this: Before the Pharoah won the Crown, there were more men who had walked on the moon (12) than there were Triple Crown winners (11). In becoming the first horse to capture the elusive trifecta since my beloved Affirmed in 1978, AP galvanized a sport and a nation. And he did it with sweetness, charm and versatility – coming from behind at the Kentucky Derby, winning in the slop at the Preakness and going wire-to-wire commandingly at the Belmont Stakes. What’s next: Tours to see AP at Coolmore, where he’ll be standing stud, are already sold out – a sign that America’s love affair with its hero continues.

2. Novak Djokovic’s shining season
In the year of Serena, Novak Djokovic was the best tennis player on the planet. After Williams won the first three Slams, she lost to Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the US Open and bowed out for the rest of the season. After Nole lost to Stan Wawrinka in the finals of the French Open, having already won the Australian, he went on to capture Wimbledon, the US Open, the China Open, the Paris and Shanghai Masters, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the…. You get the picture. Indeed, his greatest loss, the French, may have been his finest moment. Just like AP coming back to capture the Breeders’ Cup Classic after the Travers disappointment, Nole showed that a real champ moves on from heartbreak to stand and deliver. What’s next: Nole and the gang are off to a flying start at the Qatar Open. If 2011 and ’12 are any indication, I don’t think Nole’ll duplicate the brilliance of 2015, but I do look for him to have a solid year.

3. Deflategate
Concussions. Domestic violence. A round robin of coaches. But the NFL’s biggest story was Tom Brady’s deflated balls. (Ah, I couldn’t resist once more for old time’s sake.) What’s next: Tommy’s sprained ankle should heal in time for him to lead the New England Patriots into the divisional playoffs Jan. 16.

4. Great Britain (actually Andy Murray) captures the Davis Cup
In tennis, there are few greater accomplishments, and in leading the British team to the championship, Andy was dandy, going a perfect 8 and 0. What’s next: Andy, currently playing in Australia’s Hopman Cup, says he would bow out of the upcoming Australian Open if wife Kim gives birth to their first child early.

5. FIFA goes down
Wire fraud. Racketeering. Money laundering. Bribery. Questionable World Cup sites. Arrests and indictments amid soccer’s leadership. And President Sepp Blatter being suspended for eight years. What’s next: Swiss officials have handed over related bank documents to their American counterparts. Look for more heads to roll. And if worse comes to worse, FIFA can always deflect attention from its transgressions with a few deflated soccer balls.