ESPY Awards 2014 Results: Highlighting Underrated Winners from Wednesday Night

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

Russell Westbrook accepts the award for best comeback athlete at the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
John Shearer/Associated Press

Every ESPY award carries great clout.

The annual event is a massive undertaking each year, spanning all sports around the globe in a way that both acts as a great recap of the prior year's events and sheds light on feats both big and small.

With that in mind, fans can be forgiven for forgetting some of the awards dished out in the early portion of the event in favor of the ones near its conclusion.

They just so happen to be major accomplishments all the same, so let's take the time to review some of the more underrated honors dished out in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.


Auburn, Best Game

Just as SEC media days have taken the globe by storm, reminding us all that football is around the corner, Wednesday night provided a look back at the best moment from the 2013 season overall—the Iron Bowl.

An instant classic, there were not many who believed in Auburn going into a showdown with Nick Saban's dynasty. However, one Chris Davis kick return later, and the football world was turned on its head.

ESPYS 2014 revealed the award moments after the broadcast:

For those who somehow forgot, to get to that point, Auburn had to bounce back from a 21-7 deficit via a Tre Mason rushing touchdown and Nick Marshall strike to C.J. Uzomah just to set up the classic finish.

On stage Wednesday night, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made sure to break down why the moment was so special.

"It was a great game, the fact that we were playing our rival to go to the SEC Championship Game made it that much sweeter. On behalf of the guys back home, our coaches and our players, I just want to thank you for this award," he said.

The game itself was, by all definitions, a classic. The final play, thoughalready one generations will pass on to the next and perfectly recallhas now been immortalized at the ESPYs.


Peyton Manning, Best Record-Breaking Performance

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16:  NFL player Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, winner of the Best Record-Breaking Performance award, attends The 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/G
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Peyton Manning didn't take home the Male Athlete of the Year Award, but it's safe to presume he'll be alright without it.

All things considered, it has been quite the week or so for Mr. Manning, who was recently named the No. 1 overall player in NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2014" before going on to also take home the ESPY for the best record-breaking performance:

Yes, the numbers are impressive. Breaking records and etching one's name into the books over the likes of historic athletes who have come before him are always honors.

But to do it at 37 years of age, after countless surgeries, questions about his health and bucking all conventional wisdom with the best season of his Hall of Fame career is another thing entirely.

There was no competition for the award, and that was the only way to handle the situation. We may never see anything like what Manning did a season ago, and that's something worthy of being immortalized.


Russell Westbrook, Best Comeback Athlete of 2014

Look, Russell Westbrook was never going to win any fashion awards Wednesday night:

Unfortunately sandwiched between the Female Athlete of the Year Award and some awkward Drake-Skylar Diggins shenanigans, it can be easy to forget Westbrook even took the stage—strange clothing or not.

That's a shame, because the adversity he was able to overcome is more than noteworthy.

Westbrook went down early in the 2012-13 NBA playoffs with a torn meniscusa rather rare injury at that level, but one not all that surprising given his affinity for quick slashes and aggressive drives.

No matter, as the UCLA product was sidelined until November, returned and went on to shoot .448 from the field as well as average 21.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game.

There was no storybook ending with a title to close things out, but Westbrook's comeback was enough to inspire many and rejuvenate his team when it needed him the most. In other words, it was the perfect comeback from a realist's perspective.


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