Brees Deserves Sportsman Honor
Friday - December 15, 2010
When New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, it was a reminder of how powerful a platform sports can be for goodness in the world. While we are inundated with stories about athletes gone wrong, it’s easy to forget what a directed spirit can achieve, the capacity for inspiration and intervention in lives and places desperately in need of hope.
This has little to do with Brees’ marvelous on-field mastery that led the Saints to a Super Bowl championship. Instead, it has everything to with his relentless efforts to help rebuild a city devastated by a tragic storm and walloped again by the biggest oil spill in history.
Hands on and in person, Brees can be found visiting community centers, speaking at schools, raising awareness for outsiders and comforting victims within. The Brees Dream Foundation has contributed more than $6 million to worthy causes in its charitable mission, with more on the way.
And Brees is modest about his participation and impact.
“I needed New Orleans just as much as New Orleans needed me,” he told S.I. “People in New Orleans needed somebody to care about them. And it was the one place that cared about me.”
Did I mention that he’s also a sensational QB?
* You couldn’t find a starker contrast than the emerging Albert Haynesworth story. The motivationally challenged defensive tackle has been suspended for the remaining four games for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Haynesworth has received more than $37 million from the Skins over the past two years, but has grumbled constantly about the team’s defensive schemes, blown off mini-camps, reported out of shape, taking 10 days to pass a conditioning test, practiced half-heartedly, ignored coaches and, finally, told a team official he would no longer speak to head coach Mike Shanahan. Washington may have made a mistake by not formally citing Haynesworth for his various transgressions because the collective bargaining agreement requires graduated sanctions before a final severe penalty. Many observers believe a grievance will favor Haynesworth and the Redskins will have to pay him for the suspension.
It’s a sad story made sadder because Haynesworth has the physical ability to be a superstar. One thing everybody agrees on is that he has played his last down for the Redskins.
* It is a rarity that the state of Hawaii gets four consecutive days of national TV exposure in different sports, but that’s exactly what will happen when the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic take place the week leading up to Christmas. It begins with basketball Dec 22 at Stan Sheriff Center, when UH plays Florida State. There will be four games that day and four more Dec. 23, followed by the football game on Christmas Eve with Hawaii taking on Tulsa. Then, on Christmas Day, the championship round of the Classic. All in all, 10 basketball games will be carried by ESPN as well as the football game.
And congratulations to KHON’s Kanoa Leahey, whose fine performance in his national TV debut last year has earned him a spot on this year’s announcing team. He will be paired with ESPN color commentators Doug Gottlieb or Mark Gottfried on three of the games.
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