The Ten Biggest Sports Stories of 2018

The Ten Biggest Sports Stories of 2018
It's been a roller coaster of a year for Denver sports. The Rockies teased sports fans into thinking something magical would happen, only to get swept by the Brewers. The hugely disappointing Broncos are missing out on the playoffs. And the Nuggets have surprised everyone by jumping to the top of the Western Conference standings. From the inspirational to the disgraceful, here are the ten stories that defined local sports in 2018:

The Unstoppable Phillip Lindsay
Aurora native and South High School alum Phillip Lindsay tore through the record books as a CU Buffs football player. However, despite his blazing speed and uncanny playmaking ability, pro scouts still didn't believe in him enough to draft him. But after signing with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent, Lindsay began turning heads in summer camp and has emerged as the Broncos' top offensive player. Lindsay's production hasn't gone noticed, as he recently became the first undrafted offensive rookie to be selected for the Pro Bowl.

click to enlarge The  Rockies' Twitter account celebrated Charlie Blackmon's status as National League batting champ by giving him a crown. - @ROCKIES
The Rockies' Twitter account celebrated Charlie Blackmon's status as National League batting champ by giving him a crown.
The Rockies' Playoff Disappointment
The Rockies sure were entertaining this past season. A loss to the Dodgers in the playoff tie-break play-in game put the team's season in jeopardy, but the Rockies followed up that nail-biter with a win over the Cubs in a wild-card game. Unfortunately, the Brewers then swept the Rockies, ending one of the best seasons in franchise history.

Chad Kelly's Arrest
Saddled with a history of behavioral issues, backup Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly finally seemed to be turning things around. He looked accurate in camp, and certain media personalities were even clamoring for him to replace Case Keenum mid-season. But that opportunity never came, as Kelly found himself in trouble off the field. After disappearing from a Broncos Halloween party, he somehow wound up in a nearby home, muttering to himself on the couch. A resident of the house hit him with a vacuum hose and chased him out; police later arrested the QB, and the Broncos cut him soon after.

click to enlarge Demaryius Thomas is leaving Denver. - NFL VIA YOUTUBE
Demaryius Thomas is leaving Denver.
NFL via YouTube
Demaryius Thomas's Trade
After the Broncos' week-eight loss to Kansas City, five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas told Denver media that there was a 50-50 chance that he would be traded. His prediction came true when he was traded to the Texans. Days later, Thomas played against his former team, helping the Texans continue their mid-season winning streak. The trade made sense at the time for the Broncos, since the team was content to let rookie Courtland Sutton, a physical carbon copy of Thomas, line up across from Emmanuel Sanders. But Sanders ended up tearing his Achilles tendon, and that injury, combined with the Thomas trade, has led to a depleted Broncos receiving corps.

The Nuggets' Western Domination
This was supposed to be the Broncos' year. But now that the team has been eliminated from the playoffs, Denver sports fans can ease their collective suffering by focusing on the city's bright spot, the Nuggets. Sitting atop the Western Conference, the Nuggets have racked up one marquee win after another. Even more impressive, the team is doing so after coming off five consecutive seasons of failing to make the playoffs.

click to enlarge Smiles outnumbered frowns during Case Keenum's debut as Broncos starting quarterback, but barely. - DENVER BRONCOS VIA YOUTUBE
Smiles outnumbered frowns during Case Keenum's debut as Broncos starting quarterback, but barely.
Denver Broncos via YouTube
The Case Keenum Experiment
Expectations for the Broncos were high before the season began. The team picked up a future Pro Bowl pass rusher in Bradley Chubb and finally found its quarterback of the future in Case Keenum. Keenum was just coming off a high of leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and looked poised to do something similar in Denver. But he hasn't produced and has a penchant for throwing the ball to opposing players. By the time the team was eliminated from the playoffs, Keenum had thrown twelve interceptions as a Bronco, which is five more than he threw all last season with the Vikings.

The Marquette King Disaster
Marquette King signed with the Broncos in the off-season for three years and $7 million and brought a swagger to a position that is often defined by monotony. But in the four games he played this season, King put up the worst punting numbers of his career. A thigh injury sidelined him for the rest of the season, and the Broncos have released him.

click to enlarge This scene outside of the Rocky Mountain Showdown was a harbinger of the messy things to come for the Buffs. - CONOR MCCORMICK-CAVANAGH
This scene outside of the Rocky Mountain Showdown was a harbinger of the messy things to come for the Buffs.
Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
The CU Boulder Football Fiasco
The Buffs started off the season hot, winning their first five games and entering the AP Top 25 ranking. But it turns out the Buffs were blowing a lot of smoke, as the Mike MacIntyre-led team went on to drop its last seven games, finishing with another 5-7 record. CU replaced MacIntyre with Mel Tucker, a former University of Georgia defensive coordinator who hopes to turn around the program that won the 1990 National Championship.

The Bowlen Family Feud
The Bowlen family, whose patriarch, Pat Bowlen, owns the team, has been fighting over who will run things in the future. Pat Bowlen suffers from Alzheimer's and has ceded control of the Broncos to the Pat Bowlen Trust. The trustees want Brittany Bowlen, Pat Bowlen's daughter from his second marriage, to eventually take over the team. But Pat Bowlen's younger brother, Bill Bowlen, wants to see Beth Bowlen Wallace, Pat Bowlen's daughter from his first marriage, run the Broncos. In other words, Christmas was pretty awkward at their place.

CSU's Mouthy Basketball Coach
Colorado State University men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy resigned in February amid allegations that he verbally abused players, going on profanity-laced tirades and singling out players in the locker room during halftime and after games. Eustachy allegedly went so far in demeaning certain players that one ended up in tears in front of his teammates. Eustachy was replaced by Niko Medved.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.