Sportsman of the Year

Ever since I started writing for Sports Illustrated back in 1996, I’ve had a personal love-hate relationship with its Sportsman of the Year. Sometimes, the choices have been unarguable—the women’s soccer team, Tiger Woods, Buddy Biancalana. Other times, however, I’ve wanted to rip my hair out. Brett Favre? Dwayne Wade? That Roger Federer never won the damn thing—and now it’s too late—is a shame. I mean, who was better?

This year, I consider the choice to be relatively obvious: Either the New Orleans Saints as a team, or Drew Brees solo.

We always talk about sports changing lives and bringing hope and blah blah blah, and 90 percent of the time it’s made-for-TV Stu Scott-infused garbage. I even thought that was the case in New Orleans until, a few months ago, I went there. Man, was I off. That Super Bowl triumph genuinely recharged a metropolis that had been beaten down time after time. The horror of Katrina still looms large, and while a football team can’t fix anything, it can help in the mental health of a region.

Personally, I’d pick Brees. Now only was he terrific all season—he adopted New Orleans as his own.

Brees is my sportsman. I hope he’s SI’s, too.

PS: Guest speaker at my class tonight—Steve Cannella, SI’s baseball editor and a longtime friend. Guy did a great job.

2 thoughts on “Sportsman of the Year”

  1. What bothers me the most about the Federer thing is, after going 90-5 (!) with 3 Grand Slams and a 9 other titles in 2006 and not winning the Sportsman, how are they going to ever give it to a tennis player in the future?

    Is not only “Who was better”, but “Who’s going to be better than that?”. So what, a tennis player has to win 4 Slams to win the Sportsman? That’s the minimum now: because giving it to a player with lesser stats would expose how idiotic that was.

    I would understand it if Federer was a dick, but that’s not the case. That’s why nobody is complaining that Bonds, Kobe or Tyson never won the Sportsman: they are dicks.

    Federer didn’t win because he’s Swiss. That’s why they went the easy route, just give it to American Sports Star Du Jour. Sad, but true. I think it’s safe to say that an American player with Federer’s stats would have won it.

    Sorry about the rant, but back in 2006 that really angered me.

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