Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Dec 2005

SI to Name Tom Brady Sportsman of the Year

Scroll down. Way down. Brady is the first NFL-associated Sportsman of the Year since Don Shula in 1993 and the first NFL player since Joe Montana in 1990. For you fans of "East Coast Bias," this is the second straight Boston-related choice. For you fans of the Buffalo Bills, enjoy your cover jinx-related upset in Week 14.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 03 Dec 2005

44 comments, Last at 08 Dec 2005, 10:00pm by stan


by Glenn (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 12:49am

Would Peyton Manning have been a better Sportsman Of The Year?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:15am

This is odd. I could see Brady getting it after the 2001 or 2003 season, but this year? . I'll need to read the article to see what their reasoning was.

My guess is, it was the goat picture from GQ.

by Vash (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:19am

Brady? Why the hell is Brady the Sportsman of the Year?

He won a Super Bowl. So did 52 other guys wearing red, white, and blue. And one of them got an MVP award for that game.

Apparently, "best passing season ever" doesn't count for much these days.

by Vash (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:21am

Note: Third paragraph of above not related to second.

by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:24am

i don't think 'sportsman of the year' is reserved just for statistical performances by players.

how come lance armstrong hasn't won it? doesn't he have some good stats?

by djcolts (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:32am

Congratulations to Tom Brady. Because of the timing of the NFL season, it is tough for an NFL player to win the award. I have no problem with it - even as a Colts fan.

by JasonC23 (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:42am

Hmm, let's see...the Red Sox get it for ending an 86-year World Series drought.

The White Sox end an even longer World Series drought, so obviously, the Sportsman of the Year is...Tom Brady??


Bitter and Irrational White Sox (and Bears) Fan

by Kevo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 2:21am

Ah, well. I guess there's always next year for Dom Capers.

by Jesse (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 2:32am

What the heck? The guy who's led the Pats to a 6-5 record? uh

by James (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 2:41am

Without question, Lance shold have won it, hands down, without much consideration. However, I can seewhy a 7th rund draft pick who was overweight, too slow, and the "wind could blow him over" could win it. Peyton is great, but he doesn't have to spend too much time looking for any rings to put on, he hasn't won any and congrats to him lst yeasr for breaking Dan's recrod, great accomplishment, but he couldn't even throw one when it counted in NE against a makeshift defense..WOW. Tom now has three and yes, three in four years, not bad for a 6th rounder compared to a 1st rounder and the lst time I checked, he is leading the league in passing when every team knows they are one way offense, it is all on him without Dillon...yet he still has his team in 1st plavce in a weak divisiion but they are getting healthier now so I would hate to play them in the playoffs..they are proven winners and know how to win. So as much aas I am for Lance winning it (might show an ignorance towards the sport of cycling), TOm deserves it more ten Peyton and Chicago has a reason to be upset, but I would stil pick Lance over them. But the last time ir ead, the whole Chicago not winnnig it all was for the Cubs...Cubs this, Cubs that...and I hope they win it becuase being from Boston, it is such a release and an undescribable feeling...but it was always for the Cubs not the Sox...could be wrong but that is how the media portrays it.

by Pete (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 2:49am

Joey Harrington wasn't considered? His passer rating was..was...was great to the other team and to the turf...got to give him points for that...or the Giants kicker who had multiple times to win the game but someone moved the goalposts back at the last second..anyone see that guy?

by Purds (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 3:29am

This will make Brady happy. He's all about stats and awards -- doesn't care about winning, just throwing the ball all over. A real QB would have won that game against the Colts at home on MNF.

(Yes, I am being sarcastic. Good for him -- never strikes me as a bad sport, and he's the face of the Pats, rightly or not.)

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 8:33am

Lance Armstrong was Sportsman of the Year in '02.

