Surreal in sports happens often on the field and in between the lines.
Recently, there was last year's World Series-Game 6, when one more out would have made the difference, and this year's Super Bowl rematch (between Giants/Patriots) when it came down to a last play.
Also, the explosion of Tebow mania and Linsanity had its surreal moments, as they led their teams to unlikely victories.
Record-setting moments like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters at the 2008 Olympics captured the public's attention and created an aura of unbelievability, too.
Sometimes, though, what happens outside the arena or off the field seems the most compelling and hardest to fathom.
Surreal is most bizarre when a screenplay for a movie could never have been written to match what actually happened.
Which ones over the last 25 years or so have most affected American culture and have been the ones most difficult to accept?
There have been many other popular surreal sports news stories over recent history, including the Bobby Petrino and Ozzie Guillen stories from this year. The rape cases of Mike Tyson and Kobe Bryant were also big stories to cross over from sports to news.
Michael Vick doing hard time for sponsoring a dog-fighting ring may well deserve consideration for this list. Vick was at the top of his profession as an NFL quarterback and then gets busted for setting up dog fights for him, his buddies and others to gamble on. Dead dogs were found hanging from limbs of trees. According to many in the media and large amounts of citizens across the country, he had lost all sense of right and wrong. The obvious biggest shock was the dogs element because America is such a dog-loving country. Ultimately, this case was determined to have too much racial and ethnic bias and was not put on the list.
Overall, these five above stand out and make the list as major, surreal, significant sports news stories for their surprise and for the personalities involved.
Originally published September 2012