SI 2007 Sportsman of the Year: Sorry, But This Must Be a Joke

This image provided by Sports Illustrated shows Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre on the cover of the Dec. 10, 2007 issue of Sports Illustrated. Favre, the winningest quarterback of all time and the NFL's leader in touchdown passes, has been chosen as the 2007 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. (AP Photo/Sports Illustrated)

I’m not surprised.

Saddened. But not surprised.

Incensed. But not surprised.

My former colleagues named Green Bay QB Brett Favre their 2007 Sportsman of the Year today. Great guy. Great QB, and he’s having an unexpectedly great season. (At least he was until that little visit to Dallas at few days back.)

But, uh, Tony Dungy?? Great Guy. Great coach, and he won the freakin’ Super Bowl! He led his team, the Indianapolis Colts, to the biggest championship in pro sports a year after his teen-aged son committed suicide. A year after Dungy showed America what it was like to be a man of great faith in the midst of unspeakable tragedy.

And during that year – when he questioned whether he should coach again, comforted his wife and children, and dealt with his own great pain – Tony Dungy lived that faith, talked that faith and walked that faith, and he touched all of America as his team reached the pinnacle of its sport.

Tony Dungy was America’s coach.

And oh yes, he became the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl, and in doing so, achieved a milestone that stands alongside all the great firsts achieved by so many people of color throughout our nation’s tortured racial history. But to me, that’s secondary to the way he embodied being a man in the midst of the storm of storms. That’s why he was my selection for SI’s 2007 Sportsman of the Year. No-brainer.

But I don’t work there any more. That’s full disclosure for those who find this post and don’t know that 12 years of my professional life were spent at the magazine.

I was there long enough to not be surprised at this selection. Favre has long been a favorite of the top editors there. Years ago, when it looked as if his Hall of Fame career was done, as he fought on gamely while it looked like his prodigious skills had eroded and that he should perhaps retire, they were looking for ways to tout him.

In fact I chuckled when the magazine published the cover below in December, 2006, a year after I last departed. I chuckled because there had been discussions about a Favre cover touting “Leadership” as far back as when I was still there. When I saw the “For the Love of the Game” cover I said to myself: “They finally figured out a way to get that cover.”

Yeah, they love them some Favre over there at SI. Little did I know how much.

Too bad. They missed a great story. They missed a great opportunity. They missed a great man.

I’m not surprised.

But this cover now!
Dec. 4, 2006 - Brett Favre, the NFL's answer to Twain's barefoot antihero.

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15 thoughts on “SI 2007 Sportsman of the Year: Sorry, But This Must Be a Joke

  1. Roy, I agree with you. When I heard earlier today Favre “won” this I couldn’t help but think of Frank Caliendo and his Madden impressions with the non-stop Favre love. I like the guy, but come on…

    Dungy was a good nomination. How about also the most underappreciated current athlete right now…

    Tim Duncan. This time without having to share with David Robinson.

  2. Neil Menzies says:

    Favre? Are you serious?

    How about Roger Federer, the uber-Tiger Woods of tennis?

    How about the starting five for Florida’s Men’s Basketball team, for winning back-to-back titles for the first time since the Dookies in the early ’90s and creating as close to a dynasty as one can in the era of college basketball?

    I could go on….

  3. Juan says:

    Federer. This dude has gotten jobbed for this award each year. Let’s face it, the SI of yesteryear would have given this award to Federer. However, now since SI is being run by the former US Weekly staff, it’s hardly a publication worth reading.

    Favre? Cmon. No way.

    That being said, Dungy? Really? Cause he was a minority that won a Super Bowl? Hell, Tom Flores should have been Sportsman of the Year twice then. Cause he got there twice.

    Or for his faith? Since when is that a critial component of Sportsman of the Year?

    Faith in Jesus Christ last time I checked was not a critical part of the analysis.

  4. ben says:

    Here’s another vote for Federer. Is there anyone out there that dominates their sport the way that Roger does? All the while appearing so classy while he does it? A sportsman who demonstrates sportsmanship would seem to be the ideal.

    And while there is much to admire about Dungy, and he certainly appears to be a man of sincere belief, I can’t go along with calling him “America’s coach,” because I can’t get around his association with at least one “family” group that doesn’t believe that my family is worthy of the same basic rights and protections that most people get to take for granted. I’m sure I should leave politics out of it, but rather difficult to do. He’s not this American’s coach.

  5. […] Some folks out there stumped for Tony Dungy (and so did Mike Greenberg on ESPN yesterday), saying his accomplishment of being the first black coach to win the Super Bowl (along with his personal struggles and efforts […]

  6. Dirk says:

    Favre is a GOOD choice, maybe Dungy should be COACH of the year? Beyond that there are just to many worthy and great sportsmen out there, so if you limit something to one, it is going to leave some people dissapointed. I am pretty sure that TD can live without being selected, I think his legacy has only started as a coach, so his chance will come up and Duncan probably has many championships still in his legs.

  7. Daryl says:

    Tony Dungy took adversity head on and won. He represents the spirit of America. He should have been selected hands down.