Just so everyone understands, this award isn't about honoring an achievement, it's about selling magazines. SI does market research and determines whose face is likely to make people buy the magazine, and that's who is chosen. There was nothing inherently more sportsmanlike about the Red Sox winning the World Series than the White Sox, but the Red Sox have a lot more magazine-buying fans. Ten years ago, SI chose a couple of speedskaters, but that would never happen now. For more info on how SI has changed in recent years, read this:

by RCH (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:48am

Theoretically, at least, this award is not only about the "what" one has acheived but also very much about the "how" it was done. In addition to the obvious, I think its things like accepting a contract that is much less than he could command on the open market that make him a good choice. If the Colts win it all this year Manning would be a great choice, although 2 QBs in a row might be tough.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:55am

Ugh. There are still people who haven't heard the facts about Brady's contract? Peter King got this whole thing started with a false report that understated the cap value of Brady's deal by something like $15 million. A week later he corected himself when Len Pasquarelli told him he was wrong, but by then the misinformation had been repeated all across the football world.

Here are the facts: Over the next four years Brady is going to count $54.1 million against the Patriots' salary cap. Brady has done many, many great things to help the Patriots win, but signing a lowball contract is not one of them.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:14am

Just for comparisons' sake, Manning counts $56.6 million against the Colts' cap over the next four years. Both guys did very, very well for themselves in contract negotiations.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:42am

MDS: are you sure of *your* figures?

Brady's cap hit this year (source linked):

2007 and 2008 add up to about $25.8 million, but since those years are outside the current CBA, we could just as well call them $100 billion each.

Rounding all the fractional millions up, that's $49 million. Not sure where you got $54 million from. And the number to compare is $23 million, since 2007 and beyond are pure fiction, even more so than the usual salary-cap fiction.

Do you have a better source? Because as far as I can tell, you've got your dudgeon up with inaccurate figures. Admittedly, they're only a third as innacurate as Peter King's (albeit in the opposite direction) -- but is that the standard you want to meet?

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 12:10pm

By "next four years" I meant 2006-2009. If you want to examine 2005-2008, you're right about Brady, but Manning would then go down to $44.4 million. I was counting 2009 specifically because that's the year Manning's salary goes way up and I didn't want anyone to accuse me of arbitrarily cutting the term of the contract short to bolster my argument.

More importantly, you're also right that until we know what the next CBA looks like, reporting the long-term cap hit of any NFL contract is difficult at best and irresponsible journalism at worst. But whatever numbers you want to use, both Brady and Manning signed good contracts that will make them extremely rich and affect their teams approximately equally.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:00pm

MDS --

Giving everything I read about Brady's contract, my impression was that he left something around $1-$1.5 million (per annum) on the table. Not compared to Manning, not to Vick, nor Chad Pennington, but compared to what Kraft & company were willing to pay.

Obviously, that figure's not verifiable, and it's not a whole lot compared to the overall size of the contract.

The part of me that gets sentimental about my team, notes that it was enough so that the Patriots could make an offer to Troy Brown, large enough that he took it to stay in New England.

Manning's contract is very creatively structured, from a salary cap standpoint. The super-sized signing bonus probably put the Colts in a cashflow crunch that first year, but they've gotten beyond that, and the close-to-league-minimum salary figured give them room to do clever things like franchise Edgerrin James and sign Corey Simon. I don't like a whole lot of Bill Polian's public persona, but he's a heck of a cap manager.

by RCH (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:36pm

RE: Brady's contract

Granted, in the unlikely event that both guys were to completely play out both deals w/o any adjustments they will be ballpark similar. But he could have made a case to be the highest paid player in the league and he didn't. His signing bonus is a good bit less than Manning's, which obviously means that he is personally guaranteed less than Manning is. The two tiered nature of his bonus theoretically puts about 1/2 of the guaranteed money at risk (if he were to get seriously hurt this year).

