A national tragedy. Meanness inside the locker room and violence outside of it. We had the bizarre and the troubling and the courageous away from the arena, as well as triumph inside of it. The 2013 sports year seemed littered with more headlines away from the playing field than on it. Here's a look back at our picks for the top 10 national sports stories in 2013.
1. The Richie Incognito bullying scandal
On Oct. 28, Jonathan Martin, an offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, left the team for what was believed to be emotional issues. Martin then dropped a shocker: He left the team because of bullying led by teammate Richie Incognito. The story became a national topic on bullying, hazing and the culture of the football locker room with former players, media and fans taking sides. The Dolphins suspended Incognito and neither he nor Martin has played since.
2. Biogenesis baseball suspensions
It was an item first reported in the Miami New Times. The paper obtained documents from a former employee who linked three baseball players to obtaining performance-enhancing drugs from the now-defunct rejuvenation clinic (Biogenesis of America). By the time it was all over, several of the biggest names in baseball, including former MVPs Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, were suspended. Braun and 11 others, including Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta, all accepted suspensions of at least 50 games, while A-Rod appealed and continues to fight his record 211-game suspension.
3. Aaron Hernandez arrested
The New England Patriots (and former Gators) tight end went from being one of the NFL's best players to facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Hernandez has been charged with first-degree murder in the June 17 shooting death of acquaintance Odin Lloyd. After the arrest, more stories came out about Hernandez's checkered past, including a possible connection to a double-murder in 2012 in Boston's South End.
4. Boston Marathon bombings
One of America's classic sporting events was the scene of an act of terrorism April 15 when two brothers used two pressure cooker bombs to kill three and injure an estimated 264 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. One brother was killed and another was apprehended in a massive manhunt that captivated an American television audience. The incident tightened security at sporting events similar to the way things were in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. But the incident also galvanized the city of Boston, and the mantra of "Boston Strong'' was on full display at sporting events involving Boston teams over the next several months.
5. NFL concussion lawsuit settlement
In recent years, we've seen a troubling number of former NFL players plagued by brain issues. Suicides, dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, players claimed, could be linked to concussions suffered while playing. In a response to lawsuits filed by players who claim, among other things, they were not kept safe or made aware by the NFL of the long-term effects of concussions, the league settled with the players. On Aug. 29, the NFL agreed to pay former players $765 million, a drop in the bucket compared to what the league gets annually in TV revenue.
6. Manti Te'o hoax
A Notre Dame linebacker and one of the best football players in the country had overcome personal tragedy with the death of his girlfriend. But it turns out, his girlfriend never existed. As debate raged as to whether he was the victim of an elaborate hoax or the willing participant in a calculated lie, the Te'o story became one of the most bizarre and talked-about sports stories we had ever heard. While most believe Te'o was a naive victim, the scandal followed Te'o to the point that he did several high-profile interviews to explain his story, including one with Katie Couric when he was even asked if he was gay. Te'o played poorly in a blowout loss to Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7, but still was selected in the second round of the NFL draft.
7. Jason Collins comes out as gay
A 35-year-old NBA journeyman who played for six teams over 12 seasons became the first person to come out as gay while still active in one of the four major North American sports leagues. Collins came out in a self-authored Sports Illustrated article. This story would be higher on the list and might have made more of an impact if Collins had actually hooked on with a team for this season. He still is a free agent. Nevertheless, his courage needs to be recognized, especially because he still had planned on playing when he made his announcement.
8. Red Sox win World Series
Remember when we used to talk about the Curse of the Bambino and you couldn't turn your television on without someone like Doris Kearns Goodwin or Stephen King waxing poetic in a documentary about how the Red Sox never win the World Series? Bet Yankees fans (and most everyone else who didn't grow up in New England) sure miss those days. Led by ageless star David Ortiz and a bunch of bearded sluggers, the Red Sox won their third World Series since 2004, knocking off the Cardinals in a close, if not very well played, six-game series.
9. NHL lockout ends
The third NHL lockout since 1993-94 nearly sabotaged an entire season for the second time. With the clock ticking ever so close to a nuclear midnight, the NHL and players' association struck a new deal that salvaged the 2012-13 season. The shortened season meant every team played a compacted schedule of 48 games, but it made for a mad dash to the postseason. And the postseason was sensational, with the Bruins mounting a remarkable Game 7 comeback against the Maple Leafs in the first round, then losing to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final because of Chicago's late comeback in the clinching Game 6.
10. Andy Murray wins Wimbledon
Okay, so technically not a national story, but we Americans follow Wimbledon. Plus, this is one of the feel-good stories in all of sports and we could share in the joy of our former countrymen when Andy Murray became the first Brit man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. After coming from two sets down to beat Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals, Murray went on to beat Jerzy Janowicz in the semifinals then knocked off nemesis Novak Djokovic in straight sets.