Sports Illustrated — Over the past two Decembers I’ve paneled a group of sports media people to answer the following question: Who will be the most fascinating sports person of the following year?
The answers have been interesting, some even prescient, and I’ve decided to make it an end-of-the-year tradition as long as I have a place to write. Once again, the 30-plus panelists (I added some new ones this year) were given no requirements outside of a due date. The length and choices were up to them. Below, are the responses to “Who will be the most fascinating sports person of 2016?”—and thanks for reading this column this year…
Wait… WHAT? Bill Cowher? Huh? Where the fuck did Bill Cowher come from? I mean Mike Breen saying KP in that article makes total sense. Even if he’s totally right about KP and I agree with him, it’s still a homer pick. Breen even admitted to that.
But Bill Cowher? What? He’s like THE definition of a football guy. The jaw, the scowl, the passion. Dude eats, sleeps, breathes football. I would never in a million years think he would go outside football with that pick. I mean sure, the NFL sucks. There are like three interesting players, and one of them wasn’t even allowed to play this week because the NFL is rigged*. Plus the other two are only interesting for stupid reasons. One because of a stupid ball pressure witch hunt to cover up CTE issues and HGH use and domestic violence concerns, and the other because closeted-but-not-quite-closeted-anymore racist people don’t like the touchdown celebrations of “mobile” quarterback.
None of that is really “interesting”. It kind of just sucks.
But anyway… I would never expect Cowher to go outside football for his pick. Almost everyone else on that list shamelessly stuck with their specific sport except a few people going with Phelps. And you can justify most of their choices. Steph, Cam, Brady, Phelps. All great choices.
But the fact that Bill fucking Cowher… the scowling, grizzled, former NFL Head Coach… went out of his way to pick the 20 year old Latvian basketball prodigy, says everything you need to know right there. Sure Steph and Cam will take home trophies, and Phelps will captivate the country for a month, and some new FIFA president will matter to the rest of the world, and Speith will win his majors. But nobody else on that list got a media person to abandon their sport like Kristaps did. And of all people, he got Bill fucking Cowher, the football guy of all football guys.
That’s the type of transcendency we’re talking about with Kristaps. The supposedly “soft, skinny” Euro basketball player is more compelling to a hard-nosed football lifer from Pennsylvania than Cam, or Brady, or Odell, or any football player out there.
Goddammit I love this kid.