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 1:51pm

RCH and Starshatterer, I think for the most part we agree on this. I think Brady is a team-first player, and I don't doubt that if he had wanted to act like T.O. he could have squeezed more money out of the team, but instead he thought he was getting good money and didn't want to sweat a few million more when he was already rich beyond his wildest dreams. I think the same is true of Manning, too. Basically, my only objection to all the talk of NFL player contracts is that we so often read generalities about contracts, and I wish reporters would do the extra work to tell us the specific clauses that will really affect the team's cap space in the long term.

Also, any time you read anything I write about contracts, remember that I'm a Lions fan whose blood pressure rises at the mere mention of Charles Rogers and the $20 million in cap space he's already cost Detroit. I'd gladly take Brady or Manning on the Lions at double their current contracts.

by Keith (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 4:09pm

There was actually one SI columist promoting TO for Sportsman of the Year; he even wrote a column on their website about it. How great would that have been?

If i did it right the link should be in my name or whatever.

by Al Bogdan :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:23pm

Pretty poor selection by SI. There's no reason to give it to Brady.

What about McNair and Favre for all the work they've done helping Katrina victims? Don't think that would have sold a few copies? How about Roger Federer, who had as good of a year as any male player has ever had in tennis?

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:28pm

In fairness to the guy who wrote the T.O. column, he wrote it at the beginning of November, before the whole thing blew up. Which doesn't make it right, just not nearly as wrong as you'd think.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:31pm

I take that back. You can check the link for the column I was talking about. As for the one Keith linked to...well, that's not how I understand the word "Sportsman".

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:46pm

I like the idea of picking an athlete who helped out with Katrina relief. That would be in the spirit of the original intent of the award. What really changed the feel of the Sportsman of the Year forever was when they made Tiger Woods the only two-time winner. I have nothing against Tiger Woods and I thought it was fine when he won it the first time because his success had done a lot to change perceptions of who golfers are. But the second time, it was really, really obvious that the reason he was chosen was that market research showed he sold a lot of magazines.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 6:01pm

There’s no reason to give it to Brady.
Uh, what?

I can understand why you might prefer somebody else, and certainly the folks you mention are worthy choices. But Brady kinda had a good year himself (the 2004 season), and has also raised money for charity from time to time.

"No reason" is so much of a stretch, you're in danger of pulling something. ;-)

by patrick inquebec (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:15pm

couple of peyton fans crying, just jealous, manning choke this year in playoffs.

Brady deserve this title

by Al Bogdan :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:23pm

I don't understand using Brady's 2004 season as a reason for him winning the award for 2005.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:43pm

Al Bogdan (#29 )--

Oh, come on, now. You write for this site. You *do* know that the 2005 season is still ongoing, yes? Meaning that 2004 is the last complete season we can judge?

I already said that after the 2003 season (you know, the 2004 award) was a more appropriate time for Brady. Well, he didn't get it then, so maybe this is a combination "oops-we-missed-it-last-year" + lifetime achievement award.

Maybe the SI people thought that the 3 Superbowl rings before his 28th birthday was noteworthy. Maybe they though his looks and charm would sell more copies.

Again, I ask, "No reason"? Really? None at all? Not even a bad one?

by Al Bogdan :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 12:50am

Fine, "no reason" was a bit of hyperbole. By "no reason" I meant that if I can give you a dozen names off the top of my head, including quite a few football players, who would be better picks than Brady, it's idiotic to give the award to Brady. Giving it to Brady last year, after winning his second Super Bowl and on his way to his third, would have made more sense than it does now.

My alternative candidates:

Peyton Manning, who had a better 2004 season than Brady, except for that whole Super Bowl thing, and is currently leading his team to an undefeated record. The aforementioned Favre and McNair who did a lot for the Katrina relief efforts. Warrick Dunn, who
regularly gives more back to the community each year than most athletes, or regular people for that matter, do in their lifetime. T.O., whose 2005 will be long remembered more than Brady's will. If you really want to give it to a Patriot for the three championships in four years, why not give it to Belichick who somehow slapped together a Super Bowl winning defense last year despite numerous injuries? Or give it to Tedy Bruschi for coming back to play eight months after suffering a stroke.

