We watch sports because we like the games, but we follow sports around the clock because we love hearing what people have to say about the games.
This year was a good one for soundbites—whether they were funny, touching, honest, absurd or offensive. That’s why we’ve rounded up 25 quotes that stuck in our minds this year. (I obviously missed some pretty memorable ones, so don’t hesitate to let me know on Twitter.)
25. Adam Eaton calls Adam LaRoche’s son a “leader”
After Chris Sale’s clubhouse scissor rampage, it’s easy to forget the White Sox’ other absurd off-field drama—Adam LaRoche retiring because he couldn’t bring his son to work. Drake LaRoche’s absence also had a profound impact on outfielder Adam Eaton.
“Drake was more than just a kid that came to the clubhouse,” Eaton said. “He did more for people than we did for him by having him there every day. It’s a difficult dynamic to understand, and that’s why there’s such a strong outreach for us.
“We lost a leader in Drake, which is crazy enough that a 14-year-old could be looked at like that, but the kid was so tremendous.”
24. Sam Hinkie goes long
The 13-page letter Sam Hinkie sent when he resigned from the Sixers definitely wins the award for Best Overwrought Email of the Year. It’s too long to pick out too many pieces to highlight here, but this one is definitely worth noting.
“Abraham Lincoln said “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
23. Ted Cruz knows how to sway Indianians
“The amazing thing is, that basketball ring in Indiana, it's the same height as it is New York City and every other place in this country.”
22. Donald Trump calls the NFL ‘soft’
The day after a particularly brutal Bengals-Steelers playoff game, Trump held a rally in Nevada and lamented that “football has become soft like our country has become soft.”
Ten months later, he mocked the NFL for taking brain trauma too seriously.
21. Curt Schilling really hates Hillary Clinton
Can you believe it’s been less than a year since ESPN fired Curt Schilling for being a jerk online? It was the anti-transgender meme he shared in April that finally did him in, but his comments in March about Hillary Clinton weren’t much better.
“I hope she does [go to jail],” Schilling said on a Kansas City radio station. “If I’m gonna believe, and I don’t have any reason not to believe, that she gave classified information on hundreds if not thousands of emails on a public server after what happened to General Petraeus, she should buried under a jail somewhere.”
Freed from ESPN’s shackles, Schilling went even further off the deep end. He said in June that “it should be a federal crime to vote for her.”
20. Tom Brady tells reporters to blame his wife
When reporters asked Tom Brady after the election to elaborate on his support of Donald Trump, Brady clammed up, offering a really lame excuse.
“I talked to my wife and she said I can’t talk about politics anymore,” he said. “And I think that’s a good decision made for our family.”
19. Connor McGregor on the weight of his checks
“The only weight I give a f--- about is the weight of them checks and my checks are always super heavyweight.”
18. Gregg Popovich tries to keep Boris Diaw svelte
“Sometimes we’re up 30,” Diaw told SI, “and he's like, ‘I’m just going to leave you on the court so you can lose some weight.’”
17. Paul Manziel’s frightening warning
Last winter, as Johnny Manziel appeared to be stuck in a downward spiral—getting arrested for domestic violence, continually struggling with sobriety—his father offered this brutally honest wake-up call.
“I truly believe if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday,” Paul Manziel told the Dallas Morning News.
16. Hope Solo lashes out after quarterfinal loss to Sweden
“We played a creative game. We had many opportunities on goal. We showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team.”
“We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly, firmly believe that.”
“Sweden dropped back. They didn't want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball around. They didn’t want to play great soccer, entertaining soccer. It was a combative game. A physical game. Exactly what they wanted. Exactly what their game plan was. We had that style of play when Pia was our coach. I think it was very cowardly. But they won, they’re moving on. And we’re going home.”
Solo’s comments earned her a six-month suspension from U.S. Soccer, and appear to have ended her national team career.
15. J.R. Smith is inspired by 2K
14. Suns owner doesn’t like millennials
Surely you’d be shocked to learn that Robert Sarver, the 50-something owner of the Phoenix Suns, isn’t a fan of Kids These Days.
“I’m not sure it’s just the NBA,” Sarver said. “My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the off-season and he can’t seem to recover from it.”
“I’m not sure if it’s the technology or the instant gratification of being online. But the other thing is, I’m not a fan of social media. I tell my kids it’s like Fantasy Land. The only thing people put online are good things that happen to them, or things they make up. And it creates unrealistic expectations. We’ve had a number of setbacks this year that have taken their toll on us, and we haven’t been resilient. Therefore, it’s up to our entire organization to step up their game.”
13. Mike Gundy thinks cell phones are making college athletes worse
“Focus and preparation is different now then it ever has been,” Gundy said. “And the players that we coach come in and they’re not like guys that we coached 10 years ago, and 15 years ago and 20 years ago. Because your generation spends all their time looking at their phone. My generation spent all our time out in the front yard playing games. And so they were more ready to go into college athletics. They understood all the dynamics of it compared to young people nowadays. They don't spend as much time around football, they spend more time playing some game on a phone. Because of all that, and the training that takes place, there’s more parity in college football.”
12. American wrestler Jordan Burroughs gets emotional after Olympic upset
Jordan Burroughs is one of the most dominant wrestlers in the world, but his dream of repeating as Olympic champion ended with a defeat in the quarterfinals.
“I feel like I let my family down,” Burroughs said. “I missed a lot of important milestones in my children’s lives to pursue this sport. I didn’t see my son walk for the first time. I’ve left my wife at home with two kids in Nebraska for long periods of time to go to training camps and tournaments and foreign countries. She did that joyfully, not begrudgingly, because she knew on days like these I always performed.
“Now I feel like I let her down. I feel like I let her down, and I let my family down. This was supposed to my year. This was supposed to be my breakthrough performance that cemented me as a legend in this sport. And it almost retracted my position in this sport. It hurts me. It hurts a lot, man. It hurts.”
11. Gregg Popovich is fining Tim Duncan until he comes back
10. Wild coach forced to address criticism by rabbit
With the Wild struggling under head coach Mike Yeo earlier this year, former Minnesota forward Zenon Konopka and his bunny Hoppy decided it was time for a change.
The rabbit’s critique cut Yeo pretty deep.
He was fired three days later.
9. Mark Cuban says Russ isn’t a superstar, KD shoots back
8. Russ thinks KD’s comment is “cute”
7. Adam Jones’s brilliant 12-second rant
(A warning: the language here is definitely NSFW.)
After a wild finish to the Bengals’ playoff loss to the Steelers, Jones gave the best (and one of the most profane) soundbites in NFL history.
6. Rick Carlisle gets folksy
“We couldn’t hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle.”
5. Yankees COO perpetuates team’s elitist reputation
“The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money,” Lon Trost said. “It’s not that we don’t want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and [another] fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it’s frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount.
“And quite frankly, the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that’s a frustration to our existing fan base.”
4. Louisiana cop shuts down Nick Saban
When two Alabama football players were arrested in Louisana over the summer, Paul Finebaum said that Nick Saban told him the cops were LSU fans. That led to the best official police statement of the year.
“I can tell you for a fact that the first officer on the scene is not an LSU fan,” Monroe PD spokesman Chris Bates told USA Today. “He hates LSU. He doesn’t like the color yellow or purple and gold. In fact, he’s a Florida fan. If you mention LSU around him, he throws up in his mouth. Most of our officers are LSU fans, but we have some who are Arkansas fans and Georgia fans and Alabama fans. And I'll tell you this, the first officer did not even know those guys were players.”