  8. Killah says:

    How in blue hell did Roger Federer not get the award, oh wait a second, he hasn’t even been given one lousy cover by that biased magazine for god’s sake, even though he’s dominated sport for the last four years. Thats american sports journalists for you.

  9. Larry Keith says:

    My old friend and talented SI colleague Roy Johnson might also mention that the Sportsman of the Year Award has also served as career achievement recognition, notably Jack Nicklaus’ selection in 1978. The editors (actually the managing editor, his royal self) makes the call and is delighted when he can rescue the magazine’s credibility by honoring a five-star name that had been overlooked in the past. As for Federer, perhaps the magazine is waiting for him to win his first French, but believe me, he will be picked sooner or later. As for Dungy, Roy makes a compelling case. It convinced me.

  10. carl prather says:

    Why are you guys suprised? Wait for the next Heisman trophy winner. He too will be a surprise winner. But not to me. I know why Bret and the QB from Florida will win. Brota’s and sista’s wake up and smell the beer, cigars and liquor. It’s ‘their’ time becasue they are sick and tired of losing out to the folk who use be feed-at-the-bottom or not allowed to participate or compete at all. Now I don’t want to be accused of playing the ‘race’ card but a spade-is-a-spade-is-a-spade (NO PUN INTENDED). OJ will live on so we suffer and have to pay) until he’s burried more than six feet under and so we continue to pay for his freedom. They will never forget the one who they think got away. I for one never felt there was enough evidence to convict the brota. I don’t care for awards or award shows because as usual we have to be better-than-th-best and sometimes that’s still not enough. Black folk still believe in the amerikkan dream, apple pie, chevrolets and Harleys. Not me. Hotep. Olue Olufemi Chike.

  11. D Wright says:

    Alright already!! I got it. America has got it.
    Michael Vick is sentenced to 23 months. Let’s get on with life. My personal opinions are that YES, he got what he deserved for his involvement and Yes, he should forfeit alot more money along with his freedom but my question is: Why is there so much outrage over what he did as compared to say, what’s going on in Iraq?
    Now don’t get me wrong, I love dogs but I’d cut each and every one of Vick’s dogs into bite sized pieces in exchange for the life of just one of American Iraq vets who sacrificed his/her life for what Bush claims is ‘necessary’. WHERE’S THE PUBLIC OUTCRY OVER WHAT THESE HEROES ARE ENDURING? WHERE’S THE PICKET LINES AND AROUND THE CLOCK COVERAGE FOR THE ALMOST 5000 DEAD AND COUNTLESS NUMBERS OF SERIOUSLY INJURED AMERICAN MEN AND WOMEN THAT HAVE RISKED AND LOST THEIR LIVES?
    And Roy, one more question for you:
    I read lots of sports columns and I admit that I gravitate towards columns written by black writers. I regard you as tops in your class but I have to say: WHY IS IT THAT WHEN A BLACK ATHLETE IS WRITTEN ABOUT THESE DAYS, IT’S ABOUT SOMETHING NEGATIVE THAT THEY DID? MICHAEL VICK, BARRY BONDS, MARION JONES…THE LIST GOES ON. DID YOU SEE THE MAYWEATHER/HATTON FIGHT? WHAT ABOUT THE 2 THOUSAND SLOPPY DRUNK BRITISH THAT DISRESPECTFULLY BOOED THE SINGING OF AMERICA’S NATIONAL ANTHEM? (IN VEGAS MIND YOU ) TYRESE GIBSON SUNG HIS ASS OFF AND THEN MAYWEATHER BEAT THE SNOT OUT OF HATTON’S RACIST ASS. WHERE’S THE PRESS ON NOT ONLY THE ASSWHIPPING HE DISHED OUT BUT ON THE DISRESPECT?
    I guess 24 hours of the Michael Vick sentencing is more important, huh?

  12. Ah, see Favre represents the whole John Wayne white manhood thing. The grizzled vet. The ironman. The guy who plays the game “right”. Alas those same folks like to conveniently ignore the numerous picks he was throwing the past few years. But forget that, this year is a renaissance! He must be the ultimate representation of a Sportsman. There are so many other names, including Federer, who should have won. This award is a joke.

  13. The more I think about it, I think I can agree with the Favre pick. At first I wasn’t so sure, but it’s due to the fact that Green Bay is having a great year and also Brett broke TWO major career passing marks this year.

    Tony Dungy? Please. You have to make a better arguement than that Roy.

  14. Mike Smith says:

    I agree with the Favre choice, too. I admit, I’m a huge Favre fan, but Mike is right. Favre broke some major records this past season. He also had an incredible year. This coming from a guy who a lot of people thought was washed up and had reached his peak several years back. He came out of nowhere this year and came 3 points away from another trip to the big game. Favre is an “everyman” and a living legend all in one. Like it or not, he’s one of the best players to have ever played the game. I’m not saying he was the only one who deserved it – just that it was a good choice and it came at the right time.

    Mike Smith
    http://www.Favre4Sale.com

  15. Scoggin says:

    The Tiger Woods scandal (if you could call it that) has brought on the debate yet again regarding black men date white women

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