In other words, what Yank athlete, coach, or owner has had the most impact (positive) on the sporting world this year?
Could it be the man who was the first in 20 years, to restore UND to the pinnacle of college football? It will be neither Eli Manning nor LeBron James. I also doubt they'll award it to Michael Phelps (or even Gabby Douglas).
That's why SI calls it "Sportsman of the Year", because SI defines a sportsman as an athlete, coach, team or influential person who embodies sportsmanship and achievement. I wonder if Lance Armstrong was asked to return his trophy?
'Since its inception in 1954, Sports Illustrated magazine has annually presented the "Sportsman of the Year" award to "the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement." Both Americans and non-Americans are eligible, though in the past the vast majority of winners have been from the United States. Both men and women have won the award, it being renamed as "Sportswoman" or "Sportswomen," such as 1999 when the U.S. Women's Soccer Team was named Sportswomen of the Year.'
True Manning vignette: last fall I was leaving an upscale NYC hotel where I had had dinner and had the doorman call me a cab. He started to go out and whistle one down, then said "oh, just a minute" as a town car pulled up. A rather elegantly dressed woman of my age (yes, nearly dead) got out and went into the hotel.
Doorman, wide-eyed, says, "Do you know who that was?!"
I, not being a supermarket-checkout-line magazine reader figure it's a Kardashian or the like and respond that I don't.
He says, almost frothing at the mouth, "that was Payton Manning's mother!!!!"
I said, "Uh, isn't she also Eli Manning's mother?"
He, clearly being a hardcore Jets fan, responds in NYC style you thought only existed in satire, "Who gives a fuck?!"
Another Eli Manning story. Until my recent move, I lived about a block from Eli in Hoboken. This happened back the year before the Giants won their first Super Bowl with Eli. He had had a fairly mediocre season, and the Giants had missed the playoffs.
The Florida Gators (where I went to grad school) were playing Ohio State for the football national championship. I decided to put on some Florida gear and go to the sports bar around the corner. There is an open seat at the bar, and across the way are a number of football looking guys. I didn't recognize them, so I just ignored them. A number of people were going over to them, so curiosity got the better of me. I asked the two guys next to me. Me: You know who those football looking guys are over there? Guy 1: Where? Oh, that's Eli Manning. Guy 2: Hey that is Eli Manning. Want to go over and tell him that he sucks? All of us laughed.
I don't think I will ever be able to root for Eli Manning. Ever. I don't hate Eli; I liked him when he was at Ole Miss, but I just can't root for him for the same reason that I couldn't root for Steve Francis or John Elway - because they broke the unwritten rule and refused to sign with the teams that drafted them. Archie Manning was one of the puppet masters behind that.