10 Athletes of 2008 The Impact Players

Michael Phelps

Who didn’t hear about what this young man did during the Beijing Olympics? At 6’4”, 200 pounds, Phelps racked up eight gold medals in the summer of 2008. However, his accomplishments ran into a slight roadblock when he was photographed hitting a bong in early 2009. USA Swimming suspended him for three months as a result, but Phelps career is sure to bounce back.

Gina Carano

The beautiful Carano first captivated general audiences with her brief turn on the short-lived revamp of American Gladiators (as one of the Gladiators). But MMA fans knew her prior to this as the strikingly beautiful Muay Thai/Boxing specialist that left a trail of broken hearts and broken faces on her path to the top. Carano currently fights with Showtime’s Strike Force promotion. She remains unbeaten.

Ben Roethlisberger

His first Super Bowl was an unmitigated disaster in which the Steelers pulled out their fifth championship in spite of him. But when the chips were down the 2008-2009 Pittsburgh Steelers got just the kind of performer they needed. Roethlisberger struggled throughout 2008, but finally put it all together for game-changing performances at the end of the year (Super Bowl included) to earn himself, and his franchise, a second Super Bowl title in less than five years.

Ryan Clark

Clark went un-drafted in 2002 and signed with the New York Giants for two seasons before leaving for the Washington Redskins in 2004. But it wasn’t until 2008 that he really hit his stride by earning a reputation as a fearsome defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two hits, in particular, are now legendary in the minds of football fans everywhere, one against the Patriots, and the other in the playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens. YouTube his name, and you’ll know exactly what they are. Personal statistics for 2008: 342 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 5 interceptions.

Tiger Woods

On the surface, 2008 might not have seemed like Tiger’s year, as his season was shortened due to injury. But for the uninitiated, here’s how it all went down. Woods won the U.S. Open…on a blown ACL. If you’ve ever tried to do anything on a blown ACL, you’ll understand what this means. Not much else needs to be said.

LeBron James

What a year this guy had! On February 27, 2008, he became the youngest player ever to break 10,000 points scoring. His presence on the Cleveland Cavaliers starting lineup propelled the team into the playoffs where they fell in seven to the Boston Celtics, but not before James racked up over 40 points in the final game.

Joe Flacco

Flacco’s dreams of Super Bowl glory fell short, thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but not before this rookie sensation turned in one of the all-time greatest first-year league performances. In the AFC Wild Card game against the Dolphins, Flacco became one of only three quarterbacks to win a post-season rookie start with a 27-9 victory (and the first to pull it off on the visiting team).

Kerry Collins

Collins came out of nowhere to resurrect the Titans, and his career, with an unbelievable season that culminated in a narrow 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the playoffs. Before that, however, he came off the bench early in the season to take over for a distraught Vince Young, garnered the Titans the best regular season record in the NFL, and earned his team home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Kurt Warner

Theoretically, Warner was another washed-up quarterback going into the 2008-2009 NFL season. He had other plans. After a season of ups and downs, Warner maneuvered the Arizona Cardinals into an NFC Championship and a Super Bowl appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cards fell short, but not due to Warner. His final performance of the season?

  • 377 passing yards
  • 72% completion rating
  • Quarterback rating: 112.3.

Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao won the WBC Lightweight Championship on June 28, 2008, against David Diaz (KO 9). What could be better than becoming a world champion? Pacquiao answered with a December fight against the iconic Oscar de la Hoya in which he earned a $15-plus million payday, and a TKO victory.


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