NEW YORK - Who is the Sports Illustrated 2013 Sportsman of the Year? Well, none other than former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
Manning moved to the Denver Broncos last year after sitting out the 2011 season with the Colts following a level one cervical fusion surgery. Prior to that, Manning had never missed an NFL game since being chosen by the Colts as the first overall draft pick in 1998.
The 37-year-old quarterback is a 12-time Pro Bowler, four-time Associated Press NFL MVP and Super Bowl XLI Champion and MVP, among a long list of achievements.
“At first, when I knew we were considering Manning, I thought: good choice. Lifetime-achievement-award choice,” said SI Senior Writer Peter King. “But if you isolate this year, you’re looking at a player two years removed from four neck procedures that would have prompted many 35-year-old legends to choose retirement. He has his Super Bowl. He has his MVPs."
"Now he’s on the verge of breaking the most important single-season quarterback records (touchdown passes and passing yards) in the 94-year history of the game," King added. "He threw seven touchdown passes against the defending Super Bowl champs. And he’s got his team set to win the top seed in the AFC. Who plays his best—wounded, with so many great young guns chasing him—at 37?”
The SI Sportsman of the Year award, first presented in 1954, recognizes superior athletic achievement. The award is not intended to reflect merely the winner's victories, but the "quality of his efforts and the manner of his striving."
The 2012 Sportsman of the Year was given to LeBron James of the Miami Heat. Previous winners include Joe Montana, Muhammad Ali and Wayne Gretzky.