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12/21/2007 11:26:00 AM
Most Surprising Athletes of 2007
Brett Favre is having one of his best season ever.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
After we took a look at the most disappointing athletes of the year earlier this week, let's now run down the most surprising athletes of 2007, those who performed above and beyond our expectations (in a good way).
1. Alex Rodriguez: It's tough to classify anyone making the highest salary in sports as a surprise, but after all he went through in 2006, and despite a season that included paparazzi following him through hotels and a contract negotiation hanging over his head, A-Rod posted one of the greatest seasons in baseball history (.314, 54 HR, 156 RBI). And he managed to keep his name out of the Mitchell Report.
2. Brett Favre: We thought he was dunzo a year ago, but Brett and his Wranglers returned and shocked everyone with a consistently commanding performance. Well, surprised everyone except for maybe Peter King.
3. Adrian Peterson: He kind of snuck into the NFL, going seventh overall to Minnesota, but his eye-popping highlights each Sunday have all football fans wondering if there really were six players better than Peterson.
4. Todd Reesing: This unheralded college QB threw for over 3,200 yards with nearly a 5-1 TD/INT ratio, and led his team to an 11-1 finish. They even had a shot at a BCS title game appearance, until they suffered their one loss. What team are we talking about here? Why, noted college football powerhouse Kansas, of course.
5. Brandon Roy: Roy wasn't taken until the 6th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, but after a Draft night trade moved him to Portland, Roy became the R.O.Y. going away, and this fall he's powered the Blazers to one of the NBA's most surprising starts. Who cares if he looks like he could be Greg Oden's grandson?
Which athlete was your most pleasant surprise in 2007? Let us know below...
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
A-Rod should not be on that list, with the accolades and salary he receives he should be expected to produce like this. Tiger's continued dominance after the loss of his father, getting married and having a child speak volumes for the athlete that he is. I would state that this year for Tiger ranks up there as 1 of his best.
Yeah…that list is horrible. Give me Undrafted, Released by the Ravens (with such stars at McNair and Boller), Derek Anderson. How are guys drafted in the Top 7 or 8, just not #1, surprises?? They aren’t.
How about the entire Colorado Rockies team? What they accomplished has never been done before and although they fell short of winning it all, they should be commended for the run that grabbed the entire baseball world's attention.
I think that you are forgetting two other NFL players that are having a huge impact for their teams. Derek Anderson, QB of the Browns, and Ryan Grant, Favre's RB in Green Bay. These two were cast offs from other teams, and both have shown that they belong in this league or at least with their respective teams. Players like Adrian Peterson and Brandon Roy were first round draft choices or lottery picks, so they were expected to contribute. You talk as if they came from obscurity right into stardom. Anything short of that, and they would be labeled busts ala Curtis Ennis, Rashan Salaam, KiJana Carter, Darko Milicic, Sam Bowie, Kwame Brown, etc.
How could you forget Edwards the QB for Appstate? He lead his mountaineers to a victory over UM at UM and then lead them to a National Championship. Might I add the highest honor given by the NCAA. He play was great and his leadership was immense considering he is a true sophomore. He can get it done in the air and with his leg.
I think one guy that no one talked about but just went about his business and put in a very surprising year was Ted Lilly of the Cubs. He had to of been the most underrated pitcher in the major leagues this season. He finished the season 15-8 with a 3.83 ERA, but was also 9-1 when pitching the game after a loss. He stopped losing streaks before they could even get started.
How about Sam Bradford the freshman quarterback at Oklahoma? Had anyone heard of him in September? At least the others were hyped in the off-season.But he lead the nation in quarterback rating (ahead of Teabow). Threw for 34 touchdowns (more than Chase Daniel) only threw 7 interceptions (Colt Brennan threw 14) and led his team to the Big 12 championship.
What does this kid have to do to get recognition? He has done everything Oklahoma has asked of him and he's a redshirt freshman.
Patrick Willis of San Fransisco he is a Rookie on a recovering team that not only started in his first year-He is leading the NFL in tackles with an official 123 (i'm pretty sure its supposed to be 162-according to the Sacramento Bee) if he doesnt go to the Pro Bowl this year-Count on it Next Year
Ummm.... ever heard about this guy named Brady? I guess if Pay-Rod is #1, then Brady should be above him because, he performs in the post-season. How about Moss? Wasn't he given up for useless in Oakland?
For real surprising athletes, look at how the Browns have gotten to where they are. Derek Anderson was one tanked game by Indy away from making the playoffs. The whole Redskins team after the tragedy they endured are in the playoffs.
For a name no one has ever heard of, Milan Lucic will be a big time star in the NHL in the next year or 2. 6'4", 220 lbs and 19 years old.