1. As the result of a U.S.-spearheaded international crackdown on soccer corruption, 14 officials from FIFA — the sport’s governing body — were indicted on suspicion of receiving $150 million in bribes. The U.S. government indicted 16 more FIFA officials on Dec. 3. FIFA suspended president Sepp Blatter on Oct. 8, then banned him from the sport for eight years on Dec. 21.
2. In one of the most dramatic endings in Super Bowl history, New England’s Malcolm Butler intercepted Seattle’s Russell Wilson at the goal line in the waning seconds to preserve New England’s 28-24 win, the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl title in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.
3. The Golden State Warriors started this season 24-0 before losing Dec. 12 at Milwaukee. Combined with their four wins to end the 2014-15 regular season, their 28-game streak is the second-longest in NBA history, trailing only the Lakers’ 33-game run in 1971-72, and one more than the Heat’s 27-game joyride in 2012-13.
4. The NFL spent months trying to determine whether the Patriots knowingly and intentionally broke rules by using underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis. NFL-hired investigator Ted Wells concluded it was “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel participated in the deflating of footballs, a scandal that predictably was dubbed “DeflateGate.”
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On May 11, the NFL suspended Tom Brady for four games, but a judge overturned the suspension on Sept. 3, allowing Brady to play a week later in the season opener at Pittsburgh.
5. Ohio State wins the first College Football Playoff, beating Alabama in a semifinal game in New Orleans and then routing Oregon 42-20 in the championship game in Arlington, Texas. It was the Buckeyes’ eighth national title.
6. American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years and only the 12th in history. He did it with a wire-to-wire win in the Belmont, after earlier victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
7. With MVP Stephen Curry leading the way, Golden State defeated Cleveland in six games for its first NBA title in 40 years, a disappointing conclusion for LeBron James in his first season back with the Cavaliers.
8. The Kansas City Royals won their first World Series title in 30 years, beating the New York Mets, a year after the Royals’ seven-game loss to San Francisco.
9. The United States beats Japan 5-2 in Vancouver for the World Cup title, the U.S. women’s first since 1999. Carli Lloyd scored three goals in 16 minutes.
10. Serena Williams’ bid for a Grand Slam ended two wins short when she was defeated by Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.
11. Kentucky’s hopes for a perfect season were dashed by Wisconsin 71-64 in a Final Four semifinal, the Wildcats’ only loss in 39 games. Duke then beat the Badgers 68-63 for the Blue Devils’ fifth national championship.
12. Jordan Spieth produced the first wire-to-wire Masters win in 39 years and tied the tournament record by shooting 18 under par. He went on to win the U.S. Open and finished the year with a PGA Tour record $12 million in earnings.
13. Kobe Bryant, the third leading scorer in NBA history, announced his retirement, pending the end of the season, and did it in style, by writing a poem on the website, The Players Tribune.
14. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally met in the so-called “Fight of the Century,” with Mayweather winning by unanimous decision in the 12-round bout to improve to 48-0.
15. In a result that shocked UFC followers, Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey with a kick to the head in the second round to become the women’s bantamweight champion. Rousey had been unbeaten in 12 previous matches.