Photo courtesy: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil
Last night in Los Angeles, ESPN and ABC had the 2017 ESPY Awards, hosted by Peyton Manning. While I have no doubt Manning did a fantastic job as host, I didn’t watch the awards. With three of the four major sports in the offseason and the MLB on their All-Star break, this is largely seen as a down time for sports—although Wimbledon is currently going on; and the ESPYs are considered the biggest sports award show in the world. But I do not plan on watching ESPN’s award show again, and last night was no different.
So let’s go through each award and decide who should have won some of the major awards at the 2017 ESPYs.
Best Male Athlete
Real candidates (winner in italics): Russell Westbrook, Kris Bryant, Sidney Crosby, Michael Phelps
Russell Westbrook had an awesome season, becoming the first player to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson in 1961-1962. However, the real winner should have been Tom Brady or Michael Phelps, in my opinion. Phelps won five more gold medals during the 2016 Summer Olypics in Rio, further solidifying himself, by far, as the greatest Olympian ever. Meanwhile, Brady had one of his greatest seasons (throwing an NFL-record TD:INT ratio 28 touchdowns and two interceptions) and capped it with his fifth Super Bowl. Both Brady and Phelps are in the argument for greatest athlete of all-time, and they were both at the top of the game—one of them deserve best male athlete.
Best Female Athlete
Real candidates: Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Candace Parker, Serena Williams
It’s hard to argue with either Biles or Ledecky winning this one. They each won four gold medals each during the 2016 Summer Olympics while representing the United States. Ledecky also set a dozen records in her freshman year at Stanford, where she won a national championship. I might’ve given it to Ledecky over Biles, but there are fair arguments for both.
Best Championship Performance
Real candidates: Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, Shay Knighten, Deshaun Watson
Wow is this a tough one. Kevin Durant played lights out, including a dagger three in Game 3, on his way to his first championship. Shay Knighten was clutch for Oklahoma in their national championship win. Deshaun Watson slayed the dragon, capping his legendary college career with a national title of his own. They all showed ice in their veins, but Tom Brady gets the nod, slightly, for me. While for over a half Brady didn’t play his best game, when he got on a roll it was over for the Falcons. The defense obviously did an outstanding job keeping New England in the game and making huge plays of their own. But because of how unstoppable Brady and the offense were at the end of the game—when he got the ball to start overtime, you just knew it was over—Tom Brady had the best championship performance.
Best Breakthrough Athlete
Real candidates: Dak Prescott, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Laurie Hernandez, Aaron Judge, Christian Pulisic
Dak Prescott plays the toughest position in sports for a team with one of the biggest spotlights in sports. Yes, the offensive line and strong running game makes things easier, but Prescott far surpassed expectations during his rookie season. The other people up for the award were all deserving too—Laurie Hernandez won a gold medal at 17 (she was born in the year 2000…)—but as someone Joe Buck called the most impressive young player he’s ever met, the Cowboys quarterback is a solid choice.
Real candidates: Golden State Warriors, Chicago Cubs, Clemson Tigers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New England Patriots, South Carolina Gamecocks (NCAAW), U.S. Women’s Gymnastics
No one will argue the Golden State Warriors, who won the award, were a dominant team. All these teams won titles and were awesome over the last year, but the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team was the best. Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian absolutely dominated during the Rio Olympics, winning the team final with a team total of 8.209 points, by far a record. The previous record of 5.066 points, which was set in the 2012 London Olympics, was totally blown away by the “Final Five.”