On Tuesday, it was announced that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was chosen as the recipient of Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year" award. Brees, who led the Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl win, was also cited for his efforts on behalf of the city of New Orleans, which was and is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
Brees delivered solid playoff performances against the Cardinals and Vikings to reach Super Bowl XLIV, where he out-dueled Peyton Manning with 288 yards and two touchdowns. He's picked up right where he left off in the 2010 season so far, as the Saints are off to an 8-3 start, but at least as importantly, he was chosen on the merits of his work off the field.
Brees and his wife, Brittany, founded the Brees Dream Foundation, a charity organization dedicated to fighting cancer. He has also embraced his role as a source of inspiration to his city -- years ago, Brees was a castoff with an ailing knee who had trouble securing a starting job as quarterback. The Saints were the only team that wanted him as a starter, and he rewarded them by helping bring a world championship to a franchise that, historically, was defined by losing.
Brees, age 31, is the third NFL quarterback to be named Sportsman of the Year since 2005, joining the Patriots' Tom Brady and Vikings' Brett Favre.