It’s no secret that 2016 was a tough year for many, the long list of celebrities that passed away has an effect on all of us in some way or another. However, if you are a Denver sports fan there is not too much to complain about when it comes to the local teams.
With that in mind I wanted to take a look back at 2016 and count down the top ten things to happen this year amongst Denver teams.
#10 – The Denver Outlaws won their second MLL title
I know professional lacrosse is not at the top of most people’s list when it comes to watching or following sports, but the Outlaws are a great organization in the MLL. They’ve missed the playoffs just once in franchise history and played in the title game a total of six times. This year they beat the Ohio Machine 19-18 in a thrilling final. The Outlaws play at Mile High Stadium and is an affordable night out for the family, so go support a local champion!
#9 – The Colorado Rapids added two players from Team USA and played in the Western Conference Championship
Jermaine Jones was a rental player for the Rapids this season, as he has now taken his talents to Los Angeles, but the Rapids did get him to sign and he was a key part of their success this season. The team also added Team USA goaltender Tim Howard this summer. Howard coming to Colorado created a lot of buzz in the city and helped put the Rapids back atop the MLS standings through most of the season. Colorado played the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Championship. The Sounders went on to win the MLS Cup, but the Rapids’ season was a very successful one. They did lose Jones, but look for them to pick up next season where they left off as one of the better teams in MLS.
#8 – CSU Football
The Rams season did not begin or end the way any CSU fan wanted, but it was impressive the way they turned their season around after the rough start. Coach Mike Bobo did not know which QB was going to lead his team coming into the year and it took Nick Stevens a few weeks to ultimately claim the job. When Stevens became the full-time starter the Rams turned it around. They did lose to Idaho in the “Famous Idaho Potato Bowl,” but the fact they even played in a bowl game was a success.
#7 – The Colorado Rockies were competitive through July
The Rockies have been a mess for a while, but things are starting to look up at 20th and Blake. Nolan Arenado is a top-10 player in the league, CarGo is still a masher and will continue to produce at the plate, and the team found out they have another couple of gems in David Dahl and Trevor Story. More on them in a moment. The Rockies have found themselves all but out of the playoff race in early July in the past, but the last season that was not the case. The Rockies were still in the race as the month of July came to an end. I know they still missed the playoffs, but for the first time in a long time I believe the Rockies are on the right track.
#6 – David Dahl and Trevor Story
Speaking of the Rockies being on the right track, that is in large part thanks to these two guys. If the rookies Dahl and Story can pick up where they left off last season, this team should not only contend for a wild card spot though July they should contend for it all season long.
#5 – Michael Malone changed the culture with the Nuggets
Michael Malone was hired by the Nuggets in June of 2015 and the transformation began. Malone was replacing Brian Shaw, who left the team is shambles. Though not all of those shambles can be blamed on Shaw – he did have to deal with some immature players. I don’t want to point fingers, but I am referring to Ty Lawson (totally pointing my finger). The Nuggets still have some work to do, and a bit of growing up to do, but Coach Malone changed the vibe around the team within a year of his arrival. The knock on the NBA is about the players running the league and not the other way around, which is not always great for the product. That is what happened to Shaw. He did not have control of the team and that coast him his job and the team a lot of time. Malone had to overcome that and set a new tone, he has done both.
#4 – Nikola Jokic is a STAR
Malone has changed the culture in Denver with the help of Nikola Jokic. Jokic has not only emerged as the Nuggets’ best young player, he has shown that he can be the leader this team needs. The leader on offense, the leader in the locker room and the player to either make a play or take a big shot when the team needs it. Jokic should be an All-Star this season. If he is not, he will be one shortly and for many years to come.
#3 – The Colorado Buffaloes
The Colorado Buffaloes did not finish the way any CU fan wanted them to, but you cannot deny them their great season. CU lost 38-8 in the Alamo Bowl to Oklahoma State but finished the season 10-4. A 10-win season for the Buffs. I want you to say that out loud. Buffs fan or not, you know that is impressive. MacIntyre still has some work to do to ensure “The Rise” is real and not just a one-and-done. That bridge is already being crossed in Boulder, and the 2016 Buffs are the team that put CU back on the college football map.
#2 – Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset
The Sheriff played hero for the Broncos and rode off a champion. Peyton Manning did not leave the game lighting up the league as he did his entire career, but as we know now his mind was still razor sharp. It was probably time to hang them up for old number 18, but his time in Denver being capped off with a Super Bowl win in the orange and blue makes him a legend in the Mile High City.
#1- The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50
And last but certainly not least, your Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara California, beating the Carolina Panthers 24-10 with Von Miller being named Super Bowl MVP. Sure the 2016 season didn’t go how anyone wanted, but remember that feeling back in February and appreciate the fact that the Denver Broncos delivered a world championship!
There is plenty to be thankful for as we end 2016, one of which for all of us should be living in this great state and getting to watch the sports teams that we call ours!