Skip to main content

Michael Sam was the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.LM Otero/The Associated Press

The NFL's troubles with domestic violence were selected the sports story of the year Tuesday in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.

Ninety-four ballots were submitted from U.S. editors and news directors.

Here are 2014's top 10 stories:

1. NFL domestic violence

Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice knocked his now-wife unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator Feb. 15, but it wasn't until July 24 that domestic violence cases spiralled into a crisis roiling the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for just two games, which drew widespread derision.

But the NFL's problems were only beginning. On Sept. 8, TMZ Sports released video from inside the elevator that showed Rice punching his then-fiancée; the Ravens responded by releasing him and Goodell suspended him indefinitely. And on Sept. 12, one of the league's biggest stars, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, was indicted on felony child abuse charges for using a wooden switch to discipline his four-year-old son.

2. Clippers' Sterling banned

Donald Sterling had withstood accusations of racism throughout his more than three decades as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. But when audio surfaced April 25 of Sterling spewing racist remarks, he was banned for life by new NBA commissioner Adam Silver and forced to sell the team.

3. LeBron goes home

Four years after spurning Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat, LeBron James announced July 11 that he was rejoining the Cavaliers.

4. Firsts for gay athletes

Jason Collins became the first openly gay man to play in the big four North American pro sports leagues when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 23. The veteran centre had come out 10 months earlier, a trailblazing moment that helped inspire other athletes to follow his lead in 2014. That included Michael Sam, who went on to be drafted into the NFL, though he has yet to play in a game.

5. Giants win World Series

Madison Bumgarner pitched seven dominant innings to win Game 1 of the World Series, then topped himself with a shutout in Game 5. He outdid himself yet again with five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 to clinch the Giants' third championship in five years.

6. College football playoff pays off

Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6. Oregon was upset by Arizona on Oct. 2, and Alabama fell to Ole Miss two days later. The rest of those teams' regular-season games still mattered because of the new College Football Playoff, which made more and more matchups meaningful deep into the fall.

7. Tony Stewart

One of NASCAR's biggest stars, Tony Stewart, was taking part in a small sprint-car race in upstate New York on Aug. 9, when he struck and killed 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr.

8. World Cup

Brazil's World Cup was a big celebration until those German goals started piling up. The major disappointment came on the field when the hosts were thrashed 7-1 in the semi-finals by eventual champion Germany.

9. Seahawks win Super Bowl

The Seahawks flustered and flattened the Broncos with a 43-8 victory in the Super Bowl.

10. Sochi Olympics

The Sochi Olympics opened amid fears of terrorist attacks and denunciations of Russia's so-called "gay propaganda" law. The Games went on peacefully, with the hosts winning 33 medals – though not in hockey.

Report an error