This is the second act of yesterday’s discussion on the most pressure-ridden athletes in North American pro team sports relative to the intensity of local media scrutiny, their fan and franchise expectations, personal performance and salary earned.
The first piece shed evidence on why Alex Rodriguez of the NY Yankees and Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers are deserved nominations for the undesirable candidacy, while Beckham, was the shoe-in for the MLS.
Honourable mentions went to C.C. Sabathia, whose new contract and the Big Apple limelight will bring hefty expectations on the ex-Brewer next year, and the still young LeBron James who is attempting to usurp Jordan’s claim as the greatest ever.
On that note, enter Sidney Crosby, another phenom prodigy hailed as the next coming of ‘The Great One.’
No Kid, It’s Not Sid
But Crosby, like LeBron, misses the number one mark. Like James, his time will undoubtedly come. Like James, he too has already appeared in the Championship Finals, albeit co-starring fellow triggermen Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa. And like James, Crosby’s proven play along with his youth afford him time before the true pressure mounts.
Roberto Luongo is another runner-up and a merited mention as not only a goaltender, but uncharacteristically for the position, a captain as well. He is in contention to vie for the top spot, but for the moment he leads a team with only gradually mounting expectations. Step one for the Canucks will be making the playoffs, the aim— to qualify in the Conference’s top eight, not to finish first overall.
So who is left? No, the answer is not Sundin. Mats has felt no pressure whatsoever as he finally put an end to his nine month non-retirement retirement.
No, it’s time for some controversy, and it comes in the form of the Montreal Canadiens’ Alex Kovalev.
Kovy is not Sidney Crosby, nor Alexander Ovechkin. He is however, under an immense load of pressure.
Certainly criticism of this selection will arise, but in careful consideration of the context of the question, Kovalev is a legitimate selection for the NHL’er under the most pressure not in the long run, but this year.
Following a career year in the 2007-08 campaign, Kovalev at age thirty-six, dawns the burden of not only repeating his numbers but is expected to carry the team to a Stanley Cup title. But while opponents’ defensive weariness is high, Kovalev’s production thusfar remains low.
In an already media-frenzied city and the home of hockey, the pressure is increasingly heightened in the Centennial year of a franchise who in the past has made a habit of raising championship banners, (second all-time winningest franchise behind the Yankees with 24 Cups), and is starving for another, its first in fifteen years.
The problem for Kovalev is that the expectations of Habs fans, (as opposed to the dreams of the Yankee and Laker hopeful in their stars) are in all likelihood unrealistic. With all his talent, Kovalev is the Chosen One more out of necessity than virtue.
A magician with the puck, Kovalev is nevertheless being styled for something that he is not. The only thing worse than bearing the expectations of Sidney Crosby is bearing them when you are not him.
NFL; Romo Bears Target
Finally, welcome Jessica Simpson and beau Tony Romo.
Romo heads a long list of quarterbacks who stake legitimate claim for the toughest job in sports. Peyton and Eli, Favre, new starters Cassels and Rodgers, Roethlisberger, McNabb.
The role of the quarterback by its very nature as the central catalyst position in the most team orientated sport commands deserved attention and parallel pressure.
And the expectations of the media and market in Dallas are overwhelming as the star-studded Cowboys squad (already under heavy scrutiny carrying the likes of Terrel Owens and Pacman Jones), much like Romo himself, struggle with controversy and injury.
Long overdue for a Super Bowl appearance in the minds of the Cowboys faithful who were used to the team’s dominance in the 1990s, Dallas remains hinged on the performance of their oft-inconsistent gunslinger.
But Romo isn’t all too dissimilar from A-Rod, laden with talent, but without making it count in the crunch.
His botched endgames, including the missed hold on the field attempt and subsequent failed end zone rush in the 2006 NFC wild card playoff round, air on every ‘misplay of the day’ countdown screening.
While his last-play interception in the 2007 Jessica Simpson-distraction-divisional playoff game—another loss in a long postseason winless streak— was equally symbolic of his big game collapses to date.
Don’t Let the Pressure Get to Ya’
All of these men of talent here discussed, Becks, A-Rod, Kobe, Kovy and Romo, are mere mortals but with giant expectations; each in his own league, like a modern day Atlas, bears his respective world on his shoulders.
And in the end, who wouldn’t want to be in their shoes?