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Sportsman

My Sportsman: Chargers' Philip Rivers

Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for 2013's Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 16. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by former Sportsman recipient Terry Bradshaw.

When I was given Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award I wasn't sure what to say. I didn't really know much about Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award when I was given the honor in 1979 but I do remember getting a handshake and an "atta boy" from those around me. That year I shared the honor with Willie Stargell, who had been named Most Valuable Player of the World Series after the Pirates beat the Orioles in Game 7. Willie and I did not hang out much but when his team [the Pittsburgh Pirates] was playing baseball, I was always heading down to their locker room, messing around with those guys. Willie was a cool guy and that was a pretty cool day. It was an incredible time to be a Pittsburgher and it still resonates today.

My memories from the Sportsman photo shoot, in particular, are still vivid. It was cool because the shoot took place at a steel mill, an interesting setting given that my dad was in the steel business himself. People still bring me my Sportsman cover to sign.

So in thinking about who would be a worthy candidate for this year's award, I know I'm going with an oddball choice. I am a huge Philip Rivers fan and I've heard wonderful things about him. Rivers is not only solid on the field, but a good guy off it. First of all, he's an incredibly gifted competitor. He fights hard. You can see that from just watching him play every week on television. I know he doesn't have the winning percentages of other players but he just seems like a guy who cares about people. You don't always have to be going to the Super Bowl or be an MVP to be someone worthy of Sportsman of the Year.

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I'm just some average person who thinks: You know what? Philip Rivers is a guy I'd like to hang out with. Family guy. Good to his teammates. He has his foundation (The Rivers of Hope Foundation). We cares about those around him, in addition to caring about what happens on the field. I just think he's cool.

Rivers is one of those guys who if he threw for 8,000 yards and 100 touchdown passes, won a Super Bowl and every award there was that year, he'd be the same guy. I picked him out in college when he was at North Carolina State and I fell in love with the way he played. Then I found out he was married while in college which told me something about him as a person and his maturity level. (Rivers met his wife Tiffany in junior high school, and they were married after his freshman year at NC State University; they have five girls and two sons.) I like the fact that he always competes hard on the field even though he has not always been surrounded with the best talent. The guy just never quits on you. You've seen that this year a lot. To me, it's like, 'Hey, America, wake up. This is somebody you need to get to know'.

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