Aaron Rodgers has been named the AP male athlete of the year, which tennis fans probably think is a Djok.
Rodgers is coming off of an unforgettable year that saw him win the Lombardi Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP while posting a 18-1 win-loss record. He’s flirting with a slew of all-time passing records this season and is considered to be a virtual lock for his first MVP award.
But it’s a passing league, and a quarterback has won the MVP award four years in a row and the Super Bowl MVP four of the last five years. While Rodgers has emerged as one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, the numbers would indicate that he still only has a slight edge over fellow pivots Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer serving (no pun intended) as his Brees and Brady, Novak Djokovic was significantly more dominant in tennis than Rodgers was in football. The world’s top-ranked player won three grand slams and five masters titles, posting a 70-6 win-loss record and at one point riding a 43-match unbeaten streak.
In 2011, Federer won four tournaments, Nadal won three…and Djokovic won 10. He also took home a record $12.6 million in prize money and beat Nadal and Federer in 10 times in a combined 11 matches.
And yet while Rodgers received 112 votes and Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander got 50, Djokovic garnered only 21.
This only epitomizes America’s obsession with both football and quarterbacks. It’s the third time in five years that a signal caller has taken home the award from the Associated Press. At least Sports Illustrated has only given its annual award to quarterbacks twice in that span.
The odds were not in Djokovic’s favor, especially considering that a tennis player hasn’t received the award since John McEnroe won 30 years ago, in 1981, and a foreigner hasn’t won since Canada’s/Jamaica’s Ben Johnson took it home in 1987. The last time a European won it: 1959 (Swedish boxer Ingemar Johansson).
This makes some sense. The Associated Press is based in America, and obviously the importance locally to a given sport is factored in. There are dominant cricket and rugby players who would obviously not qualify. And while tennis is mainstream in the United States, it isn’t close to as popular as football and baseball, which hurts the stock of guys like Djokovic, Federer and Nadal.
So considering a blatant bias and a lack of fierce competition (Verlander? Tony Stewart?) on American soil, it’s not surprising that Rodgers took the title.
Realistically, it probably doesn’t matter all that much to Rodgers or Djokovic. Although I’m sure Rodgers might enjoy hearing that his predecessor in Green Bay never won the award.