On the Red Smith Hall of Fame wall in Indianapolis — a wall that highlights contributions of many distinguished writers and editors — there’s a quote from the legendary Smith. It reads: “Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
Fast forward to 2022. We’ve traded typewriters for laptops in our ever-changing digital space. But what hasn’t changed is that many of us, just like Smith’s writings, have shown our greatness. We have done it in breaking news, enterprise/features, columns, investigations, event coverage, projects and podcasts, from North America to the UK.
We are proud to present our Best of 2022. Selected stories are unlocked to read through the end of the year.
Best of Investigative
The Eugene Melnyk era in Ottawa: Hopeful, then bizarre and tyrannical
By Ian Mendes, Dan Robson and Katie Strang (NHL)
From “beyond embarrassing” meltdowns to puzzling personnel decisions: An in-depth look at Melnyk’s mercurial two-decade reign.
‘The most toxic environment I’ve ever been a part of’: Inside Urban Meyer’s disastrous year with Jaguars
By Jayson Jenks and Mike Sando (NFL)
According to coaches, players and staff, Meyer crossed the line from tough and demanding to belittling, demeaning and leading by fear.
‘We went through hell’: Former players accuse Cynthia Cooper-Dyke of demeaning, demoralizing and abusive behavior
By Chantel Jennings and Dana O’Neil (NCAAW)
WNBA legend and Hall of Famer’s alleged actions led to a Title IX investigation at Texas Southern.
‘A failed system’: A corrupt process exploits Dominican baseball prospects. Is an international draft really the answer?
By Maria Torres and Ken Rosenthal (MLB)
A longtime player agent says that “MLB has allowed the industry to spiral out of control.” The question now is how to fix it.
Michigan men’s hockey coach accused of berating staff, misleading recruits and retaliating against team captain
By Katie Strang (NCAA Hockey)
One finding from the investigation into the program detailed ‘pervasive fears among both student athletes and staff members of retaliation.’
Best of Enterprise/Features
Jake Plummer wants to live forever
By Christopher Kamrani (NFL)
The former NFL quarterback believes mushrooms will save the world. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at his Colorado mushroom farm.
Hilary Knight takes control: Her identity, her dreams and the fight for what’s next
By Meg Linehan (Women’s Hockey)
Olympic hockey gold medalist discusses the weight of representing a sport: ‘I just feel like I haven’t been able to be myself’
Halfway home: a Phillies prospect is willing his way back to baseball after a month-long coma and two brain surgeries
By Matt Gelb (MLB)
Fifty-nine days in the hospital. His left side paralyzed. Fifty pounds lost. Now Daniel Brito is trying to get back to the sport he loves.
On a quiet lake in rustic Minnesota, Stanford coaching icon Tara VanDerveer is running it back one more time
By Chantel Jennings (NCAAW)
Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer was close to calling it a career in her early 60s until a return to her Minnesota lake cabin set her free.
Smylie Kaufman’s long way back
By Brendan Quinn (Golf)
Kaufman rose to fame on the PGA Tour but lost it just as quick. He’s fighting to get back, but instantly took to a broadcast job with ESPN.
How does Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to be great? By being “a little crazy”
By Eric Nehm (NBA)
The two-time MVP and 2021 NBA Finals MVP is preparing for his 10th season by focusing on “battles” and “challenges,” both real and imagined.
Bronny James’ complicated reality, where recruiting meets great expectations
By Dana O’Neil (NCAAM)
LeBron James Jr. is a four-star player with a five-star name. What does that mean for his college prospects? College coaches weigh in.
The quiet life and the sad death of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team’s Mark Pavelich
By Dan Robson (NHL)
A court found him ‘mentally ill and dangerous,’ but the former Olympian found refuge for a time in a home for recovering veterans.
A minor league announcer reported an assault, and ‘In the end, it hurt me’
By Britt Ghiroli (MLB)
Maura Sheridan reported an assault to the police and to the minor-league team she worked for. Then she found her job posted online.
