This past Wednesday night, ESPN held its 17th annual ESPY award show, during which the media outlet hands out awards for athletic and other achievements it deems worthy of conferring. The awards used to be voted on only by fans, but since 2004, sports writers, broadcasters and other experts also vote.
This year, the ESPY for Best Male Athlete went - somewhat predictably - to Drew Brees. This award is presented to the male sportsperson, irrespective of nationality or sport contested, adjudged to be the most outstanding in a given year. Past winners of the award include Lance Armstrong (4 times), Tiger Woods (4 times) and Michael Phelps.
After the jump, I'll explain why I think Brees was the absolute right selection for this award.
First, the athletic accomplishment of playing a physical game, at a high level, for 21 weeks with few breaks is nothing to be scoffed at. Brees battled back from a shoulder dislocation suffered in 2005 to eventually fling the ball 514 times in 2009, completing for 4388 yards. This he did while escaping the likes of Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, and of course Dwight Freeney (hobbled though he was).
But the primary reason I support his getting the award is his leadership. Brees was at the helm of a team that won the annual tournament pitting some of the greatest athletes against one another in what I consider to be the best sport on Earth. He was heralded for his leadership, both on and off the field, and even I got pumped up by his pre-game chants. In the wake of the Tiger Woods debacle, LeBron James' self-promotion and the Ben Roethlisberger case, it is refreshing to focus attention on someone who tirelessly helps his community, is humble, and has the rare ability to speak his mind without sounding preachy.