As you know, I have made it VERY clear that Tim Tebow should have won SI’s annual Sportsman of the Year award over Derek Jeter. I’ve even added that I didn’t think Derek Jeter would have even been in my Top 5 choices for the award-as Roger Federer, Tyler Hansbrough, Calvin Borel and Kobe Bryant would have all been better choices-at least in my own opinion.
The good news is that in selecting my own personal LOCAL 2009 Sports Person of the Year-I don’t have to let anyone else even offer an opinion. (Although I will note that Comcast Morning Show host Drew Forrester has chimed in to let everyone know that he agrees with my choice.)
I started this process by putting together a list of 5 nominees for this honor. Putting together the list actually wasn’t all that difficult….
It’s a pretty impressive list.
Ray Rice will be the Ravens’ MVP this season-and the entire city of Baltimore has ABSOLUTELY fallen in love with him. Don’t believe me? Ask your local sports department store if they’re sold out of Ray Rice jerseys right now. He might not make the Pro Bowl in a conference with Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Cedric Benson-but he deserves to be there. On top of that, he’s been very involved in the community-hosting a number of charity events around town.
Nick Markakis was productive again at the plate for the Orioles-hitting nearly .300 and driving in 100 runs. He was also stellar in the field once more, tallying 13 assists in what many thought should have been a Gold Glove campaign. More importantly, he uprooted his family to move to the area, commiting himself to being a part of this community after receiving a contract extension from the O’s. He started the “Right Side Foundation” and has done a number of events with kids around town.
Calvin Borel galvanized the entire sport of horse racing by turning a 50-1 “no shot” in Mine That Bird into a Kentucky Derby champion. Just 14 days later, he came to Charm City aboard filly Rachel Alexandra and set himself up for a shot at a personal Triple Crown-which he probably would have gotten had Jess Jackson ran Rachel Alexandra in the Belmont.
Michael Oher was so unfamiliar to Ravens fans before the NFL Draft that there is no doubt the first reaction most everyone had to his selection was “Who is this O-her guy?” 8 months later, EVERYONE knows about Michael Oher. The movie “The Blind Side” was so popular it actually beat out “New Moon” for #1 at the box office in the 3rd week both were out. On top of all that, Oher has been TREMENDOUS for the Ravens-moving from right tackle to left tackle and performing at a level that might well earn him a trip to Miami.
But there’s really no doubt about which of these guys deserves to be the 2009 Local Sports Person of the Year.
It’s Bozeman in a landslide.
In calendar year 2009, the Morgan State Bears basketball team did the following:
-Traveled to College Park and beat Maryland
-Traveled to Fayetteville and beat Arkansas (just two days after putting a massive scare into Louisville at Freedom Hall)
-Claimed a 2nd straight MEAC regular season title
-Won the MEAC Tournament
-Advanced to their first ever NCAA Tournament in school history.
-Bozeman named Mid-Major and MEAC Coach of the Year
He’s revitalized not just the hoops program on Hillen Road, but the entire athletic department. And in doing so, he’s answered every doubter who said “Why would Morgan State get involved with a scumbag like Todd Bozeman?”
2009 was the year where Todd Bozeman’s story of redemption came full circle. It was one thing for him to get back into coaching, but it was quite another for him to make a statement as emphatic as he did over the last 12 months. So emphatic in fact that discussion of Bozeman no longer centers around his transgressions at Cal, but instead what he may do in the future at Morgan State or elsewhere.
Unfortunately, Bozeman’s story of redemption has been buried nationally amongst stories about Kobe Bryant returning to the top of his sport following rape charges and Michael Vick getting back to the NFL after his stint in jail. Locally, while Bozeman’s story has been covered, I’m not sure we’ve really given the story the recognition it deserves considering Morgan State tends to fall behind Maryland, Towson, UMBC, Loyola, etc. etc. in the pecking order of even local college sports.
But Todd Bozeman’s rise-and the rise of Morgan hoops as well-has been historic. In 2005-06 (the final year of Butch Beard’s tenure), the Bears won 5 games. Last season, they won 23. They’ve gon from being a college basketball also-ran within their own conference to a team that schools are afraid to schedule, and were so respected they managed to avoid a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite being in a conference that is annually RPI ranked in the bottom 3. They remain a regular part of the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 voting process-either ranked in the poll or receiving votes.
Bozeman’s community activity includes running basketball camps through Morgan State throughout the summer. His BIGGEST contribution off the court remains his involvement with the Bea Gaddy Family Center, an involvement that includes taking his team to the Center to serve food on Thanksgiving to help brighten the spirits of those who come.
It’s been a tremendous year for Todd Bozeman here in Baltimore, one deserving of even more recognition that I can give him-but this is my part. As far as Sports People of the Year in 2009 are concerned here in Baltimore, Bozeman was tops.