A driver’s remorse, a return to Pocono: ‘Will you help me race through Turn 1?’
By Jeff Gluck (Motorsports)
The track is a final hurdle in a journey that dragged Sage Karam into depression and exposed some of the worst sides of humanity.
Jeff Herrod feels forgotten: ‘No one acknowledges the work we did’
By Zak Keefer (NFL)
The heartbeat of the Colts’ defense for a mostly dreadful decade of football, Herrod wants today’s players to know his story.
Twenty years after his World Series moment, Scott Spiezio puts his life back together
By Sam Blum (MLB)
Over the course of his addiction, Spiezio went to rehab 12 times, was arrested five times, and almost died before getting clean.
The Jets’ D.J. Reed, a dad gone too soon and a family story of fortitude
By Zack Rosenblatt (NFL)
Reed learned before kickoff that his father had died. His mother’s lessons on resiliency guided him to one of his best pro games.
‘It’s like trying to hold water in your fist’: Searching for the truth behind the Querétaro stadium violence
By Felipe Cardenas and Pablo Maurer (Soccer)
A quiet city was rocked by one of Mexican football’s darkest days, but uncertainty still reigns about its origins.
Inside the Texas spending blitz that hooked Arch Manning and a No. 2 recruiting class
By Sam Khan Jr. (NCAAF)
Tomahawk steaks, Four Seasons and Lady Bird Lake tour part of the Longhorns’ 48-hour, nearly $280,000 whirlwind weekend.
Tony Reali on life, grief, empathy and two decades of ‘Around the Horn’
By Stephen Nesbitt (Sports Media)
Reali was 25 when he started hosting “Around the Horn”. Now he’s 44, a husband, a father, and the show has grown up with him.
Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina revisit their first start, and it’s hilarious
By Katie Woo (MLB)
The record-setting MLB battery watches their first start from April 6, 2007, savoring memories and yelling at the umpire all over again.
Why Steve Wojciechowski isn’t ready to return to college coaching yet: ‘I like how I’m living’
By Seth Davis (NCAAM)
If Wojo is at fault for anything, says Coach K, ‘it’s that he put too much of himself into the job, and that can wear your ass out, man.’
From small-town Nebraska to Harvard captain to Tom Brady’s housemate: The life and death of Chris Eitzmann
By Steve Buckley (NFL)
They drove each other as fellow Patriots rookies in 2000. But while Brady’s career drew near an end, Eitzmann’s life ended in tragedy.
‘A League of Their Own’ turns 30: Catching up with mighty Marla Hooch
By Daniel Brown (Culture)
The film that showed the world that girls can play ball turns 30. Megan Cavanagh on her time with Madonna, Tom Hanks and more.
Best of Global Football
Investigation: Barcelona’s financial crisis and what the rest of football thinks of it
By Adam Crafton, Pol Ballus, Dermot Corrigan, James Horncastle and Phil Hay (Global Football)
Asking UEFA for advances, requests for strange transfer clauses and suspicions of leaks. Yet Barcelona thinks they’re on the right track.
Banned, ignored… adored: How England fought to become women’s Euro 2022 champions
By Charlotte Harpur, Katie Whyatt and Sarah Shephard (Global Football)
This is the story of how England went from outcasts and part-timers to Euro 2022 champions – and the individuals who led the revolution.
Yann Gueho, the story of France and Chelsea’s lost star who was rated better than Mbappe
By Stu James (Global Football)
Yann Gueho’s story is extraordinary and has taken months to piece together. Trawl the internet and he almost ceases to exist.
Manchester United: Inside Ralf Rangnick’s spell as interim manager
By Laurie Whitwell (Global Football)
Rangnick’s spell in charge never got off the ground, beset by indecision, problems with backroom staff and a disillusioned squad.
‘He sold himself to the devil’ – Messi, 2030, and a very uncomfortable deal with Saudi Arabia
By Adam Crafton (Global Football)
Argentina wants to host the 2030 World Cup. So does Saudi Arabia. Which makes Messi’s ambassador deal all the more complicated…
The Radar – The Athletic’s 2022 World Cup scouting guide
By The Athletic Staff (Global Football)
The Athletic’s guide to 100 of the most talented and under-the-radar footballers on show at the World Cup.
