It's been quite a year

Someone once called sports, the Toy Department of Life. That's an apt description, because the games we love should never be more than a diversion from the many things that have greater significance.

But just because sports are distractions in the grand scheme of life doesn't mean they're easily forgotten, as the biggest games of late have proven.

The New England Patriots 34-28 victory in Super Bowl 51 treated us to something we've never seen overtime game to cap a Super Bowl.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick ended the conversation for greatest quarterback and greatest coach in NFL history. That's five titles for both of them, so as much as you may not like them, you have to give it up to them both.

Brady more than doubled the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Previously, no team had ever come back from more than 10 points down to win. This time, Brady sniffed at a 25-point deficit to lead his team to two fourth-quarter touchdowns and 2 two-point conversions to get the game to overtime.

You knew Atlanta never had a chance when New England won the toss, and indeed the Falcons didn't. It didn't take long for Brady to lead the Patriots down the field to the game-winning score.

There's always this tendency to label something that's the latest ever as also the greatest ever. I can't get on board with Super Bowl 51 being the greatest ever, because I know people who went to bed when it was 28-9 in the fourth quarter.

So, start-to-finish, it can't be considered the greatest Super Bowl ever if people bailed on it midway through. Was it the greatest finish? I wouldn't dispute that because of the unprecedented nature of the New England comeback.

And I sure won't fight with you if you want to label this past year as the greatest cumulative collection of sports championship games.

Think about it.

It started last April with Villanova winning the NCAA basketball championship on Kris Jenkins' buzzer-beating three-point shot for Villanova.

Then a few months later, you might remember the NBA Finals. The Cavs went down 3-1 to the Warriors, who had set an NBA record for victories in a season. Cleveland faced Games 5 and 7 on the road, where the Warriors hadn't lost back-to-back all season, knowing that no team had ever overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.

You know what happened next. The Cavs rode 42 points apiece from LeBron and Kyrie to a win in Game 5, tied the series with a Game 6 win in Cleveland, then used LeBron's chase-down block, Kyrie Irving's dagger three-pointer and Kevin Love's surprise defense on Steph Curry to complete the greatest comeback in NBA history.

Flash forward to the World Series, and this time Cleveland felt the pain of blowing a 3-1 lead. The Indians didn't go down with a fight, though, extending Game 7 to extra innings before falling by a single run to the Chicago Cubs in their first World Series win since 1908.

And then came a college football season that culminated with a national championship game rematch of Clemson and Alabama. First Bama, then Clemson, the Bama again had control until DeShaun Watson led the Tigers down the field and threw the winning touchdown pass with one second on the clock.

College hoops, the NBA, Major League Baseball, college football and now the NFL....all finishing in unforgettable fashion in a 10-month span of the calendar.

It doesn't get better than that, but if it does, you can be sure that I'll be watching. Because no matter how old I get, I'll never tire of a taking a tour of the Toy Department of Life.

(Listen to Bruce Hooley from 6-9 a.m. Monday-Friday on 1057 The Zone).

Photo: Getty Images

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