Some years the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year is an easy choice. Michael Phelps in 2008, the U.S. women's soccer team in 1999, Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995. Other times the choice is so uninspiring that you can practically feel the editor's hand-wringing. (Dwyane Wade in 2006?) This was one of the easy years.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named Sports Illustrated's 2010 Sportsman of the Year on Tuesday, by virtue of his Super Bowl MVP performance and the good works he and his charity have done for the people of the city.
"Drew's accomplishments go far beyond delivering a Super Bowl title to a notoriously long-suffering franchise," SI group editor Terry McDonell said. "He has been a driving force in a battered city's ongoing efforts to rebuild and renew while simultaneously resurrecting his own career."
[Rewind: Welcome to the SI cover curse, Boise State ]
Brees' charity, The Brees Dream Foundation, was established in 2003 to support cancer research and the education of children in need. It has donated millions to rebuilding schools, funding cancer centers and aiding in programs to help intellectually disabled adults.
[Cute photo: Drew Brees and his toddler celebrate big win]
The whole "Saints as saviors of New Orleans" story line was overplayed throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They're just football players, after all, and though they provided a welcome distraction from the harsh realities brought upon by the natural disaster, nothing they did on the field was going to build houses or erase the horrific memories of those first few weeks. The continued off-field work of Brees (and other New Orleans athletes like Hornets All-Star Chris Paul) shows that sports do matter.
[Rewind: Oprah's awkward moment with Brees]
SI's award is another well-deserved honor for one of the NFL's good guys.
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