Unpackin’ It: Will 2016 be a better sports year than 2015?

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Bryce Johnson is the host of the nationally syndicated sports and faith radio show UNPACKIN’ it and is the president of UNPACKIN’ it Ministries. Their mission is to challenge, inspire, and encourage sports fans to follow Jesus and become more like Him. He is a regular contributor to Sports Spectrum and the voice of Power to Win. Connect with Bryce on Facebook at UNPACKIN’ it and on Twitter @UNPACKINIT. Listen to the show HERE.

MY TOP-FIVE SPORTS HEADLINES OF 2015

1. American Pharoah wins Triple Crown
I’m not a huge horse-racing fan, but I enjoy witnessing rare accomplishments in sports. American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 by winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. We may not see another Triple Crown for many years or ever again, so it was worth soaking in the excitement.

2. Brett Favre returns to Green Bay after 7 years in exile
The legendary quarterback had a terrible ending to his career, but the accomplishments in Green Bay should be celebrated. I was glad to see the reconciliation take place between Favre and the organization as well as the fans. It’s wonderful that he is now in the Packers Hall of Fame and his No. 4 jersey is retired. Soon enough everyone will forget he wore a Jets jersey at one point!

3. Carolina Panthers start NFL season 14-0
This headline had the potential to read much better, if it wasn’t for their loss to the Falcons in week 15, but their hot winning streak during the regular season was truly impressive. I admit I’m a Panthers fan, so 14-0 was much sweeter to see for me, but I still think NFL fans should root for a team when they have a chance to accomplish what hasn’t been done since the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.

4. Jim Harbaugh makes Michigan competitive again
After a 5-7 record in the 2014 season under Brady Hoke, Jim Harbaugh took over his alma mater and led them to a 10-3 year with a dominating win in their bowl game. I think college football is better when Michigan is relevant and I like seeing a coach have success for the same school he played at.

5. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski wins 1,000th game
It’s still amazing to think that in 2015 “Coach K” became the first Division 1 men’s basketball coach to earn 1,000 wins. In an era where college coaches seem to bounce around to different schools constantly or try to coach in the NBA, Krzyzewski has sustained an extremely high level of success at Duke, including winning the 2015 National Championship.

MY TOP-FIVE WISHFUL HEADLINES FOR 2016

1. Golden State Warriors win 73rd game of the regular season
The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls still hold the NBA record for wins in a season with 72, but I think it would be fantastic to see Steph Curry and the Warriors knock them off. If they stay healthy, I think they will do it.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers win first NBA Championship
The Warriors can get all the attention and admiration for an incredible regular season, but I think it would be great for sports if the Cavs win the championship. It would be wonderful for the loyal and tortured fans of Cleveland to be champions.

3. Derek Carr leads Oakland Raiders to NFL Playoffs
Derek Carr is my favorite young quarterback because of his character, leadership, and style of play. The Raiders took some positive steps forward this year to regain relevance, and I’d enjoying seeing them make the playoffs in 2016.

4. Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy split Majors
Jordan Spieth’s dominance in 2015 was impressive, but Rory is still one of the best. Wouldn’t it be great to see both of them win two majors each this year and be paired together on Sundays? That would get the sports world really excited about golf again!

5. Chicago Cubs win 2016 World Series
One of these years it has to happen, right? Last season they got much closer and if their young phenoms continue to develop, a World Series dream might actually become reality.

By Bryce Johnson

This column was published in Sports Spectrum’s FREE Winter 2016 DigiMag #2. Click HERE to view the issue. Log in HERE to view past issues. Subscribe HERE to receive eight issues of Sports Spectrum a year.