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Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals reign in Arizona Sports’ 2016 tweets of the year

Tyrann Mathieu smiles following a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, in Glendale Ariz. Mathieu signed a five-year contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals NFL football team. (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP)

Social media is good for a few things, cats and Kermit memes among them.

When it comes to sports, Twitter especially acts as a place of fan bonding over triumph and failure by their favorite teams. So to look back on the calendar year in the eyes of Arizona sports fans, we went back in our @AZSports Twitter feed to take note of the most popular tweets by month.

What did it tell us about 2016?

Even in a disappointing year, the Cardinals still dominated Arizona fans’ focus. That, and despite Tyrann Mathieu’s struggles to play up to expectations, the Valley loves it some Honey Badger.

January

It’s hard to say any defensive back duo could compare to Tyrann Mathieu’s and Patrick Peterson’s 2015 seasons in which both took home AP All-Pro honors. Peterson was his usual self at corner, essentially acting as caution tape that quarterbacks wouldn’t dare dismiss on one side of the field. He closed with 35 tackles, a forced fumble, two picks and eight passes defensed.

February

In the slot, Mathieu proved a unique commodity with his ability to make plays in the box and in coverage to close the year with 89 tackles, five interceptions and 17 passes defensed. NFL.com tabbed him as the Defensive Player of the Year.

March

The Biebs is a Max Domi fan. The Coyotes’ young wing got a nice shoutout when Justin Bieber wore the Arizona player’s jersey during a concert in Glendale. There’s actual history to suggest Bieber wasn’t just pulling out a cheap trick to get the local fans amped.

April

The Honey Badger sat down with Erin Maloney and Paige Dimakos on the Extra Point Podcast to discuss everything from his recovery from an ACL tear to what he’s doing to make a difference in New Orleans.

May

Robert Nkemdiche fell down the draft boards for Arizona to select him 29th overall. Bruce Arians needed to tell Nkemdiche to take a chill pill before hurting someone in his very first practice, a good sign that turned out to be much ado about nothing. Nkemdiche has one tackle heading into the season finale. Perhaps he’ll take this as a redshirt year and break out in 2017 a la D.J. “Knee Deep” Humphries’ career arc.

June

Yep, it’s another Mathieu tweet that was a favorite of fans. This type of versatility became a lead-in to the giant contract extension he was about to receive.

July

He’s back for go-round No. 20. Shane Doan proclaimed he would return to the Coyotes before a contract wasn’t even signed. Smells like loyalty to us.

August

Badger is back, but this time it’s less about what he can do on the football field and more about hanging out with some random dudes who put together trick shot videos.

September

Who are the captains of the Cards? About who you’d expect.

October

Does this count as foreshadowing? Unfortunately, something general manager Steve Keim said early on this year that wasn’t meant to define Mathieu’s 2016 season did just that. Mathieu battled injuries, a position change and recovery from injuries. “He just wasn’t ready to play,” coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday after the Cardinals shut Mathieu down due to a shoulder problem. “He was hurting the team as much as taking a chance at hurting him. He just couldn’t play at his level.”

November

More praise for the Cardinals’ two best defensive backs. But as other teams hope to emulate how Arizona uses Mathieu as a slot defensive back, Cardinals fans are hoping Mathieu can use this offseason to return to his peak self.

December

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, nothing got more attention during a disappointing year than the saga of Michael Floyd’s DUI arrest, and the team’s decision to cut him.

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