There isn't much comparison to what Peyton Manning is doing this year.
At 37, following multiple neck surgeries, he is turning in what is probably going to end up the greatest regular-season performance in NFL history. He has the fourth-most touchdown passes (47) in a season, with two games to go. His 4,811 yards are already 12th best all time. He needs 666 yards to break Drew Brees' record for yards in a season. His 112.9 rating is fourth all time. He'll win his unprecedented fifth MVP award. The season the Denver Broncos' star quarterback is having is unique in many ways.
And for his incredible 2013, Manning was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. He's just the eighth professional football player to win the award. The announcement was made at halftime of NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
The argument against Manning winning the award is the same one that follows him everywhere: He didn't win the Super Bowl during 2013. In all but one of his NFL seasons, that has been the criticism. Never mind that he didn't blow the coverage when Baltimore's Joe Flacco tied last season's playoff game in the final minute with a miracle pass. The lack of multiple titles always be the knock on Manning, although he has a chance to change that this season.
The championship issue is why people might argue Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz should have won SI's award. He had a great postseason, helped his team to a World Series and his best moment of the year was probably his memorable speech after the Boston Marathon bombing. He might not have been the most valuable player on the Red Sox (second baseman Dustin Pedroia led the team in wins over replacement, also known as WAR), but he has a big personality and the SI award isn't just about on-field performance.
Miami Heat star LeBron James was deserving, but he won last year. Sports Illustrated's Peter King said Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera was considered too, and the retired closer would have been a fine choice.
But again, what Manning is doing is pretty tough to deny. He has the great human interest story of coming back from the neck issues. He has reinvented his game because he doesn't have the dynamic physical skills he did years ago. He is universally respected, is the highest profile player in the wildly popular NFL, and is having an all-time great season.
Manning was Sports Illustrated's choice for Sportsman of the Year. It's hard to say it was a bad pick. But do you think it was the right one?
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