Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Sportsmen of 2006 show excellence in all 12 months

Sports Illustrated got it all wrong. I love Dwyane Wade as much as the next guy, but he is not the Sportsman of the Year.

Wade's an amazing player and the Heat wouldn't have won the NBA championship without him, but how can he be named the one, the only, the best athlete of the year?

What's that? Who should it be, you ask?


There are so many more deserving individuals than Wade, but the beauty of sports is that many different people can steal the spotlight over the course of a year. That's what makes it so tough for SI to annually pick just one Sportsman.

So, I'll help break it down. Let's start by naming the twelve runners-up, who each receive individual honors for Sportsman of the Month, starting with last January and going into December.

January: Vince Young
Leading off this list is the guy who orchestrated one of the most entertaining football games of all-time: Vince Young.

The 2006 Rose Bowl featured two heavyweights in USC and Texas, but while golden boys Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush continually snatched up the headlines, Young stole the show by totaling 467 yards (267 pass, 200 rush) and rushing for one of the most memorable touchdowns ever as the Longhorns put an end to USC's reign, 41-38.

February: Ben Roethlisberger
Motorcycle accidents, an appendectomy and a disappointing regular season this fall can't mar the fact that Big Ben became the youngest quarterback in the history of the NFL to sport a Super Bowl ring.

No matter how bad this current season has been, one thing that can't be taken away is Roethlisberger leading the AFC's sixth seed to the Promised Land in the early part of this calendar year.

March: George Mason basketball team
Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, Connecticut: Those four teams have combined for eight NCAA championships and dozens of Final Four appearances.

Someone forgot to tell the George Mason Patriots, who defeated those squads en route to a dream tournament that culminated in the Final Four. The little mid-major team that could ended up losing to eventual national champ Florida and offered the world more than a fantastic thrill ride all the way to Indianapolis.

April: Dan Hawkins
With a few other worthy picks, I choose to offer April's distinction to Hawkins who (snicker) gave up the head coaching job at BCS-bound Boise State (ha!) to go coach (chuckle) the much-maligned University of (cue the laugh track) Colorado Buffaloes football team (you idiot).

Uh, Hawk, what the Buff were you thinking? Well, you'll get the consolation prize from me, April's selection for Sportsman of the Year (and by consolation, I mean the plastic ring at Chuck 'E Cheese worth four tickets). This is mainly because you had the cojones and the courage to try to resurrect a seemingly finished football program.

May: Rick Reilly
Reilly receives the nod this month for writing a column pleading for donations to a great cause in Africa.

According to Reilly's May column, 3,000 African kids die every day from malaria, and the problem could be drastically reduced with the mass purchase of mosquito nets to protect families in their homes.

Well, Reilly just gave us all an update in the last edition of SI. More than 17,000 people donated in excess of $1.2 million, which allowed for these mosquito nets to pretty much cover the entire country of Nigeria. Definitely one of the better stories of the year.

June: Cam Ward
This was a tough two-horse race and France loses out barely despite its World Cup triumph. Hopefully, this snub doesn't feel quite as painful as a Zinedine Zidane headbutt.

Cam Ward was a backup goaltender rotting on the bench, winning just 14 games in the 2005-06 regular season. But the 22-year-old rookie (22 years old!) finished the playoffs with an impressive 2.14 GAA and 15 wins en route to claiming the Conn Smythe Award and leading the Carolina Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup championship.

July: Tiger Woods
After missing the cut at the U.S. Open, and less than three months removed from the devastating loss of his father and mentor, Earl, Tiger pulled off the most emotional accomplishment of his career — winning the British Open.

Tiger dedicated his 11th major title to his father, and whether you were a Tiger lover or a Tiger hater, you couldn't help but root for Woods in this emotional tale.

August: Ryan Howard
Let me roll some numbers for you. On Aug. 1, the Philadelphia Phillies were 50-55, and 4.5 games back of the wild-card lead with six teams in front. On Sept. 1, the Phils were 67-66 and a mere half-game back of the Padres for the wild-card.

How did this happen? All Ryan Howard did was hit .348 and smash 14 HR, the final push he needed to claim the NL MVP award. The plump Philadelphia first baseman nudged out superstud Albert Pujols in the voting last November, and deservedly so for being a one-man show in Philly.

September: Drew Brees/Reggie Bush
I'll admit I'm sick of hearing about Hurricane Katrina, but the best sports story of the year was Brees and Bush so adamantly wanting to help a city in need, and they have done so on and off the field in rejuvenated New Orleans.

Their charming personalities and gracious off-field contributions speak for themselves. But the Saints are about to go marching in to the NFC playoffs, a feat thought impossible just a few short months ago.

October: Jim Leyland and the Detroit Tigers
The Tigers' postseason jubilation after knocking off the heavily favored New York Yankees in the ALDS says all you need to know. The players ran back out on to the field with their champagne and ecstatically celebrated with their die-hard (and, uh, bandwagon) fans.

Among the best moments: Kenny Rogers pouring a bottle of bubbly on a stadium security officer, and Jim Leyland being a good sport, kissing that wild fan who wanted a smooch on the cheek just after Leyland had embraced the win with his family.

November: Tony Romo
The preseason darlings of the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys, were middling Oct. 29 at 3-3, coming off a tough home loss to the hated New York Giants. America's team was on national television Sunday night, on the road against the dangerous Carolina Panthers, and was down 14-0 after 15 minutes.

Then Tony Romo happened.

In his first career start, Romo threw for 270 yards and led Dallas past the Panthers to a 35-14 win. The 'Boys haven't looked back since, as they now sit at 8-4 and look to be a favorite to represent the NFC in the Big Dance come February.

November was a great month for Romo, who went 3-1 helped by the official dethroning of the mighty Colts.

December: Vince Young
Yes, it's his second selection of the calendar year. December is still Young, so it's only fitting that Vince gets the nod here, mainly for his heroics in taking down those mighty Colts. Who-da-thunk it, the two QBs to defeat Peyton Manning this year are Tony Romo and Vince Young, of all people.

With back-to-back stunning wins over a couple of Manning brothers, Young has already capped a magical year. By the way, I think it's time both Manning, Leinart and members of the Houston Texans organization get together and have a beer, drink their troubles away … maybe throw a game of darts, with a picture of In-Vince-ible's face as the dartboard.

My 2006 Sportsman of the Year: Roger Federer
Federer is arguably the most dominating athlete on the planet (and by arguably, I mean Tiger is the only foe who comes close). My colleagues at the Herald and I have had a few heated debates over who's the greatest of them all, Roger or Tiger.

However, there are a few reasons why Federer is clearly superior. For one, Tiger's won Sportsman of the Year twice, in 1996 and 2000. It's time to give Roger his due.

Second, Tiger's had a few lapses in brilliance (re: missing the cut at the U.S. Open, albeit in mourning), while Federer barely broke a sweat to the tune of a 92-5 record and three more Grand Slam titles to his repertoire. This hasn't just been 2006: In the last three years, Federer has gone 247-15 (an unbelievable 94.3 percent success rate).

Lastly, I won't ignore Tiger's humble personality, as he is truly a role model for us all with his clean record and astonishingly genuine aura. But Federer has accomplished so much without saying or doing one wrong thing. How a man can achieve so much without ever losing his temper, his passion for the game or his unending respect for everyone around him, is beyond me.

Tiger may exude greatness and brilliance. But Roger Federer represents perfection.

So, who's your pick for Sportsman of the Year? Aaron is a sophomore majoring in journalism who doesn't think Federer can be matched by anyone … ANYONE. But, let's hear your nominations at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *