A big category every year is the "Best Breakthrough Athlete" award. It has gone to some tremendous athletes over the years, like Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, and LeBron James. Then again, the award has also been a little too ambitious for some players as well. Like when Devin Hester won the award in 2007. I'm pretty sure he's not done anything too impressive in Chicago since winning the award.
This year, the list of nominees was very solid.
--Shawn Johnson (Olympic gymnast) - Silver medals in team AND individal all-around. She also won Dancing With the Stars this year.
--Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays) - Unanimous pick for Rookie of the Year in MLB. He set the post season home run record for first year players.
--Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) - NBA Rookie of the Year
--Matt Ryan (Dirty Birds) - NFL Rookie of the Year. QBed (a running) team to the playoffs. He landing super-masuline endorsement deal with Axe Hair Spray.
After reading the write-ups on these nominees, who would you pick? I'd have a really tough time picking between Shawn Johnson and Evan Longoria. Rose and Ryan honestly wouldn't even come to mind as deserving winners. How do you take the freaking RAYS to the World Series, after winning that impossible division, and NOT win? How do you win major medals for your country in the olympics as a team and indidual "player" and NOT win?
Better yet, how do you get enough credit to win this award just by playing QB for a team that lost in the Wild-Card round of the NFL playoffs? Joe Flacco was a rookie too, but he sure didn't get the kind of credit Ryan is getting. Flacco even took his team to the AFC Championship Game.
Could it have anything to do with the fact that Matt Ryan isn't funny looking like Joe Flacco??? What...could I actually have a good point here?! Ryan endorses products that 15 year old guys use, and he goes on Carson Daily's show to flirt with the host. Flacco (who was more deserving) is funny-looking, and has little commercial appeal...so he isn't going to even be mentioned. While we're at it, I'd like to see a defensive star get the nod for this award sometime. If the voters really looked at stats instead of popularity, Jerod Mayo could have been in the running too.
Congrats Matt Ryan. You just won the "Most Popular New Guy" Award!!! Your franchise has been in existence for 43 years, and NEVER have back-to-back winning seasons. You're not going to have another year like 2008 for a while.
BTW, I got this story added to a great website...Bleacher Report. Here's the link http://bleacherreport.com/articles/221344-best-breakthrough-athlete