I didn't even know there WAS such a thing as a "male athlete of the year" award, but I guess it should come as no surprise. After all, you name the vocation -- from custodians, to your local pharmacy or grocery store clerks, teachers, firefighters, cops, a bazillion different varieties of TV stuff, movie stuff, singers, plays, literature, on and on and on, ad nauseum, and even the media themselves that covers all of it -- and there's more hardware being passed out these days than Lowe's and Home Depot combined could move with a 99% off sale. Then again, I never heard of a lawyer or politician of the week/month/year award either. Huh. Go figure. And I surely hope morticians don't give out trophies. That would be cold.
But if somehow these two guys were the finalists for that particular award, then there should have been no doubt whatsoever over the outcome. It's a no-brainer, slam dunk, yours truly playing Lebron head-up in a game of first to 21, getting in the ring with Manny Pacquiao, ever thinking I'll get more respect than Rodney Dangerfield on a bad day -- like that.
Given that both make millions every year, actually play roughly once a week, and likely have the best arms on their team, let's consider some differences.
Aaron Rodgers has to read defenses at the line of scrimmage, and sometimes call audibles changing the entire play. All 10 of his teammates on the field have to adjust. Justin Verlander shakes off a sign from his catcher. It makes little difference to the other 7 fielders.
By necessity, Rodgers has to throw the football all over the field to be successful. Verlander has the same "strike zone" every time.
For that matter -- receivers are moving targets. Home plate is stationary.
Verlander has a variety of different pitches? That's true, but so does Rodgers. He can "drill" it, feather it, lob it, put "air" underneath it, etc.
Verlander always faces a guy standing in the batter's box. He has no obstructions. Most times Rodgers has to find a throwing lane over or around the outstretched arms of rushing defenders. And, by the way, which do you think is easier to throw, much less control? A baseball or a football?
If a play goes wrong for Verlander, he might have to back up the catcher when a throw comes in. If a plays goes wrong for Rodgers, he might be running for his life. Speaking of running.... has anybody ever seen Verlander actually, you know, run?
When Verlander's having a bad day, he'll get sacked by manager Jim Leyland and take a leisurely stroll to the dugout. Sometimes he'll doff his cap. When Rodgers is having a bad day, he'll also get sacked, but have to get back up after rearranging his helmet so he's no longer looking through an earhole. Just a slight difference.
Rodgers gets plays through his earphones, likely from the offensive coordinator. Verlander gets pitches signalled in from the bench to his catcher. Both have the option of changing them. Let's call that a draw, except for how it affects his teammates, which I mentioned above.
During the course of a game, one of them will absorb a lot of contact from behemoths that seek to do him bodily harm before, during, or sometimes after he has thrown the ball. Pads or not, that has to hurt. He will grimace and try to get up. The other's greatest fear would seem to be a batter hitting the ball into the bleachers for a home run. He will scowl and reach for the resin bag, while the only thing that gets hurt is his feelings, or maybe a slight blip on his ERA.
Verlander can throw at an opposing player to try to intimidate them. Sometimes that can be a useful ploy. If Rodgers tries the same tactic, it's called an interception. That's never a good idea.
On that note, despite how formidable the batter may be, Verlander only has to face them one at a time. On an extremely rare occasion, a riled up hitter may charge the mound he stands on. Both benches will clear and usually no harm results. Verlander would likely be giving interviews about such an incident for several weeks. Rodgers never knows for sure what is coming from the defense until the ball is snapped. It can be anywhere from 3 to 9 guys charging the "pocket" he sits in, and they've all been riled up since before the game even started. This is business as usual for both benches. Rodgers will shrug it off in a post-game interview as another play on another day in the NFL. No big deal.
Verlander garnered a heap of awards this last year, including the American League Cy Young and MVP. Betcha he'd trade all that in in a heartbeat for a "ring" as a world champ. Rodgers? Been there done that -- last year -- also the MVP of the Super Bowl, and favored to win it yet again.
Yet in my humble opinion, these two guys should take silver and bronze at best.
Standing on the podium receiving the gold medal as the The Male Athlete of the Year should be....
Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis player. He blew away top-notch world-wide competition all year long, even to the point where the former #1 ranked player, Rafael Nadal, conceded his greatness.
But alas, he's only a tennis player, and not an American at that, so he probably got little, if any, consideration for such an award.
And that's just wrong.