Madison Bumgarner has been named the 2014 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. It’s an honor you can’t argue wasn’t well-deserved. After a stellar regular season, Bumgarner turned it up in the playoffs, becoming nearly unhittable while leading the Giants to their third World Series title since 2010.
So, yes, Bumgarner was great (and the dude will certainly know how to celebrate the achievement). But what about the other sports figures in 2014, whose years became an embarrassment or a flat-out disaster? Yes, let’s not forget these “anti”-Sportsmen of the Year:
Already dealing with a controversy over player safety, the NFL commissioner’s handling of the Ray Rice scandal was widely criticized, with many calling for his resignation. Add in other domestic abuse cases and the Adrian Peterson matter and Goodell found himself presiding over a league many felt had no clue or interest in controlling its players.
Where there's Goodell, there's Rice. Once video of him striking then-fiancee (and now wife) Janay Rice went public, the former Ravens running back became the center of a storm. He was indefinitely suspended and let go from the Ravens. He's been reinstated and currently searching for a team to sign him.
Where there's Goodell and Rice, there's also Peterson. The star Minnesota Vikings running back found himself under the microscope and off the field for hitting his son, 4, with a switch. He then mystified people by going on Twitter to compare his ordeal with the controversy in Ferguson.
A-Roid was suspended for all of the 2014 season. His name is forever linked with steroids and he’s starting to age like Robin Williams in ‘Jack.’ As reviled an athlete as there is, A-Rod plans to return to the Yankees in 2015, much to the delight of, well, probably all Yankees haters everywhere.
TCU Football/Baylor Football
Both teams had phenomenal seasons yet were shut out of the inaugural College Football Playoff. TCU was in until the final field was set (ouch!) and Baylor hired a PR firm to plead its case. You can bet these omissions will spur the call to expand the field to eight teams and you get the feeling the Big 12 will be the one leading that charge.
Brazilian Men's National Soccer Team
Brazil was a favorite to win the World Cup, which would’ve been so sweet since it was the host country. Blitzed through the field until they met Germany in the semifinals and were annihilated, 7-1, in an embarrassing showing that was only seen by a global audience. The team allowed 14 total goals, the most in a World Cup since 1986 and the most ever by a host country. You can bet the whole nation is salivating for a chance at redemption in 2018.
They stink. There’s no other way to say it. They finished the 2013-2014 campaign with a 19-63 record, which included a 26-game losing streak. Then in June, they drafted Joel Embiid, even though not even a week earlier he underwent surgery on his foot that will keep him sidelined all season. They opened the 2014-2015 record by losing their first 17 games. If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, fans are wondering where it is.
The Heat handily lost the NBA Finals in five games to the Spurs and then lost LeBron James, who decided he’d had enough of South Beach and returned to Cleveland. When the greatest basketball player on the planet chooses Cleveland (even if he’s from there) over the sun of Miami, you know things aren’t looking up.