Afleet Alex and his team. Especially since egos run amuck seem to dominate sports rather than grace and style, Alex and his team have it all in triplicate: great talent with proven results, grace both under pressure and in victory; and style with sponsoring the lemonade stands of Alex, the little champion who fought so bravely and gave the world a beautiful smiling face masking pain. -- Mary Ann Linehan, St. Davids, Pa.
Joe Paterno, Absolutely. Fifty-six years at one institution. Pride and glory and achievement and athletes who are students, too. We'll never see his like again. -- Paul Levine, Los Angeles
Notre Dame's Charlie Weis. He brought back to prominence arguably one of the two greatest franchises in sports (along with the Yankees) -- in less than a year. He turned an average team that consistently underachieved into a team that is two plays away from playing for the national championship.
Weis stands for everything that is good in college sports -- excellence on the field, excellence in the classroom, respect for your opponents, and respect for your university. He coaches with confidence, honor, class and humility. His motive for calling the play for the dying boy was not because he wanted to "look good," or to give the university publicity. He did it because it was the right thing to do. He also played every senior in their last home game, again, because it was the right thing to do.
Everyone knew coming in that Charlie Weis was one of the great minds in football. He has four Super Bowl rings, he coached under two legends in Parcells and Belicheck, and he transformed Tom Brady from a sixth-round draft choice into a Pro Bowl quarterback. However, everyone now knows that Weis is an even better person than he is a coach -- and that's saying a lot. -- Brian Oleniczak, Chicago
I feel that Jose Canseco deserves Sportsman of the Year for more than one reason. First, he stood in the face of criticism and insult and kept his integrity and told the truth. Although his steroid use was obvious during his career, he is now trying to help alleviate the growing problem of steroids in America. I admit that I was one of the people blasting him last spring -- however, when the Palmeiro case unfolded I began to change my sentiments. I know that steroids are a huge problem with today's youth, because I was a high-school athlete and I am the only one of my friends who did not use steroids. I commend Canseco for the guts he showed by addressing this issue and even calling out the so-called heroes who used performance-enhancing drugs. -- Justin Breitfelder, Columbus, Ga.
Thierry Henry is the Sportsman of the Year. I have read and heard Richard Deitsch's argument, and I believe that he speaks what needs to be heard. My vote is for Henry. I already knew that he was a deserving soccer player; now I know that he is most deserving. -- Cyril, New York
Tony Stewart should be the 2005 Sportsman of the Year. He dominated on the track in the summer (winning five out of seven races), won his second NASCAR championship, and in the process toned down his "bad boy" image by donating time and money to the Petty's Victory Junction Gang camp as well as building playgrounds and homes for Habitat for Humanity. Stewart deserves this award as much as the other nominees. -- Mallory Duff, Hampstead, Md.
George Hincapie is a true athlete. The amount of training and work required to cycle at his level is far beyond what most professional or amateur athletes in other sports put out. In addition, he is a true sportsman riding not only for himself, but for the overall team; especially for the leader. He is successful not only in the big tours, but also in the one-day classics. -- Joe Sullivan, Concord, Calif.
Joe Paterno is my sportsman of the year. The man is a force of nature and in this year, he reminded us all what the good of sports is all about. I am a very proud alumnus of The Pennsylvania State University so this may appear biased, however my case for Joe Paterno as sportsman of the year is based on a fact that has nothing to do with sports. How many nationally renowned football coaches have the library named after him? He believes in the true spirit of the student-athlete and ensures his players understand that too. Thanks JoePa, for teaching our boys well, building them into fine men, and doing it right, every day. -- Louis McKinney, Newark, Del.
Reggie Miller is the only choice. He never left Indy for an easy ring. -- Jason Duncan, Indianapolis
Frank Deford is correct -- Team Afleet Alex should be selected as the Sportsmen of the Year. Between the fundraising for cancer and the gasp-inducing moment in the Preakness, a horse made me interested in sports again. Yes, a horse -- one who doesn't talk back, one who doesn't spit on fans, one that doesn't demand more money. He just loves to run. -- Laurie Bale, Omaha, Neb.
Roger Federer. When most people believed that repeating the year he had in 2004 would be impossible, Federer has once again proved that not even the sky is the limit for him. This is a time when many experts think that collecting Grand Slams in bunches is downright silly, yet Federer does it with his ever-so-shining grace and ridiculous arsenal of shots. Can we actually think of an athlete that has been so dominant the past two years? No one. Federer is definitely the Sportsman of the Year. -- Paul Helingher, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
It's whole the White Sox team. They've waited 86 years for this. They not only easily won the playoffs, but the whole team cheered on each other and everyone was a part of the game. Scott Podsednik had no home runs during the season but he hit a huge homer to win a World Series game. Joe Crede stepped up big in the series with many crucial hits. Paul Konerko was the leader of the team and stepped up to the plate. Reserve Geoff Blum hit a winning home run in the World Series. World Series MVP Jermaine Dye had crucial hits, including the one that drove in the season-winning run in Game 4. And don't forget Ozzie Guillen, he managed the team to a Cinderella year. White Sox nation has to be proud, and apparently 86 years of misery was worth it in the end. -- Andrew Goldstein, Pittsburgh
Team Alex is the epitome of the sport. A group of "no names" that rose to the top and showed class along the way. Alex's near-disastrous spill in the Preakness and his amazing recovery held all of America's collective breath. The money raised for Alex's Lemonade stands shows that sport can contribute without all of the self-promotion that many of today's pampered athletes demand. -- Vicki Volk, Bossier City