On this date in sports history ... well, this is one of those dates where a whole heck of a lot happened.
Let's begin at the beginning, as most good stories do. On April 18, 1998, the Indianapolis Colts had the first pick in the NFL draft. They needed a quarterback, and fortunately there were two available for them -- Ryan Leaf of the Washington State Cougars, and Peyton Manning of the Tennessee Volunteers. If you asked a lot of draft analysts at the time, this was a choice with no wrong answer ... but as we know now, the right answer was to draft Manning. The Colts did so, and he brought them a Super Bowl title and five regular-season MVP awards.
The very next year on April 18, 38-year-old Wayne Gretzky, playing for the New York Rangers, laced up his skates for the very last time. In his 20th season, Gretzky only scored nine goals all year -- but, true to form, had 53 assists, good enough for sixth place in the NHL. "The Great One" dished an assist to Brian Leetch in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that was that. The sport of hockey will never see another player like him again.
Finally, we come to the most recent incredible thing to happen on this date in sports. In 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo, another player with a good argument for being the greatest to ever play his sport, became the first in history to score 100 goals in the Champions League. He did so in style. Facing Bayern Munich in the UEFA quarter-finals, Ronaldo scored a hat trick to lead Real Madrid to a 4-2 win in extra time.
😮 2017: Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick to take his Champions League tally to 100 goals as Real Madrid reach semi-finals ⚽️⚽️⚽️#UCL | @realmadriden | @Cristiano pic.twitter.com/sveQjbIro9— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 5, 2021
Might another amazing thing happen on April 18 in 2023? The odds seem pretty good.