Quality of Effort

December 12, 2005

The Laughing Wuarterback is the title of a novel that never quite made it to print but was passed around sportswriting circles a number of years ago. It was a confounding manuscript, off-center and funny, but also horrifying in its cynicism. The NFL QB in question hoarded his talent, had no respect for the game or his team; all he wanted was money, and it ended badly for him, his teammates and the league. Greed destroyed all. A very contrary story line came from SI senior writer Peter King back in February, who told of Tom Brady and his contract negotiations right after he had led the Patriots to their third Super Bowl victory in four seasons (and was the MVP in two of them). Brady could have asked for the sky, but did not. As he later told King, he didn't need to be the highest-paid guy in the league; he believed it was more important that the Patriots use the money he wasn't taking to keep the team in contention for a championship. Brady signed a six-year, $60 million contract--substantially below the seven-year, $98 million contract of Peyton Manning (tops in the NFL). King, who has been covering pro football for 16 years, had never heard anything like it. He says, "If you think that plays well in the locker room, you're right." And that's a large part of why Tom Brady is SI's 2005 Sportsman of the Year. He is a great football player (his 3,301 passing yards lead the NFL), but he is also a classic team player, which is what makes him an extraordinary leader, and a winner.

As SI's brilliant editor Andre Laguerre wrote of Stan Musial, the Sportsman in 1957, "The victory may have been his, but it is not for the victory alone that he is honored. Rather it is for the quality of his effort and the manner of his striving." The same goes for Tom Brady.

He was surprised when told he was to receive this year's award. NFL players are seldom named; the last was Joe Montana in 1990. The timing of the selection--nearly 10 months after the Super Bowl and barely two thirds of the way through the next NFL season--was the only thing that made Brady a tough choice. But this is still the year he won his third Super Bowl, and even now, despite losing five starters on offense and playing with a taped-together defense, the Patriots have won seven of their first 12, and Brady has rallied them four times in the fourth quarter. Their bid to win a third straight Super Bowl this season may seem like a long shot, but it is still alive, and that's only because Tom Brady is leading them with both his arm and his heart.

• For more on SI's 2005 Sportsman, go to SI.com/Sportsman.

SPORTSMAN of the YEAR 1954-2005

1954 • ROGER BANNISTER

1955 • JOHNNY PODRES

1956 • BOBBY MORROW

1957 • STAN MUSIAL

1958 • RAFER JOHNSON

1959 • INGEMAR JOHANSSON

1960 • ARNOLD PALMER

1961 • JERRY LUCAS

1962 • TERRY BAKER

1963 • PETE ROZELLE

1964 • KEN VENTURI

1965 • SANDY KOUFAX

1966 • JIM RYUN

1967 • CARL YASTRZEMSKI

1968 • BILL RUSSELL

1969 • TOM SEAVER

1970 • BOBBY ORR

1971 • LEE TREVINO

1972 • BILLIE JEAN KING AND JOHN WOODEN

1973 • JACKIE STEWART

1974 • MUHAMMAD ALI

1975 • PETE ROSE

1976 • CHRIS EVERT

1977 • STEVE CAUTHEN

1978 • JACK NICKLAUS

1979 • TERRY BRADSHAW AND WILLIE STARGELL

1980 • U.S. OLYMPIC HOCKEY TEAM

1981 • SUGAR RAY LEONARD

1982 • WAYNE GRETZKY

1983 • MARY DECKER

1984 • MARY LOU RETTON AND EDWIN MOSES

1985 • KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR

1986 • JOE PATERNO

1987 • ATHLETES WHO CARE
BOB BOURNE, KIP KEINO, JUDI BROWN KING, DALE MURPHY, CHIP RIVES, PATTY SHEEHAN, RORY SPARROW AND REGGIE WILLIAMS

1988 • OREL HERSHISER

1989 • GREG LEMOND

1990 • JOE MONTANA

1991 • MICHAEL JORDAN

1992 • ARTHUR ASHE

1993 • DON SHULA

1994 • BONNIE BLAIR AND JOHANN OLAV KOSS

1995 • CAL RIPKEN JR.

1996 • TIGER WOODS

1997 • DEAN SMITH

1998 • MARK MCGWIRE AND SAMMY SOSA

1999 • U.S. WOMEN'S

SOCCER TEAM

2000 • TIGER WOODS

2001 • RANDY JOHNSON AND bCURT SCHILLING

2002 • LANCE ARMSTRONG

2003 • TIM DUNCAN AND DAVID ROBINSON

2004 • BOSTON RED SOX

2005 • TOM BRADY

PHOTOWALTER IOOSS JR.  PAT HAND
Brady is SI's SOY for more than the three Super Bowl rings on his fingers.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)