BEST OF THE BEST?

How this Houston athlete edged out a national icon for this prestigious award

Tom Brady would have been a more fitting selection. Photo by Getty Images.

You’d think 2021 would be the easiest year ever for Time Magazine to pick its “Athlete of the Year.”

Time selected gymnast Simone Biles. Time got it wrong, unless The magazine figured 2021 was Biles’ final bow in gymnastics and decided to make “Athlete of the Year” a career honor. Which by definition it's not and shouldn't be. They didn't give the Oscar for Best Picture last year to Gone with the Wind.

By Biles’ standards and expectations for the Olympics in Tokyo, 2021 perhaps was the worst year of her sports career. She went to Tokyo as the favorite to bring home a bucket of gold medals. Instead she withdrew from five events and earned only one silver (a team medal) and a bronze in balance beam.

To be clear, Biles returned home a hero in a different manner. Falling victim to the yips or “twisties” as they’re known in gymnastics, Biles shed light on the mental issues and pressures a world-class athlete, especially a bright and sensitive one like Biles, faces. Biles is to be commended for opening up about her personal life and challenges, and encouraging others facing similar problems to seek help. Plus she’s a Houston area legend, the most decorated and accomplished gymnast in history and we’re proud of her.

If Time has selected her as “Inspirational Athlete of the Year” or “Courageous Athlete of the Year,” yes, sure. Or even “Person of the Year,” assuming she pays income tax, unlike the person Time did pick for that honor.

But if “Athlete of the Year” means this year, and we’re talking about success and accomplishments on the field of competition, then it’s no contest who really deserves the title.

How about a 44-year-old quarterback who won the Super Bowl in February and is using the 2021 season to cement his legacy as the greatest player ever in America’s most popular sport ever?

Tom Brady, 10 years past the age when most NFL players are either retired or near the end of their careers, left the New England Patriots, signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and drove his new team to an upset Super Bowl victory over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. What Brady did – and continues to do - is beyond comprehension in modern professional sports. Nobody's ever come close.

There are starting quarterbacks (Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Zach Wilson) less than half Brady’s age – and less than half Brady’s talent. By the way, those three young’uns … their teams haven’t won as many games combined as Brady’s Bucs.

Brady doesn’t play like some gray-haired, grizzled old-timer getting by on guile, tricks and pity. No, Brady gets in the opponent’s face and beats them down. When the Buccaneers are 4th-and-1 in the red zone, you can bet they’re calling a quarterback sneak. And Brady will get that yard. He’s made the quarterback sneak an offensive weapon.

They say Father Time is undefeated in sports. I’m not so sure. Check out Brady, looking like a guy in his 30s, lean and fit, drunk on his ass, heaving a Hail Mary with the Super Bowl trophy from one boat to another on the Hillsborough River. He was 43 when he did that. And he had just won his seventh Super Bowl. As Tina Turner would say, he’s simply the best ... of all time and still now.

The Buccaneers are 10-3, a lock to win the NFC South. Brady already has thrown for 4,234 yards this season (leads the NFL) with 36 touchdowns (leads the NFL). His passer rating is 104.2 (leads the NFL). He's played every game for the Bucs. He’s 44 freaking years old.

Don’t be surprised if Brady is named MVP after this season. That would break a record for the oldest MVP in the history of America’s four major team sports.

The current record holder is Tom Brady.

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TEXANS TRAINING CAMP WATCH

11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorsett had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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