As for other sports, baseball has Ozzie Guillen for winning a championship in Chicago, or someone involved in the steroid scandal like Palmeiro, Selig, or even John McCain. You could have picked some of the people in hockey who were responsible for ending the longest strike in US team sport history. Roger Federer or Annika Sorenstam, for their complete domination of their respective sports. Kelly Slater, for winning his seventh world surfing championship at 33, the oldest champion ever.

I don't know why I'm so worked up over this, I let my subscription to SI run out earlier this year so I won't even read the issue. I guess I'm just disappointed more than anything.

SI isn't officially announcing this until Dec. 9. How pissed must they be that the Pats leaked this info on their website a week and a half before the official announcement? If they get a lot of backlash for this decision, would they be willing to do an about face and give the award to someone else?

by Al Bogdan :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 1:00am

"Idiotic" was an exaggeration as well.

Who would your top 5 picks for "Sportsman of the Year" have been yesterday (or two days ago depending on when you read this), before the Brady information was leaked out? My top 5:

4)Baseball steroids folks (Palmeiro/Selig/McCain/Canseco)

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 4:31am

Tom Brady will sell magazines...all the New Englanders can put the magazine on their shelf between their Steve Grogan autographed football and their deluxe copy of Fever Pitch...

As far as I'm concerned, he's not a bad choice, but Federer should get it more. If not him, I'd like to see Tim Duncan have a shot at it as well...

Finally, to answer the taboo question, I think Peyton would be better both for his record breaking year last year, his undefeated team this year, and the fact that he did a ton of stuff for Katrina...

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 11:12am

Who would your top 5 picks for “Sportsman of the Year� have been yesterday (or two days ago depending on when you read this), before the Brady information was leaked out?
I'm not qualified. I know approximately squat about an awful lot of sports.

Roger Federer, he plays tennis, right? Beats me why he would or wouldn't win this award, the Newberry prize in children's literature, or a kick in the leg. I don't folow tennis.

Add to that NASCAR, soccer, bass fishing, cycling, golf, bowling, poker, any winter sports, "extreme" anything, and my list begins to look like, well, a bunch of pro football players or coaches.

And, to be brutally frank, I'd be a lot more impressed with the Katrina fund-raising efforts, if the players involved were doing something other than getting people to give money to those players' own family, friends, and hometown neighbors. Sure, it's mighty noble of them, but it ain't exactly moving to Calcutta to care for the sick and dying, either.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/05/2005 - 3:52pm

When I started paying attention to sports in the sixties, it was an absolute article of faith in the pundit/idiot class that a dominant center was necessary to win an NBA title. The idiot pundits most responsible for this BS were those from the Northeast who worshipped at the altar of the Boston Celtics.

Over the years, however, we can all count how many rings are owned by centers such as Bill Cartwright, Will Perdue and Robert Parrish. So we don't hear that particular bit of stupidity very often any more.

Of course, the idiot pundit class has moved on to different pearls of "wisdom". Now they tell us that in football, defenses win championships, games are won or lost in the trenches, coaching makes the difference in big games and Tom Brady ranks with Joe Montana as the greatest QBs to ever play the game because his team won 3 Super Bowls.

I think Brady ranks right up there with Bill Cartwright and Will Perdue. All of them won 3 rings playing the position that the wise pundits told us is critical to winning a championship.

by hart lee dykes (not verified) :: Mon, 12/05/2005 - 5:29pm

Just to clarify, the Red Sox did not win the SI Sportsman of the Year last year, Red Sox Nation (whatever that is) did.

I think Brady is as good a choice as anyone else, though I am obviously biased. Not that it is a slam dunk that he's the choice, but King makes a good point why football players are always going to be disadvantaged in winning the award.

