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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

There are three events that consistently mark the middle of July on my calendar - the release of the annual update to EA Sports' NCAA Football game (which my colleague Adam Berry so generously opined on in Tuesday's paper), my birthday (today, time to do it big) and the always-interesting ESPY Awards.

The show is sadly not broadcast live - it was taped Wednesday and will air Sunday at 9 p.m. - but enjoyable nonetheless if for no other reason than because it's a chance to remember all the sweet sports moments from the year before.

For UF fans, there is the attraction of Tim Tebow competing as one possible reason to watch. The rising senior is up for Best Male College Athlete and Best Moment.

Best Male College Athlete: When I was handicapping this race, I came into it thinking I wouldn't pick Tebow but couldn't convince myself of anyone who was better. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford lost to him in the BCS National Championship Game (and it's not like he was ridiculously better during the regular season). San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg is a phenom, but I have to downgrade him for not getting his team past its NCAA Regional. Oklahoma basketball player Blake Griffin also did not win a championship, and despite being the easy No. 1 pick in this year's NBA Draft, he just didn't impress me in his sport as much as Tebow did in his.

Boston University hockey player Matt Gilroy may be getting undervalued by me, as his team won a title, and I'm admittedly not the biggest college hockey buff. But after looking up his background, he doesn't seem to be a clear level above Tebow, and I'm sure voters will be more inclined to pick someone from a bigger sport.

Best Moment: This category, unbelievably enough, is actually the one I think in which Tebow will come up short. Tebow's The Promise is going up against just two other events - Helio Castroneves winning the Indy 500 and the U.S. men's swim team's thrilling finish in the 4x100m freestyle relay during the 2008 Olympics. Castroneves' victory shortly after being found innocent on tax evasion charges is a story that greatly tugs at your heartstrings, but as a "sports moment," it falls far behind the other two to me.

Listening to The Promise in person is certainly a moment I'll never forget, and I think it will be well-remembered based on how the Gators finished the season. But the 2008 Olympics swimming competition and Michael Phelps' quest for eight golds stole a nation's hearts. In this particular race (which ranked No. 4 in my column Tuesday as far as the Top 10 Sporting Events I Wish I Saw Live), the Americans edged the French by .08 of a second after trailing by .18 of a second with 50 meters left. Jason Lezak, the team's anchor, swam the best 100 meters of his life with the fastest split of all time, preserving Phelps' quest for eight golds (he swam first in the relay, but this was Lezak's race to shine).

One for two isn't bad for Tebow, right? Although he did have the unfortunate luck of running into a camera crew from, the social gossip site, that quizzed him about his relationship prospects upon landing in Los Angeles.

You can't have it all. Unless, of course, it's your birthday.

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