By Tyler on June 16, 2014
It's the most wonderful season of all! We're about a week away from Christmas, so Santa is just about finalizing his annual naughty-or-nice list. While 2014 saw plenty of naughty from the professional sports world, let's make sure not forget about the good guys who went above and beyond these past 12 months. Here are 25 athletes on Santa's nice list in 2014.
No, this isn’t because he’s constantly giving gifts to opposing defenses, but good thinking. The younger Manning brother has shown support for several charities, but his most dedicated effort has been with his alma mater, Ole Miss. Eli set up a five-year campaign on behalf of the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children, where he promised to raise $2.5 million.
At this point, the man can do no wrong. He’s the “Big Fundamental” and one of the greatest players of his generation. You want to teach a kid to play basketball the right way? Start with film of Tim Duncan. He’s all about the team and winning, and he’s done a whole lot of it over his illustrious career.
The Kansas City Royals think Bumgarner belongs on the naughty list. Perhaps no man in baseball history has more single-handedly won a World Series for his team than the San Francisco Giants' big left-hander. Even after a historic postseason performance that instantly made him a baseball legend, Bumgarner could not have been more humble and gracious.
The legendary New York Yankees shortstop’s career came to an end in 2014. It's easy to see how well-respected Derek Jeter is around the sports world by the farewell tour and gifts he received at every stop the Yankees made this season. Jeter established the Turn 2 Foundation in 1996 with the mission to “create and support programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol.”
Prior to 2014, Kevin Durant had won just about every personal award an NBA player could ever dream of, except for MVP. Averages of 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists-per-game in 2014 led to Durant finally winning the coveted honor. It’s not for basketball that he lands on the nice list, but instead the emotional MVP speech he gave honoring his mother. Santa thinks you’re the real MVP, Kevin Durant.
Larry Fitzgerald has long been one of the good guys in the NFL. Superstar wide receivers often aren’t the friendliest or most unselfish guys out there, but the Arizona Cardinals' legend doesn’t fit the normal receiver mold. He established the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund, which helps children by providing funding for positive activities, such as youth football camps.
He came back and gave back to Cleveland this past offseason. In addition to his assisting prowess on the court, James has been extremely giving off the court. He founded the LeBron James Family Foundation, whose mission is to provide a positive effect in the lives of youths through education. While controversial, “The Decision” broadcast back in 2010 raised $2.5 million for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The Seattle Seahawks' franchise quarterback remains as humble as ever, even after leading the Seahawks to their first ever Super Bowl victory. Russell Wilson is quickly becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league and is the perfect example of how NFL teams want the face of their franchise to act on and off the field.
You don’t have to be a Golden State Warriors fan to love watching Stephen Curry. The sweet-shooting PG has led the Warriors to a scorching 21-2 start to the season. Only six other teams in league history (82-game era) have started as hot as the Warriors and Curry is an early front-runner for MVP. The Golden State franchise was miserable for the better part of 20 years and for giving their fans something to cheer for, Curry lands on the nice list.
The Northern Irishman’s 2014 was monumental and a career-changer. McIlroy won the Open Championship in July, becoming the first European golfer to ever win three different majors, and only the third golfer ever to win three majors by the age of 25. Less than a month later, the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer took home his second PGA Championship trophy. In the “absence” of Tiger Woods, golf’s new biggest star has filled in brilliantly for the sport.
Perhaps no one in sports had a more life-changing year in 2014. James Rodriguez was the biggest breakout star of the 2014 World Cup for his home country of Colombia. In only five games, Rodriguez scored six goals to win the tournament’s Golden Boot. His performance in Brazil resulted in a move from Monaco to Real Madrid for a transfer fee of $108 million, making Rodriguez the fifth-most expensive player in the history of the sport.
It’s such a shame the 2014 NL Cy Young and MVP winner struggled in the playoffs. Clayton Kershaw had one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history and led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the NL West Division title. Off the mound, Kershaw donates significantly to causes in Africa with his Kershaw’s Challenge program. Along with his wife, Kershaw runs an orphanage in Zambia and has been honored numerous times for his charitable contributions.
Serena Williams will go down as one of the greatest female tennis players in the sports history, but her greatness doesn’t stop there. Williams has won the Celebrity Role Model Award from the Avon Foundation for her work helping fight breast cancer. She has also won the “Young Heroes Award” for her support of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
This year was just the first year of what should be many MVP seasons for the Los Angeles Angels outfielder. Mike Trout is arguably the best player in all of baseball at just 23 years of age. MLB has to be thrilled with the example their best player sets with his all-out, aggressive, max-effort style of play.
