(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
"Many of the men and women who have earned the award have changed their sports, their communities and sometimes even the world," begins Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber in his nomination for the magazine's Sportsman of the Year. "This year there should be consideration for a man who changed a tire."
Capitals forward Brooks Laich, a well-known athlete here in D.C. who has scored 20-plus goals in his last three seasons but isn't quite a household name elsewhere, made headlines last spring after he changed a fan's flat tire the night of Washington's Game 7 playoff defeat.
"Too often professional athletes seem to live by separate rules if not on completely different planets," Farber writes. "They behave as if they are above us. But on a sad spring night in D.C., a small-town Saskatchewan guy lowered himself to the pavement."
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Nov. 30. The other nominees are the Philiies' Roy Halladay, golfer Lorena Ochoa, the Butler men's basketball team and Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy.