Sports Illustrated announced their much ballyhooed Sportsman of the Year award during halftime of last night's Sunday Night Football game. The venue of the announcement might have given away the fact that this year's choice played in the NFL and that held true as Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning took home the award/trophy/certificate/whatever he gets for being picked as the winner.
Manning's choice as Sportsman of the Year is, let's be honest, rather uninspiring. It feels like he's getting it as some kind of lifetime achievement award because he hadn't yet received the honor, like when it was given to Derek Jeter (2009) and Brett Favre (2007).
What has Manning really accomplished in 2013? He went 0-1 in the playoffs after losing a home Divisional Round game to the Baltimore Ravens. Yes, he's on pace to break some NFL single season passing records this year, but the Broncos don't have the best record in football at the moment and are tied for the lead in their division. Aside from that he's filmed some more funny commercials and got interviewed by Ron Burgundy.
Who else could Sports Illustrated have chosen? David Ortiz is a logical choice given his team actually won a championship and he was named World Series MVP. Not to mention his role in carrying forward the Boston Strong mantra. For that matter, you could name anyone associated with the Boston Marathon for responding to the terror attack there and it would have been fitting.
If SI wanted to go the lifetime achievement route, what about Mariano Rivera, whose retirement tour was celebrated across baseball throughout 2013?
As far as on-the-field exploits go, Joe Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP and beat Manning in that playoff game head-to-head although he hasn't quite lived up to that highest paid player in the NFL status in the 2013 regular season. Serena Williams won 2 more majors in 2013 to make it 17 for her career. Miguel Cabrera won his second straight AL MVP award and almost had back-to-back Triple Crowns. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo continued to shine on the world stage in soccer. Jimmie Johnson won yet another NASCAR championship.
What about the inspirational story of Louisville's Kevin Ware, returning to action after breaking his leg in the NCAA Tournament in front of a nationwide audience?
For an off the radar selection, the Fainaru brothers' work in concussion reporting for League of Denial may have the longest lasting impact of any work in sports this year.
Another inspired choice for Sports Illustrated could have been Robbie Rogers, Jason Collins, Tom Daley and other openly gay athletes coming out this year and beginning the transformation of the sports culture.
Of course, this is part of the trouble in trying to define what a "sportsman" is exactly. Is it the person who performs best on the field? Is it the person that best exemplifies integrity in the endeavor of athletics and inspires others? Is it someone that changes sports for the better? It's hard to pinpoint exactly. Whatever the criteria are, Manning falls somewhere in between all of them. Many others had more impact both on and off the field in 2013.
It's not that Peyton Manning did anything wrong this year, it's just that an award that purposely has a bit of a mythical nature to it could have looked to a choice for Sportsman of the Year that was more meaningful.
@awfulannouncing Nearly as pathetic as when he won NFL MVP awards seemingly by default in early 2000s. And Steve McNair had to share w/ him.
@thekapman who else is there Dave? The guy is coming off 4 neck surgeries & having back to back seasons for the ages! It's time he SI MOY
@awfulannouncing David Ortiz.
@thekapman who would be your choice kap?
@awfulannouncing Good article. But there is an auto-play audio/video that is hidden on every page on your site on iPad. Irritating.
@thekapman Meh indeed! How about Rafa Nadal? What he did in light of injury and comeback (especially compared to DRose) was amazing!
@awfulannouncing 1st person to win based on what he did for fantasy football players cause he didnt win anything else worthwhile this year
@awfulannouncing Not even a mention of LeBron, who should just win this by default every year? PM not even the best QB, much less player.
@awfulannouncing the boston story had already been written multiple times, that's why Ortiz was a no go. Why rewrite that whole story?
@awfulannouncing Let it go.
@awfulannouncing im thinking SI wanted free pizza for a year
@awfulannouncing Justin Tucker?
@awfulannouncing #1: Because Serena Williams exists.
@the_real_wazzy so many other worthy candidates than someone who is going to break a couple regular season records.
@the_real_wazzy tom Brady wasn't mentioned in the article if you actually read it
@willewis25 a couple season records...he's gonna break Brady's record for TDs. At the age he is and having 2 or 3 neck surgeries
@willewis25 I did and the only reason you tweeted it is because you think Manning gets more credit than Brady. I know you. Don't lie to me
@willewis25 baseball is completely different
@willewis25 he had a good not great year statistically. Nothing that remarkable about it. Had to give him MVP for the role he played
@the_real_wazzy and can say the same thing about Ortizs age
@the_real_wazzy World Series MVP, huge part of Boston strong campaign plus putting team on his back
@willewis25 not even a chance
@the_real_wazzy I did it because I believe Ortiz should have won it