The inside story of how Belgium’s World Cup turned toxic
By Oliver Kay, Gregg Evans, and more (Global Football)
Tensions between senior players, unhappiness at Qatar HQ and concerns over Roberto Martinez’s tactics all contributed to a dire campaign.
How Argentina won the World Cup: Messi’s voice, lucky Aguero and lots of beef
By Adam Crafton, David Ornstein, Dermot Corrigan, Ed Malyon, Felipe Cardenas, Laurie Whitwell, Oliver Kay, Pol Ballus, Sam Lee (Global Football)
Argentina captured the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the inside story of how it all came together.
Best of Event Coverage
The power and the pain of watching Tiger Woods at the Masters
By Brendan Quinn (Golf)
Woods returned to professional golf, firing a 71 in the first round of the Masters.
No storybook ending for Coach K at Cameron. Now what happens for him and Duke?
By Dana O’Neil (NCAAM)
Things didn’t go as expected for Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game, as North Carolina spoiled the meticulously planned going-away party.
Warriors’ trio of stars leaves no doubt: They belong with the best in NBA history
By Marcus Thompson II (NBA)
If anyone was still doubting Curry, Thompson and Green, there can be no denying it now: They’re an all-time trio.
‘I’ll remember that for the rest of my life’: Chiefs’ superstar trio elevate legacies in dramatic win over Bills
By Nate Taylor (NFL)
With another comeback win in the postseason, the Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to host four straight conference title games.
Major League Baseball Lockout Coverage
By Evan Drellich and MLB staff (MLB)
The lockout came to an end on the 99th day, and Evan Drellich and The Athletic MLB staff were there every step of the way.
Best of Column Writing
Nets, grasping at straws, have many more problems than their head coach
By David Aldridge (NBA)
Yes, this is about Kyrie Irving, but only tangentially. What this is really about is shame.
Kentucky’s season is over, and the list of reasons why begins with John Calipari
By Kyle Tucker (NCAAM)
Saint Peter’s, a 15 seed, stunned No. 2 seed Kentucky in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Tournament.
For Draymond Green, the video changes everything
By Marcus Thompson II (NBA)
Draymond Green has reached amazing highs in his Hall of Fame career. But this stunning incident is a new low for the Warriors’ fiery star.
If Nets hire Ime Udoka, it would send another clear message to women
By Kelsey Russo (NBA)
The Celtics turned their backs on the same employees they said they’d protect, and the Nets could have been next.
Rocky Wirtz’s childish, unprofessional outburst calls into question his fitness to lead the Blackhawks
By Mark Lazerus (NHL)
Pro sports teams are, by their nature, public trusts. And Rocky Wirtz lost whatever trust Chicago had in him.
Aaron Judge home run chase
By Chris Kirschner, Andy McCullough and Lindsey Adler (MLB)
A detailed look at each of the home runs that Judge hit to pass Roger Maris for the American League record.
The Athletic NBA 75: Ranking the greatest players of all time
By The Athletic staff (NBA)
The Athletic’s list of the top 75 players in NBA history, voted on by our panel.
‘The Beast’ 2022 NFL Draft Guide: Dane Brugler’s 399 scouting reports and ranking of 1,698 players
By Dane Brugler (NFL)
From quarterbacks to long snappers, every name you need to know for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Secrets of the Coaching Carousel
By The Athletic staff (NCAAF)
A look at some of the wildest college football coaching changes, exits and more.
NHL Player Cards 2022: Quick, digestible data on players from all 32 NHL teams
By Dom Luszczyszyn and Shayna Goldman (NHL)
Welcome to our NHL Player Cards page, where you will find quick, at-a-glance summaries of relevant player stats in a digestible manner.
Best of Breaking News
A James Harden-Ben Simmons deal is a possibility before the NBA trade deadline
By Shams Charania (NBA)
The Nets and Sixers were open to discussing a blockbuster deal involving the two stars ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline.
