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Six of the best sports conspiracy theories of all-time

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The Harbaughs made the cut.

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

We all love ourselves a good conspiracy theory and a great story, whether it is true or not. It’s why the nation is currently engrossed in Netflix’s Tiger King, which if you have not watched it yet — let’s just say it’s a heck of a ride.

With sports on the back-burner for the time being, here are some of my favorite sports conspiracy theories from over the years.

6. Everything NASCAR has ever staged at Daytona

Anyone who has a knowledge of the history of stock car racing knows that there is seemingly perpetual hijinks that takes place. A lot of things over the years at Daytona would back this up, from the idea that Richard Petty’s 200th win in front of President Ronald Reagan was staged in 1984 to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win in the first race back after the tragic death of his father at the track a few months before. These are two iconic moments on the sport’s iconic track, so it always makes you wonder.

5. Patrick Ewing’s frozen envelope

Most of these are seasoned with a bit of “I’m not sure this really happened” flavor, but this is the one I’m most confident happened. Patrick Ewing could have wound up on the Kings, Pacers, Hawks, SuperSonics, Warriors or Clippers instead, but it was the Knicks that wound up winning the lottery prize, which gave the league’s biggest media market a star to build around. How did they pull this off? Most theories revolve around the envelope containing the Knicks as the lottery winner was frozen so commissioner David Stern knew which was he was supposed to pull. So the Knicks got their star, but that’s all they got, as the franchise is still without an NBA title since the 1973 season.

4. New Zealand Rugby’s food poisoning problem

Imagine the Miracle on Ice, but if the Russians were intentionally food poisoned and you have what some people believe took place with the New Zealand rugby team lost the 1995 World Cup final, giving South Africa a victory in the sport’s most iconic moment. It’s a wild story and accusation.

3. Whenever fans say that any sporting event is rigged against Michigan

This one is not here to rile you guys up, but maybe it talks to sense into at least a few people. Anytime Michigan has a bad call go against them or they lose a game, some folks scream to the mountaintops that the NCAA or Big Ten is out to get them and that these games are rigged against the Wolverines. Nobody puts butts in the seats in football stadiums or in front of televisions like Michigan does and the fanbase travels as well as any in all of sports, not just college athletics. The NCAA wants your money. It wants you to travel. It wants you to be involved in these big games and big moments. There is not a conspiracy to keep you down, but there is something cosmically that enjoys watching us go through some painful moments. That I cannot explain.

2. The time the lights went out at the Super Bowl XVLII

This is not quite on the level of the frozen envelope in terms of how likely it was that it actually happened, but it feels somewhat plausible. A power “abnormality” took place early in the third quarter with John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens up 28-6 over Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers, which resulted in a 34-minute delay. The 49ers would outscore the Ravens 25-6 from there and had a chance to win it at the end, but Baltimore ultimately held on. It just has always seemed odd that a game that had no drama and was heading for a drubbing would be halted like that akin to rage-quitting a game of Madden on your Xbox, but I digress.

1. Cal Ripken’s streak almost ended because of Kevin Costner

This one is the least true on this list, but it still makes me laugh the hardest. This theory stated that Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr.’s famed games-played streak was kept alive by an “electrical malfunction” at the ballpark after he found actor Kevin Costner in bed with his wife, resulting in a fight between the two men. It’s like something out of a made-for-TV movie and is quite salacious, but both men have denied that ever took place. What had actually taken place was that a crew was attempting to fix a bank of lights at the stadium and after the game was delayed, they ultimately postponed it.

What are some of your favorite sports conspiracies ever? Let’s hear them in the comments below.