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From Super Bowl LII to the surreal Markelle Fultz saga, here are the best Philly sports stories of 2018 | Mike Sielski

Everyone loves doing best-of lists this time of year. Here’s ours.

The Eagles' Nick Foles hold his daughter, Lilly, as he celebrates the Eagles' win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
The Eagles' Nick Foles hold his daughter, Lilly, as he celebrates the Eagles' win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Everyone does best-of lists this time of year, and nobody likes doing them more than sportswriters do. We get a chance to highlight some of the good work we did, and despite all protestations to the contrary, we actually did produce some good work. Honest.

Besides, it’s fun to look back over the previous year, and around here, 2018 was red-letter: The Eagles won the Super Bowl for the first time, and the Villanova men’s basketball team won its second national championship in three years.

So here it is: Philadelphia Media Network’s best sports journalism of 2018. The stories and columns are in no particular order. Hope you enjoyed them then and enjoy them now:

Zach Berman’s game story on the greatest night in Philadelphia sports history: the Eagles’ victory in Super Bowl LII.

Joe Juliano’s story on Villanova’s rout of Michigan in the NCAA championship game.

Mike Jensen on the tragic and redemptive story of Villanova women’s player Jannah Tucker.

Paul Domowich produced a terrific series on Eagles great Brian Dawkins ahead of Dawkins’ induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Les Bowen explained how Nick Foles had changed from his first stint with the Eagles to his slightly more successful second stint.

David Murphy on Colin Kaepernick and the nature of debate.

An in-depth profile of former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol.

Frank Fitzpatrick on the 1993 Phillies and all their excellence and excess, 25 years later.

Jeff McLane with the definitive story on Carson Wentz’s comeback from his knee injury.

Bob Ford on the still-unbelievable Twitter scandal that took down Bryan Colangelo.

Sam Carchidi wrote a moving piece on how the Eagles' Super Bowl run stirred memories of his father.

John Smallwood on new technology that can allow a spinal-cord patient to drive a NASCAR race car.

Matt Breen told the story of how Gabe Kapler went from getting kicked out of college to working at a pizza shop to reaching the big leagues.

Aaron Carter on Ojay Harris, who overcame autism to shine for the Martin Luther King High School football team.

Zach Berman got a one-on-one interview with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie during Super Bowl week and made the most of it.

Scott Lauber compiled an oral history of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.

Jeff McLane detailed the origin and genius of the “Philly Special.”

Marcus Hayes looked at the 76ers’ use of analytics.

Bob Brookover argued in May that the Phillies needed to trade for Manny Machado.

The life and last game of Delaware high school football referee Mike Abbatiello.

Les Bowen on the night of Doug Pederson’s life.

Keith Pompey made it clear in early February that Markelle Fultz’s biggest problem wasn’t an injured shoulder.

Sam Donnellon dared to ask a question that the Flyers don’t want to consider: What if all their young defensemen aren’t that good?

Sarah Todd on the fires that destroyed her hometown of Paradise, Calif.

Zach Berman on former Eagles long-snapper Jon Dorenbos, one year after the trade that saved Dorenbos’ life.

Phil Mickelson caused a stir at the U.S. Open by moving his ball. Joe Juliano chronicled the controversy.

David Murphy on the old Doug Pederson foe who rooted for the Eagles coach from afar.

Matt Breen provided an insightful inside look at the Phillies’ defensive shifts.

Marcus Hayes on Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, who wouldn’t have become the Final Four’s most outstanding player without the help of two priests.

Bob Ford broke his leg but, more importantly, got a column out of it.

Rick O’Brien on two girls at Thomas Edison High School who were playing tackle football and playing it well.

Marcus Hayes apologized to Nick Foles on behalf of everyone who doubted him.

John Smallwood on the Penn football player who is researching whether Viagara can treat brain injuries.

Scott Lauber went deep – in a good way – on Aaron Nola’s offspeed stuff.

Frank Fitzpatrick on former Inquirer columnist Bill Lyon, raging against the darkness.

Mike Jensen on former Temple basketball standout Ron Rollerson, now trying to become a Paralympian.

Marc Narducci on East Carolina football player Trevon Brown, who survived Hurricane Florence.

Jonathan Tannenwald on the efforts, locally and nationally, to flatten the world of youth soccer.

David Murphy on Nick Foles, whose Super Bowl run was a victory for introverts.

Frank Fitzpatrick on the fight to save Muhammad Ali’s Deer Lake training camp.

Jeff McLane on how Doug Pederson guided the Eagles to Super Bowl LII.

Mike Jensen went to Australia and delivered this feature on Eagles rookie lineman Jordan Mailata.

A column detailing an absurd June afternoon at the White House – with President Trump, but without the Eagles.

Sam Carchidi broke the news that the Flyers had hired Chuck Fletcher as their new general manager.

Bob Ford on the good and bad of Gabe Kapler.

Phil Anastasia on the bond between Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle and Shawnee High School pitcher Danny Hill.

Ed Barkowitz on the mysterious “Duffel Bag Bettor."

The story of Tommy Thompson, who could have been the first black man to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

Keith Pompey traced the twists and turns of the surreal Markelle Fultz saga.

Bob Ford, capturing the Eagles’ victory in Super Bowl LII.

Aaron Carter on a mother who decided, she said, to send her son – a football star at Imhotep – to school in Oregon so he could escape the gun violence in Philadelphia.

Mike Jensen on Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, two-time national champion.