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12/21/2007 11:26:00 AM

Most Surprising Athletes of 2007

Brett Favre
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
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12/17/2007 12:21:00 PM

Disappointing Athletes of 2007

Michael Vick
Michael Vick and his fans would like to forget 2007.
Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

As the year dawdles to a close, let's take one day to look back at those who broke our hearts this year. These dudes get the coal in the stocking. Here's my top five disappointing athletes of 2007...

1. Michael Vick: When he was first linked to dog fighting, Vick assured all of his fans that these were just spurious rumors and completely out of character. But as more details leaked, day after day, it became more and more obvious we might never see Vick play football again. Speaking for all Falcons fans, thanks a lot, Mike.

2. Roger Clemens: He's sold himself as Captain America with frosted tips -- all apple pie, pick-up trucks and blue jeans. Clemens always said that hard work was what made him competitive, even though he was twice the age of some of the kids he was competing against. Now, thanks to the Mitchell Report, it seems as though Clemens may have been artificially aided in finding his fountain of youth.

3. Dirk Nowitzki: Funny that the regular season MVP should make this list, but as good as Dirk was in the regular season, he and the Mavs were just as miserable in the postseason, getting embarrassingly bounced from the NBA Playoffs in round one. Dirk had an amazing season, but no MVP on a team with 67 regular season wins should allow his team to go home early.

4. Almost Everyone Involved With College Football: From Dennis Dixon to Bobby Petrino, from the Missouri Tigers to the LSU Tigers to the computers that rank the teams, nearly everyone in college football had a disappointing year. Whether it was coaches up and leaving for a new gig, players suffering heartbreaking injuries or teams losing when they had a chance to lock up that number one spot, nobody stepped up and grabbed the golden ring this season in college football.

5. Eli Manning: These days, at least in the New York City area, Eli Manning is starring in a series of watch commercials which praise his dependability and even uses the word "unstoppable" to describe Eli. New York Giants fans hoped this would be the season in which Eli would finally shake free from Peyton's shadow and become his own superstar. Didn't really work out that way. And when Joey Harrington, Kerry Collins, Kyle Boller and Patrick Ramsey all have a better quarterback rating than you, maybe "unstoppable" isn't the best way to describe your work.

Which athlete left you disappointed in 2007? Let us know below...

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
posted by SI.com | View comments | Add a comment
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