The ESPYs' "Best Breakthrough Athlete": Brought to You by Axe Body Spray

Casey BeamanContributor IJuly 21, 2009

Surprisingly enough, the ESPY Awards continued to entertain again this year. Most of what ESPN puts out bugs me and comes across like they're trying too hard.

However, when you put (Vol fan) Samuel L. Jackson behind the mic to introduce sports highlights all night...I'm in!

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 hasn't done anything too impressive in Chicago since winning.
This year, the list of nominees was very solid.
  • Shawn Johnson (Olympic gymnast) - Silver medals in team AND individual 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. As a QB, led a running team to the playoffs. He landed a super-masculine endorsement deal with Axe Hair Spray.
After reading the write-ups on these nominees, whom would you pick? I'd have a really tough time picking between Shawn Johnson and Evan Longoria. Rose and Ryan would honestly not even come to mind as deserving winners.
How do you take the 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 individual "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 too much of, 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 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 existed for 43 years, and NEVER had back-to-back winning seasons. You're not going to have another year like 2008 for a while.