By Walton Yeboah-Amoako @WaltYeboah on July 31, 2014
In America we love our athletes, and we really love them even more when they reciprocate the love by giving their all when the world is watching. For this reason, we've fallen head over heels for our sports heroes. No they aren't saving lives and no they're not perfect, but they do their best to represent their country well because they take a lot of pride in their craft. For that reason, I respect them. Here are just a few names to mention.
With 39 world records and 22 medals to his name, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. Anytime the summer Olympics come around, all of America must pause to watch Phelps swim. He most certainly has done his country proud, and I hope to see him one last time in Brazil for the 2016 Olympics.
Abby Wambach has scored more international goals than any soccer player whether male or female. She's a two-time gold medalist, and she's known best for using her head on the pitch. Wambach is probably the most passionate woman's soccer player in U.S. history, and at 34, she's still hungry for one more thing: a World Cup title. Hopefully Wambach can make her dream come true next summer, but either way, she's served her country well.
Clint Dempsey is an all-American boy who grew up in Texas. He spent seven years abroad playing in the English Premier League, and the experience certainly honed his skills. On the national level, Dempsey can be described as clutch. Whenever the U.S. need a goal, he's often the man with the magic. Dempsey showed his ultimate love for America recently when he came back to the U.S. to play in the MLS for Seattle Sounders FC. Welcome home, Clint.
If you love a fierce competitor then you have to like Kobe Bryant or at least respect him. Kobe has put a lot of basketball miles on his body with all of the playoff games he's been in, but that still hasn't deterred him from playing international ball for Team USA. When asked which was greater, an NBA title or a gold medal, Bryant went with the gold. He got his first gold in 2008 and he followed up with an encore in 2012 at the age of 34.
Unfortunately the greatest player in the history of U.S. men's national soccer was left off the 23-man roster for this past World Cup, but nobody can deny what Landon Donovan has meant to American soccer. Since he plays domestically in the MLS, he's really been able to establish a good rapport with the fans. Donovan's World Cup omission was not well received by his many supporters, but he still showed his love for team USA from stateside.
If Elvis Presley could have magically transferred his musical talents to the NFL, he would have been Peyton Manning. This southern boy is about as American as it gets and his humility is shocking when you look at all of his career accolades. Raised in a football home by two patient and loving parents, Manning quickly blossomed into a brilliant leader who is revered by nearly every American I know. He's a gentleman, so he loves us right back.
Tom Brady a.k.a. "Captain America" is the NFL's poster boy for success. The women love him, the fans love him and so did fate earlier in his career. With three Super Bowl rings and a lot more left in the tank, Brady could go on to become the greatest QB of all time. As a New England Patriot superstar, Brady has captured the eyes of the nation, and one could argue that New England is really America's team and not Tony Romo's Dallas Cowboys.
The "Minister of Defense" has always made his country proud, but this past World Cup revealed his "supernatural" side. Tim Howard won the whole country over when he tabulated 15 saves against Belgium in the knockout round. His performance was so good that he was "randomly" drug tested to see if he was on the juice. Howard predicted that the U.S. would survive the group of death, and he was right. There's no doubt that he loves his country.
A New York Yankee for life and a living baseball legend, Derek Jeter will be remembered with the likes of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. How can anybody dislike this guy? He's humble, he's a hard worker and he plays America's most American sport. This season has been one long farewell tour for Jeter, and with the respect that he's received from his peers, you might say that he's arguably America's favorite athlete.
This may come as a shock, but if you think about America, competition, patriotism and passion, then Joey Chestnut encompasses it all. Chestnut has become a permanent fixture at Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest and his "hunger" can't be questioned. Competitive eating does require training and discipline so I'll have to call him an athlete. In America, we take pride in being No. 1 in any competition. Chestnut keeps making us a winner.
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