The New England Patriots quarterback got off to a dreadful start to the 2014 season. Since those first few un-Tom Brady like performances to start the season, “Tom Terrific” has played well enough to enter the MVP conversation and has the Patriots in position for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Away from the field, Brady supports a number of charities, Best Buddies International being the most notable.
Since being taken first overall in the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Alex Smith’s career has taken more twists and turns than a Hollywood drama movie. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback has finally settled in as a quality starter in Kansas City. Smith is one of the more charitable athletes of today, and established the Alex Smith Foundation in 2005 to help foster teens succeed and thrive.
The Los Angeles Angels first baseman had a bounce back year in 2014. Besides his Hall of Fame caliber career, Albert Pujols and his wife run the Pujols Family Foundation. Founded in 2005, the organization serves to “promote awareness, provide hope and meet tangible needs for families and children who live with Down syndrome.”
The Denver Broncos quarterback founded the PeyBack Foundation shortly after being drafted in 1999. The foundation seeks to provide leadership and growth opportunities to youths at risk in order to promote their future success. Unlike many athletes with foundations, Peyton Manning is actually the president and plays a very active role. PeyBack has raised more than $10 million in grants and programs across the country.
The man in the No. 24 car has had a storied career that’ll put him in the history books as one of the most successful NASCAR drivers in history. Jeff Gordon has given back a good portion of what he’s taken in, and established the Jeff Gordon Foundation, which seeks to help raise funds for pediatric cancer programs. Gordon even started a Children’s Hospital in North Carolina.
Drew Brees has a reputation for being a goodhearted family guy and he’s earned it. The New Orleans Saints quarterback established the Dream Foundation, which worked with Operation Kids to rebuild schools and athletic facilities in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Brees is the type of player and person the NFL should feel lucky to have.
Shortly after being drafted, the Los Angeles Lakers' team doctors discovered that Ronny Turiaf had an enlarged heart. The Gonzaga alum underwent a six-hour open-heart surgery and returned to the Lakers in less than six months time. A few years later, Turiaf started the Heart to Heart Foundation to provide medical care to children who do not have health insurance and cannot afford the care they need.
This one might surprise some people, as Carmelo Anthony has been known to ruffle a few feathers in the locker room. The New York Knicks forward decided to stay in New York this offseason and continues work with his charity. The Carmelo Anthony Foundation seeks to give back to the community by providing programs and help for disadvantaged youths.
2014 was a year the NFL would like to soon forget. With the domestic violence and Adrian Peterson stories flooding news feeds, the support for Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still’s daughter was a much-needed, feel-good story. Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with stage four cancer in June. To help, the Bengals sold Devon Still jerseys and all of the nearly $1 million in sales were donated to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
For a player known for wagging his finger in opponent’s faces, Dikembe Mutombo is somewhat surprisingly one of the nicest people in sports history. Mutombo retired in 2009, but is still remembered as one of the most giving athletes of his generation. The 7-footer has won countless awards for his work, but perhaps his greatest example was the construction of a hospital in his African hometown.
The tennis legend officially retired in 2006, but still participates and excels in a few tournaments with other retired players every year. Andre Agassi deserves the No. 1 spot on the list for supporting many charities, but most notably for his own foundation. The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education provides recreational and educational opportunities for at-risk youths.
August 4, 2015 by Jacob Kornhauser
For whatever reason, star players and normal players in sports both draw their fair share of criticism. However, these 10 athletes get more than their fair share. Read More
The City of Brotherly Love produces tons of athletic talent, but none more talented than these 10 sports figures. Read More
August 3, 2015 by Seth Lassen
You'll be shocked to find out what she likes to do as a pre-fight ritual. Read More
August 3, 2015 by RanterX
It turns out not every single woman in the world is willing to cheat to be with Cristiano Ronaldo. Read More
August 3, 2015 by Jacob Kornhauser
Bostonians have a lot of pride in everything they do, but they have a special pride for their homegrown athletes. These 10 were the best to ever come from in and around the sports town. Read More
August 3, 2015 by Michael Compton
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah continues to impress. Read More
August 3, 2015 by RantSports Staff
Taking a look at the AFC West's solid longshot team for 2015, brought to you by Locker Room Picks. Read More
Khloe Kardashian can apparently check "boxer" off of her bucket list. Read More