As for giving it to athletes who contributed to Katrina find raising efforts, that would have been a fine (but different) path for SI to chose. But, even though the award is the "Sportsman" of the Year, most of the time it has very little to do with sportsmanship or "off the field" stuff and everything to do with on the field accomplishment (take away the one year 15 years ago or so when they gave it to "athletes who care).

Anyway, the bottom line is there is no specified criteria for the award I am aware of, SI can chose anyone they want, and historically it basically has been given to an athlete who had a special year in some way or another. I honestly think Brady would have gotten it last year and would have been more deserving, coming off the 2nd Super Bowl win and in the season of the 21 game win streak. I view this as more of a recognition of what he's done so far in his career rather than recognition for what he did in 2005.

As for Brady being Will Perdue, c'mon. QB is a pretty important position. Maybe he's not Montana, but I think at this point we can put aside the stuff about him being a system QB who relies on a great defense. Brady is a pretty good player.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2005 - 12:46am

Now having read Peter King's article (linked), it's something of a lifetime achievement award. King puts forward three reasons:

1. Is all sorts of lifetime achievment, comparing touchdowns, victories, and Superbowl wins with Montana at the same point in his career.

2. Is what a swell guy Brady is, "spreading the wealth" by having receivers and linemen appear in commercials with him, and by not taking Robert Kraft to the cleaners for his contract extension.

3. Is something about what a competitor Brady is, but it comes out like he's insane instead.

Maybe he frightened all the SI writers into their choice.

by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 3:40pm

I keep reading about Brady's charm and that he is a good guy. After the MNF blowout to the Colts, Brady went in front of the national media and pulled an immature, classless, bush-league stunt. He spoke for a few seconds and stalked out without taking any questions. Apparently, Brady only has class and charm when his team wins.

However, the Brady-worshipping suckups in the media somehow failed to report this to the fans. Wouldn't want to tarnish the image they've created.

Sportsman of the year, my ass. How 'bout the most over-rated athlete in the history of professional sports?!

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:05pm

Stan (#38 )--
Sportsman of the year, my ass.
Kind of you to offer, but he has a girlfriend already. ;-)
How ’bout the most over-rated athlete in the history of professional sports?!
Not even in the history of pro football.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:45pm

Stan must be a Colts fan. :-)

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:49pm

You must be relatively new to the boards -- stan is not only a Colt fan, he has intimated in the past that he is a casual acquaintance of the Manning family, or at least Peyton, from his days at Tennessee.

Read the most-discredited thread in FO history if you must; you'll get quite a kick out of it. I just wish the flames didn't keep popping up all over the place; do we really have to turn a discusssion of Brady winning an award into another front in that silly war?

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:54pm

Now they tell us that in football, defenses win championships, games are won or lost in the trenches.....


Are you saying that games are not won in the trenches? I guess I'm not exactly sure what that means, but has it been proven that you can win in the NFL without quality linemen?

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:41pm

I have no problem with Brady winning the award. However, a couple of comments in the magazine did piss me off.

So here is my Letter to the Editor at SI.

Instead of simply celebrating Tom Brady's great achievements (Sportsman of the Year issue, Dec. 12), editor Terry McDonell and author Charles Pierce took the opportunity to make critical comparisons to Peyton Manning, which were both unfair and unnecessary. However, they neglected to mention another Brady-Manning comparison that is very relevant-- while Brady spent his off-season doing GQ photo shoots and getting his buddies in TV commercials, Manning spends time raising funds for The Peyback Foundation, which has contributed a large amount of money to many youth organizations in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana since the foundation's inception in 1999.

by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 10:00pm


Last season, the Colts lost 3 O-line starters for significant stretches during the last half of the season. One missed 9 games and was replaced by an undrafted rookie free agent.

Colts had a weak line to begin with, lost several starters to injury, yet still won the AFC South again. I guess the old adage about winning in the trenches is true -- unless you have a QB who can create a running game with his execution and complete passes even when pass rushers routinely come unblocked. But I only know one QB who has ever been able to do that.