The one knock I always had against the ESPYS (you know, back when I wasn’t employed by this amazing company), was that it wasn’t live. It was taped Wednesday and shown on Sunday. That’s a four-day, 96-hour tape delay of a show we already know the results of by the time it hits the airwaves. That’s all out the window this year when Seth Meyers takes the stage at Nokia Theatre to host the ESPYS live.
So, for example, if Sean Payton wins Coach of the Year instead of Mike Krzyzewski, there’s nothing stopping Nick Saban from pulling a Kanye West moment and stopping Payton mid-speech to give credit to Coach K and you’ll be able to see it all happen live.
Speaking of being live, I’ll be live on the red carpet at the ESPYS, hosting our red carpet show, which can be seen at Facebook.com/ESPN. We had a live test run yesterday at the ESPYS Golf Classic in the City of Industry and let’s just say it’ll be worth watching if for no other reason than to watch me stammer through interviews under the spotlight.
Anyway, before the show starts, here’s my prediction on who will win some of the most talked about awards, and no I don’t have any knowledge of who will win. For all I know, I could get all my picks wrong and wouldn’t be surprised if I do. OK, drum roll please…
BEST MALE ATHLETE
This will become a growing theme on a night that should feature plenty of Saints walking on stage but I'm going to take Drew Brees over Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Jimmie Johnson and Albert Pujols.
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
I heard Serena Williams threw an amazing “house party” (it wasn’t really a house, just a Bel-Air mansion she rented) on Tuesday and I’m guessing she’ll throw another shindig after she edges out Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and Lindsey Vonn for this award.
BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE
Hey, look, there's Drew Brees again, accepting an ESPY after beating out Anthony Johnson, Michael Phelps and Shaun White.
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE
This one’s tough but I have to take John Wall over Stephen Strasburg, Chris Johnson, Brittney Griner simply on the merits of the immensely popular John Wall dance.
BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE
I’ll take the Connecticut Women’s Basketball team and their 78-game winning streak over the likes of Usain Bolt, Brett Favre, Roger Federer and the Isner vs. Mahut match.
Since an upset category deserves an upset winner, I’m going with Frankie Edgar beating B.J. Penn at UFC 112 to shock fellow upset specials, Hawaii beating No. 1 Alabama in softball, Northern Iowa shocking No. 1 Kansas in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and Y.E. Yang stunning Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship.
Hands down the best moment of the year has to be the New Orleans Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV and giving the people still suffering the effects of Katrina something to cheer about. That moment just edges out Phil Mickelson at the Masters, Joannie Rochette at the Winter Olympics and Landon Donovan’s World Cup goal against Algeria.
I can’t imagine a scenario where the New Orleans Saints don’t edge out Alabama Football, Chicago Blackhawks, Connecticut Women’s Basketball, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees to win this award. The ESPYS pre-party had a Saints theme and something tells me the post-party will as well.
This is probably the toughest category for me to pick from but I’m going to give Sean Payton the nod for leading the Saints to the Super Bowl over Geno Auriemma, Joe Girardi, Phil Jackson, Mike Krzyzewski, and Nick Saban.
Give me Canada edging USA in the Olympic hockey championship game in overtime over the Twins beating the Tigers in extra innings in the AL Central one-game tiebreak and Duke beating Butler in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.
CASTROL EDGE PERFORMANCE UNDER PRESSURE AWARD
This one had to go to Landon Donovan’s World Cup goal against Algeria over Brett Fvare’s return to Green Bay and Stephen Strasburg’s MLB debut, Sidney Crosby in the Olympic Hockey Gold medal game.
BEST SPORTS MOVIE
I loved both Invictus and The Blind Side but I’ll give the edge to The Blind Side over Invictus, Big Fan, The Damned United and The Karate Kid.
BEST NFL PLAYER
Yep, you guessed it, Drew Brees again, taking an ESPY over Brett Favre, Chris Johnson, Peyton Manning, Darrelle Revis and Charles Woodson.
BEST MLB PLAYER
Albert Pujos should beat out Zach Greinke, Derek Jeter, Tim Lincecum, Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols for this honor.
BEST NHL PLAYER
I have to go with Sidney Crosby over Ryan Miller, Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Seden and Steven Stamkos.
Kyle Busch should take it over Dario Franchitti, Ron Hornaday, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Schumacher.
BEST NBA PLAYER
I know LeBron James should win but after the whole “Miami Thrice” thing and his performance against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs I have to go with Kobe Bryant over James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade.
BEST WNBA PLAYER
Give me Candace Parker over Tamika Catching, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi.
Since I can’t choose between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, I’m going to give the award to Georges St. Pierre.
BEST MALE GOLFER
I’m picking Ernie Els over Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
BEST FEMALE GOLFER
I like Cristie Kerr over Lorena Ochoa and Jiyai Shin.
BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER
You can’t go wrong with Roger Federer and he’s my pick but I think Rafael Nadal could easily win it. Sorry, Juan Martin del Potro, you don’t have a chance.
BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER
I like Kim Clijsters but this is between Serena or Venus Williams and I’ve always been partial to Serena so I’ll give her the award.
BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
I’ll take John Wall and his dance over Blake Geoffrion, Mark Ingram, Evan Turner and Garrett Wittels.
BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
You can’t go wrong picking a Connecticut women’s basketball player since Tina Charles and Maya Moore make up half the candidates are up for the award, but I’ll take Moore over her teammate and Megan Hodge and Megan Lagenfeld.
BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE
I’m going with “The Flying Tomato” Shaun White over Bobby Brown, Ryan Dungey, Mick Fanning and Garrett Reynolds.
BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE
I’ll take Torah Bright, who won gold at the Winter Olympics in the halfpipe, over Ashley Fiolek, Jen Hudak, Stephanie Gilmore and Ashleigh McIvor.
You have to go with Calvin Borel who became the first jockey to ride three Kentucky Derby winners over a four-year span to beat out Julien Leparoux and Mike Smith.
BEST MALE US OLYMPIC ATHLETE
This one is tough but since he showed he could dance almost as well as he could speedskate I’m going with Apolo Anton Ohno over Shani Davis, Evan Lysacek, Bode Miller and Shaun White.
BEST FEMALE US OLYMPIC ATHLETE
I talked to Lindsey Vonn after her SI Swimsuit shoot and she is as nice as she is talented on skis so I have to go with her here over Hannah Kearney and Julia Mancuso.
BEST MLS PLAYER
Not only in Landon Donovan the league MVP but he was the best player on the US Men’s National Team so he’s got to win over Connor Casey, Jeff Cunningham, Shalrie Joseph and Kasey Keller.
And last but certainly not least...
BEST TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE
I’ll take Usain Bolt and all his world records over Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards.