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Q&A: Curt Schilling

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Curt-Schilling.jpg interviewed a number of former Sportsman on what the honor meant to them. Here's Ben Glicksman speaks with Curt Schilling, who shared the honor with Randy Johnson in 2001. What was your reaction to being named Sportsman of the Year?

Schilling: You remember the period of time around all of that. The World Series ended in November for the first time ever because of 9/11. All the things that were happening at the time, it was a really charged atmosphere. But I was stunned. I was shocked. I think that whole story of the World Series was a much bigger thing than just the seven games we played. I think that there was a message sent globally about this country and baseball was the centerpiece of that message. Your Sportsmen story focused on the dynamic between you and Randy Johnson leading the Diamondbacks to the World Series. How did you help each other to become so successful?

Schilling: I can't speak for Randy. I just know that from the day that I stepped into that clubhouse, Randy pushed me to be better than I was before. He set the bar. For me, it was trying to reach higher than I've ever reached before. That year, and the following year, I did some things that I've never done before or since because I was able to watch him and be impacted by him. Your relationship with your father is also a theme of the piece. What did winning that World Series and Sportsman of the Year mean to you in that regard?

Schilling: It didn't have to do with how good of a player you were, it had more to do with what kind of person you were, that a guy embodied all of the things that my dad believed in...The SI award, I don't think it really resonated with me, the meaning, until I was at the ceremony and I met Muhammad Ali. Muhammad was a generation-crossing, world-changing athlete. To know that I was receiving an award that had honored him previously, that's when I went, wow, this is a big deal. This does have far bigger meaning and impact than just on the baseball field. Nine years later, how do you feel about receiving the honor? Has its importance grown or diminished with time?

Schilling: No. It still sits in a prominent place in my house and it's still something that elicits a lot of conversation. I'm very proud that I was able to be a part of that. I recognize that that recognition, in both cases, in '01 and '04, was dependent on a lot of people. Baseball is not a sport you can achieve individually. I don't think this award, when you get to the core of it, is something that an individual earns. There's a laundry list of people behind the scenes that have made it possible for the athlete to be in that position. The god-given ability that you're given to use, it speaks as much about who and what I was and was around, and the crowd of people that I chose to live my life with, as it does about me. Define the role of Sportsman. Does it extend beyond performance on the playing field?

Schilling: I don't think it's any different than I feel the role of the athlete is today. Charles Barkley was very comfortable saying that athletes are not role models. I respectfully disagree. I think athletes have a unique opportunity, and then when you get elevated to the pantheon of Sportsman of the Year, I think that becomes potentially a global stage. Did you read Sports Illustrated growing up?

Schilling: I lived by it. One of the walls of my bedroom was a collage of about 15 years of baseball photos. I would cut out the baseball pictures from every issue and I had this huge montage of thousands of pictures. Did you ever have any thoughts on who was named Sportsman of the Year?

Schilling: The Sportsman honor is almost like Time's Man of the Year -- they are always looking for an angle that's unique and different. It always tended to be somebody that told a message far bigger than their athletic achievement. I always thought that was pretty cool. You were also named co-Sportsman of the Year with your entire Red Sox team after you won the 2004 World Series. Was be named in 2004 similar to 2001?

Schilling: The 2004 honor was the very same thing. I came here to help this team win a World Series that hadn't done it in 86 years, and I was a part of a special group of guys that did something that would never be done again. The awards are the same. They represent as much a group of people that I was allowed to play with as they do anything individually. Which current athletes do you feel best embody the spirit of Sportsman of the Year?

Schilling: I've always been a Derek Jeter fan...Roy Halladay, I've always been a huge fan...I know this might not be popular, but I would really like to see Michael Vick come full circle and prove to people that you can make some bad decisions and still live a productive life and make other people's lives better.