Every year, The Associated Press releases its list of athletes of the year. Just last weekend, the organization announced tennis star Naomi Osaka and Los Angeles Laker LeBron James as their top choices.
LeBron and Osaka Weren’t Chosen Solely for Their Sports Achievements
Even though LeBron and his team emerged victorious in the NBA championship and Osaka won the 2020 US Open tennis tournament, that wasn’t reason enough to crown them the king and queen of sports for the past year. By casting their votes for them, the jury also commended James and Naomi for their political and social activism outside the playfield.
Both players have openly expressed their support for protests against racism and police brutality by following the Black Lives Matter movement, with Osaka even wearing face masks during the US Open showing the names of Americans wrongfully killed by law enforcement officials.
LeBron James — AP’s Male Athlete of the Decade (for 2019)
The Associated Press has long expressed its respect for LeBron and his achievements, even choosing him as the 2019 male athlete of the decade. James has been quite vocal about his criticism of President Trump, who has spoken poorly of NBA players protesting against racial inequality in the past.
LeBron’s career spans over 17 years, during which time he’s rightfully earned the all-time playoffs points record, as well as third place in all-time points and eight ranking in career assists. That’s just a fraction of his achievements on the court. He’s made a parallel career off the playfield through endorsement contracts, TV commercials, books, and movies. The talented basketball player even hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, as well as the ESPY Awards.
In addition to fighting for racial equality, LeBron also founded a charity to help improve access to educational opportunities for students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
After the last game, Dan Bailey became the first NFL kicker to miss every kick in a game since 1961. While he missed many opportunities, he’s also not the first of the Vikings kickers to disappoint coach Mike Zimmer in his seven seasons with the team. He expressed his disappointment after Tampa Bay won the match with a score of 26-14 and defended Bailey, but he also admitted that the team should decide whether to choose their fifth kicker for the past seven years.
Blair Walsh Was the First of the Failed Kickers for the Vikings Back In 2015
Blair Walsh went off the rails in 2015, ending the year with the infamous 27-yard miss in the game with the Seahawks. The Vikings lost that NFC playoff but supported Walsh regardless. That was until he missed eight kicks in nine games and then released in November 2016. Kai Forbath then replaced Walsh and made 21 straight field goals. His streak extended into the 2017 season, but general manager Rick Spielman drafted Daniel Carlson in 2018.
Daniel Carlson Also Managed to Miss Three Field Goals In a Single Game
Missing three field goals in a game got Carlson jettisoned from the organization after just two games. He missed those field goals in a 29-29 tie, and Spielman cut Carlson the next day. Dan Bailey, a contender who was waiting to sign with a new team, was chosen to replace him. Since then, Carlson has moved in with the Raiders and is having his best season with 24 of 26 field goals and a 92.3% rate.
Before his last unfortunate game, Dan Bailey had managed to make the best stretch for any of the Vikings kickers under coach Zimmer. He went 35 straight games without missing a single back-to-back field goal attempt. Despite having some recent performance issues, he managed to rebound in a game against Jacksonville and made field goals from 23 and 48 yards during the fourth quarter and overtime. However, he did hit bottom in Tampa Bay with his three misses, which will almost certainly be the worst in his career. Whether the Vikings decide to replace Bailey or not remains to be seen.