Juan Soto rejects $440 million offer; Nationals will entertain trade proposals
By Ken Rosenthal (MLB)
The All-Star outfielder turned down an offer that would have made him the highest-paid player in baseball history.
Kyle Busch to join Richard Childress Racing in 2023, ending 15-year run with Joe Gibbs Racing
By Jordan Bianchi (Motosports)
Kyle Busch will not return to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2023 NASCAR season, ending a highly successful driver team pairing that won 56 races.
Rhian Wilkinson resigns from Portland Thorns amidst concerns over player relationship cleared by investigation
By Meg Linehan (US Women’s Soccer)
Wilkinson departs after winning the NWSL Championship in her first year as head coach.
Gio Reyna apologized to USMNT during World Cup for his lack of effort
By Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal (US Men’s Soccer)
Reyna was confronted by teammates about his attitude around the start of the World Cup.
Best of Breaking News Coverage
‘No love lost’ between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher: Inside the prickly relationship that boiled over
By Brody Miller, Bruce Feldman and Matt Fortuna (NCAAF)
Former colleagues detail the points of contention between master and apprentice that date to their early days at LSU.
‘I don’t think there’s any trust’: The irreconcilable differences of Russell Wilson, Seahawks
By Michael-Shawn Dugar, Jayson Jenks and Mike Sando (NFL)
The end of the relationship between Wilson and the Seahawks was a divorce in which both sides contributed to the dissolution.
How did USC and UCLA join the Big Ten so quickly? Inside a game-changing shift in CFB
By Nicole Auerbach and Matt Fortuna (NCAAF)
Inside the college football realignment blockbuster that even upstaged Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC.
Bruins’ Mitchell Miller signing ‘stunned’ bullying victim’s family — mother says son ‘not doing well’ after the news
By Fluto Shinzawa (NHL)
Joni Meyer-Crothers says of her son’s reaction to Mitchell signing: ‘Every time this is brought up, it puts him right back to where he was.”
Reds’ Tommy Pham slaps Giants’ Joc Pederson in pregame altercation over fantasy football
By C.Trent Rosecrans and Andrew Baggarly
More details emerged about what led to the conflict in the $10,000 buy-in fantasy league, including the role of Mike Trout as commissioner.
Best of North American Podcasts
The Athletic Football Show
The Athletic’s flagship football podcast covers the NFL like only The Athletic can. Robert Mays is joined by a team of world class NFL writers and analysts including Mike Sando, Nate Tice and more. They’ll break down the biggest stories throughout the world of football. Whether it’s happening on the field, or behind the scenes, you’ll get an in-depth look at the NFL season and NFL Draft on The Athletic Football Show.
The Athletic Hockey Show
The Athletic’s flagship hockey podcast delivers daily insights, player interviews, analytics, prospect rankings, betting picks, and much more, Monday through Friday, all season long. Hosted by: Ian Mendes, Julian McKenzie, Craig Custance, Sean Gentille, Hailey Salvian, CBC’s Rob Pizzo, Jesse Granger, Michael Russo, Sean McIndoe, Corey Pronman, Max Bultman and FloHockey’s Chris Peters.
The Athletic Baseball Show
The Athletic’s flagship baseball podcast features some of the best writers and thinkers in the game. Ken Rosenthal, Jayson Stark, Doug Glanville, Britt Ghiroli, Eno Sarris, Keith Law, Andy McCullough, Grant Brisbee, Derek VanRiper, Tim McMaster, Stephen J. Nesbitt and more come together five days per week to guide you through the Major League Baseball season. With rumors, analytics, trivia, prospects, and big name interviews, we’ve got you covered from Spring Training through the World Series.
What happened to Andrew Luck? Our series goes inside his rise, shocking retirement
A podcast series on Andrew Luck, one of the great what-ifs in NFL history. The series explores a fundamental question: How did one of the greatest quarterback prospects of all-time end up walking away from the game before he turned 30 years old?
