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 wrong selection for this award.
While Brees' athletic accomplishments are indeed fantastic, I think that the athleticism required to play the quarterback position is surpassed by that required to play in the trenches. In particular, I believe that those who play on the defensive line are consistently challenged athletically more in every game, on every snap, quarter-to-quarter, than any other player on the field. Defensive linemen must exert strength and leverage, spinning and swimming their way toward the quarterback. It seems that the power and movement required to push forward and try to step around the O-Line is more difficult than playing on the other side, where you can anticipate and absorb the surge. So if I were voting, I would look first to the defensive line and choose from amongst those players.
But really, I would probably stay away from the game of football to begin with - I believe that the fittest, strongest, and most graceful athletes can be found on the basketball court. These guys are constantly active, essentially doing 60 minutes of wind sprints, while having to push and shove each other out of the way to gain an advantage driving to the basket. Then, when they are near the basket with the ball in their hands, they contort their bodies to avoid blocks and have to put just the right amount of touch on the ball to get it into a relatively small basket.
I don't watch basketball nearly enough to opine on who should be considered the best athlete in that sport, but I suspect that someone like Dwight Howard, Steve Nash or Ray Allen would be a good choice for both athleticism and leadership.