November 30, 2004

Who do the fans say should be the 2004 Sports Illustrated "Sportsman of the Year"? The usual suspects (Michael Phelps and Lance Armstong) are #1 and #2. But may I suggest the one who is currently #3?

"Has there ever been a bigger team than Pat Tillman? Following his conscience and not his agent's advice or his ego, Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million contract to play for the Arizona Cardinals and joined the Army to fight terrorism after the 9/11 attacks. When he was summoned to fight for his country, he didn't flinch, reporting for boot camp and then doing a tour of duty on the other side of the world. Throughout, he refused to grant interviews lest anyone think it was a publicity stunt. (He even enlisted in Denver, not Phoenix, in order to go unnoticed.) On April 22, he was killed in fighting in Afghanistan, dead at age 27. All too often, the sports world traffics in ancient terms such as duty, honor, sacrifice and hero. This is one case when they're more than fitting. As Lyle Setencich, one of Tillman's coaches, put it: The spirit of Pat Tillman is the heart of this country." Cast your online vote here. You have to scroll down the picture list and then select Pat Tillman (if that's who you want). They appear to be in alphabetical order. You can read the bios on the different ones before voting. To read an opinion piece in support of Pat Tillman, read Tim Layden's piece.

  • I nominate Ron Artest. He's a man of sport who was instrumental in creating the most significant sports story of 2004 (to be more than a little US-centric, admittedly). (btw I just read that the cops have IDed the chair thrower.) I'm going to avoid starting the conversation about whether Tillman's sacrifice was intelligent or "what's great about America" or not. (Though I do admire his willingness to put his money where his mouth was in terms of ideals.)
  • ME!
  • I think Sportsman of The Year should go to someone who excelled in their sport, so that rules out Tillman. I voted for Ichiro Suzuki. 262 hits is crazy.
  • Suzuki? Not bad, but I wouldn't call him the best in baseball. You know they had to give it to the Sox, though. They broke an 86-year losing streak, complete with nifty curse story. I'm not saying they really are the sports(persons) of the year, but really, what did you expect?
  • I understand the sentiment, but I think that glorifying a guy for giving up "big bucks" to serve in Afghanistan sends the wrong message. I can't quite articulate it, but he gave up much more than money. His family (and all families who have lost loved ones in armed conflict) would give any amount of money to be reunited with their loved ones, and any soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice gave up the ultimate - regardless of how much money he was making prior to being placed in harms way. If Tillman didn't want to be a poster boy for his actions BEFORE he left, I doubt that he would desire it now. To do so makes it seem that his sacrifice was any better or bigger than that of any other fallen serviceman, and he doesn't seem to have been the kind of guy who would favor such a message.
  • Count me as being against the Red Sox for any curse-related reason. I am a lifelong baseball fan, but associating a group of millionaires who were assembled over the course of a couple of years with groups of players who played for a single team together for 10-15 years is just silly. Modern baseball is such that the most hated players of your favorite team will be on your favorite team the next year. Cheering on the same team year after year used to mean cheering for the same players or a style of play. Now cheering for the same team year after year means you are cheering for the team name or emblem. Everything else is subject to change.
  • If Pat Tillman deserves the sportsman of the year, then so does every other poor bastard who gave up their lives to serve this country. I don't see Pat Tillman as the ultimate hero of the Iraq conflict, more as the one with the best PR machine.
  • I don't believe in giving the award to a team, either. It's sportsman (gender neutral) of the year, so it goes to an individual. Lance Armstrong would be my #2 choice, even though I'm not a cycling fan. I like how they put Jerome Iginla in there as the token hockey player...what the hell did he accomplish this year?
  • Correction- Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts
  • I don't want to detract from Pat Tillman, but I agree with rocket88. Tillman wasn't that remarkable on the football field, most Americans didn't know who he was before he went to war. My vote goes to Tom Brady.
  • Roger Federer