The Athletic Soccer Show: From Couva to Qatar
Welcome to “From Couva to Qatar: Remaking the USMNT”, the new podcast series on first-hand story of the U.S. men’s national team’s long road from not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup to sending a talented, young squad to this year’s tournament.
The Athletic NBA Show
An NBA podcast featuring a rotating lineup of the best insiders, writers, and reporters from The Athletic. Monday thru Saturday. Monday: Basketball Buds with Zach Harper and Friends | Tuesday: Tampering with Sam Amick, Anthony Slater and Fred Katz | Wednesday: Hoops Adjacent with David Aldridge and Marcus Thompson | Thursday: Point of Contention with Zach Harper, Marcus Thompson and Special Guests | Friday: Nerder She Wrote with Dave DuFour, Seth Partnow and Mo Dakhil | And the Saturday Slam & Jam with Andrew Schlecht and Alex Speers. Plus, The NBA Daily Ding, a quick recap of the previous night’s action.
No Dunks is a daily NBA podcast hosted by Skeets, Tas, Trey, and JD — the original basketball podcasters. Join ‘em as they break down the league’s biggest games and headlines, answer listeners’ questions, interview guests and more.
The Andy Staples Show & Friends
Andy Staples breaks down the beautiful mess that is college football with his friends from The Athletic’s loaded college football staff. He’ll celebrate the walk-ons, break down the touchdowns that weren’t supposed to happen, and freak out every time a coach punts on fourth-and-1 from the opponent’s 45.
Best of Global Football Podcasts
The Football Manager Show
The Football Manager Show was a real throwback; a podcast set up purely to please an underserved community. And yet it succeeded on multiple levels. It won an award, celebrated with typical humility in this introduction. It secured a commercial partnership with Livescore that made it, pound for pound, the most profitable show on the network. But most importantly, it engaged a loyal community of listeners by offering tips, drawing on lessons from real football and just generally making people feel better about their obsession.
The Totally Football Show
The Totally Football Show is one of the biggest football podcasts on earth. Its Premier League coverage is listened to by tens of millions of people every season. But every third episode leaves England behind and focuses on the biggest leagues in Europe. Host James Richardson, a veteran of the Euro-scene, is joined by the very best English-speaking experts in the world for a show that is as comprehensive as it is entertaining. This, their first show of the 2022/23 season, is the perfect introduction to a wider world of football.
The Athletic Football Podcast: The Story of the Indonesia Stadium Disaster: Panic, Grief and The Search For Justice
The Athletic Football Podcast is usually the home of the best football analysis from the best writers at the company, but in the wake of the tragic events in Indonesia, it became so much more. Reporter Adam Leventhal travelled to Indonesia to tell the inside story of the disaster, speaking to the people who were there. This astonishing, unmissable podcast was one of the strongest shows released by the company in 2022.
Talk of the Devils
The Athletic’s Manchester United podcast has gone from strength to strength in 2022, helped in no small part by the unending chaos at one of the world’s biggest football clubs. Talk of the Devils is the only place to go when you want to hear what’s really going on at Old Trafford. Or, indeed, when you want to know what really happened at Brentford when the top flight minnows beat United by four goals in a humiliation that will sting for years.
Away from Home
The Athletic is given inside access to leading Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk as they compete against the world’s best teams despite being unable to play at home – in their own stadium – due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Athletic’s Adam Crafton and Joey D’Urso travelled with the team to gather first-hand accounts of the extraordinary challenges in the lives of players and staff as they compete against the world’s best players on the biggest stage under unprecedented, ever-changing circumstances.
The Athletic Women’s Football Podcast
As England strode to success in this summer’s European Championships, The Athletic was there every step of the way with a nightly edition of the Athletic Women’s Football Podcast. Lynsey Hooper and a host of guests are here to take you through the WSL and beyond.
Football Cliches is the cult hit of the Athletic’s UK network, mixing miscellany and irreverence to the delight of its audience. Which, by all accounts, includes future-Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer.
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