Sporting News Names Matt Leinart 2005 Sportsman of the Year

Dec. 20, 2005

Matt Leinart may be oneof the nation's most recognized quarterbacks, but he finds joy in thelittle things­, like his aging, bumperless Ford Ranger, 'Danger Ranger;' eatinglunch with his dad on Wednesdays and visiting his old high school­enoughjoy to put an eight-figure bank account on hold. To honor hissheerlove of the game Sporting News has named Leinart 2005 Sportsman of theYear.

While his down-to-earth attitude is a compelling attribute, it wasLeinart's record breaking play that really sealed the deal.Leinartis 36-1 in three years as USC's starting quarterback. He hasthrownfor 10,095 yards and his passer rating, 160.5, is fifth all-time.Leinart has rung up 95 touchdown passes, a Pac-10 record, with just 22interceptions.

Leinart doesn't just rack up numbers. He gets results and has thehardware to prove it­a Heisman and two national championships.

Leinart is, above all, an athlete who is at ease with himself and theengineer of his own destiny. When it came time for him todecide between a potential $49.5 million deal in the NFL or to continuehis career at USC, Leinart decided he just wanted to be a kid foranotheryear.

He made the decision himself, and while though laudable to some critics,Leinart estimated that by the end of last season he was at just 75percent and didn't want to have to face the NFL draft gauntlet inless-than-perfect condition. Leinart also wanted to fulfill a goalhe set back in the summer of 2004, when USC's win streak was infledglingform. He told Sporting News that his goal was to stay throughsenior year and win three titles­which is why those who know Leinartbestaren't surprised he stuck around another year.

And his decision has paid off. 'He has gotten better in everyway,'says USC coach Pete Carroll. 'He is stronger, he is more fit, heismore confident, he is smarter, he is more mobile.'

'I have great admiration for Matt Leinart and what he has accomplished in his three seasons as a starter at USC,' said John Rawlings, Sr. VP/Editorial Director of Sporting News. 'First, he took over as starting quarterback with high-pressure expectations and handled those very gracefully. Then he leads USC to a national championship and wins the Heisman. This year he played very well and watched while his teammate, Reggie Bush, won the Heisman and did nothing but encourage that. All-round, he is a remarkable young man.'

Sporting News, the nation's oldest sports publication, has presented the Sportsman of the Year award annually for the last 37 years. The honoree is determined in conference by editors.

SPORTING NEWS SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

1968 Denny McLain
1969 Tom Seaver
1970 John Wooden
1971 Lee Trevino
1972 Charlie Finley
1973 O.J. Simpson
1974 Lou Brock
1975 Archie Griffin
1976 Larry O'Brien
1977 Steve Cauthen
1978 Ron Guidry
1979 Willie Stargell
1980 George Brett
1981 Wayne Gretzky
1982 Whitey Herzog
1983 Bowie Kuhn
1984 Peter Ueberroth
1985 Pete Rose
1986 Larry Bird
1987 No award
1988 Jackie Joyner-Kersee
1989 Joe Montana
1990 Nolan Ryan
1991 Michael Jordan
1992 Mike Krzyzewski
1993 Cito Gaston & Pat Gillick
1994 Emmitt Smith
1995 Cal Ripken, Jr.
1996 Joe Torre
1997 Mark McGwire
1998 Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa
1999 New York Yankees
2000 Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner
2001 Curt Schilling
2002 Tyrone Willingham
2003 Dick Vermeil and Jack McKeon
2004 Tom Brady
2005 Matt Leinart

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