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Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Superbowl XLIII: The 10 biggest sports moments of the '00s

It's been a wild, wild decade of sports, from the pigskin to the pool. CP has wrangled the biggest moments in athletics since the turn of the millennium. Let's kick things off with our No.  10 pick:

10. 59 year-old Tom Watson's near-hit at '09 British Open - he would have been oldest Major champ.

It's not like the (now-)sexagenarian hasn't done enough damage in his career, with five Open Championship and three Senior Open Championship victories. But making another go at the Open as a certified oldster - and almost winning again - was icing on the cake of one of golf's most impressive careers.
 

9. Ian Johnson rushes for 2-pt. conversion to win Fiesta Bowl for Boise St. in '07, proposes to girlfriend

A behind-the-back handoff from Jared Zabransky sealed the Bowl by one point, 43-42. And then Johnson got the girl and a helluva lot of media attention by proposing on-field to his cheerleader girlfriend. That kind of story is so damned American it should be in a beer commercial.

8. Tiger Woods win '01 Masters to hold all PGA Major titles

We all suspected Tiger Woods was a Pokemon fan when he was overheard growling "Gotta catch 'em all," under his breath as he teed off. In all seriousness, the ease with which Woods captured the four major titles elicited less hubbub than deserved from America, who, perhaps forgetting it was watching golf, was expecting a bit more drama. Nonetheless, the accomplishment was both monumental and historic.

7. Giants fell undefeated 'Pats in Super Bowl XLII

Everybody likes to see the underdog win, and the Giants were that, facing the undefeated Patriots (with many commentators calling New England the best NFL team ever). The Giants, on the other hand, had had a rocky season, starting weak and suffering many injuries. So when the tense defensive game ended in the Giants' favor after the drama of a 12-play, 83-yard drive (and a clock mishap that caused fans, players, and reporters to flood the field prematurely) the nation celebrated.

 

Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Superbowl XLIII: The 10 biggest sports moments of the '00s
seantoyer via Flickr.com

6. Super Bowl XLIII

The most-watched Super Bowl in history, with 98.7 million viewers, Super Bowl XLIII pitted the almighty Steelers against the relatively weaksauce Cardinals, who would've liked to clinch their first title since '47. No such luck, as their fourth-quarter surge proved unsuccessful, and Pittsburgh took the trophy 27-23. 

5. Usain Bolt sets world records in Beijing, then breaks them a year later

Jamaican Usain Bolt is stupid fast. His nickname is "Lighting Bolt," for instance. He came away from Beijing with gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay, and broken world records in the 100m and 200m. That wasn't good enough, though, so he headed to the 2009 World Championships and broke his own records again in both events, just for good measure.

4. Boston Red Sox win the World Series in '04

It was the first championship victory for the Sox since 1918 - cause enough to be excited. But the Sox came back from down 3-0 to the Yankees, their nemesis, in the AL championship series. And then there was Curt Schilling's six innings pitching injured, in which he allowed only one run. And Pedro Martinez's seven no-run innings, and the series-winning home run by Johnny Damon. All around, Boston's domination of the '04 World Series embodied what baseball should be.
   

3. Barry Bonds eclipses Hank Aaron

Sure, Barry Bonds was probably pumped up with steriods tighter than carnival balloon. And sure, since '01 he's lied on the stand about steroids in baseball, and been dragged through public humiliations galore. But no amount of tarnish can cover up the historic significance of his record-breaking home run on August 7th, 2007, in which he hit his 756th home run, overtaking Hank Aaron's longstanding record. Whether you think it's a fair reckoning of the record or not, Bonds' impact will be felt far into the future of baseball.

2. Michael Phelps kicks international ass at the Beijing Olympics

Let's get this straight: Michael Phelps is a mutant. Incredible training, smarts, and human spirit can't explain away Phelps' success entirely. With a 6'7" wingspan, stubby legs, and size 14 feet, Phelps is basically a human/penguin/rowboat hybrid. Eight gold medals in swimming left the international swimming community confused and hurt and rallied America around the Olympics in a way unseen since the pro-basketball Dream Team of Barcelona '92.

1. Former Arizona linebacker Pat Tillman killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan (with bonus subsequent government cover-up)

Pat Tillman had everything going for him. He had an incredible career as a linebacker at Arizona State, where he graduated with a 3.84 GPA. Then he had an incredible career in the NFL, one that afforded him the luxury of turning down a nine-million-dollar contract out of a sense of loyalty to his team, the Cardinals. But eight months after 9/11, he quit football and joined the Army, becoming a ranger after deploying to Iraq. In an incident still clouded with mystery, Tillman was shot three times in the head by friendly forces in Afghanistan. If that wasn't bad enough, members of Tillman's unit attempted to burn his effects to cover up the friendly fire. Then the Army botched its handling of the whole mess by refusing to acknowledge the cock-up until much later. The important events may have happened off the field, but there's little doubt that this incident brought home the effects of the War on Terror to football fans nationwide.


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