Outsports hit the red carpet of the 20th annual ESPY awards on Wednesday. As we did for the NFLPA event in May, we wanted to talk with athletes and coaches about LGBT issues from having a gay teammate to the perception that pro athletes are big, dumb, homophobic jocks. We got our wish.
Stationed at nearly the end of the media line, we were worried about who might stop and talk with us. No worries needed. We happened to be placed right next to San Diego Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes, who was the guest correspondent for Young Hollywood. As the athletes gravitated to his familiar face, many of them were happy to spend a couple minutes with us. Over the course of Wednesday afternoon, we spoke to 15 active and former professional athletes, and several others. We'll bring you their thoughts over the coming weeks, starting Monday with a current Pro Bowl NFL player.
We also got the chance to say hello to our good friend Hudson Taylor, who was there as part of Buick's Human Highlight Reel. And good thing we did see him, as he fixed my collar (that apparently wasn't right before his magic hands fixed it).
The interviews we got:
- Five NFL players discuss the issue
- Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano has 'no issue' with gay teammate
- Tennessee Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck talked to his team about gays
- Seattle Seahawk Michael Robinson
- Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner hopes for acceptance of gays in the NFL
- Professional surfer Anastasia Ashley supports same-sex marriage
- Former NBA All-Star Cedric Ceballos lived with gay teammate in college
- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski 'cool' with gay teammate
Here is ESPN's press release on the event, including the award winners:
LeBron James Takes Home Three ESPYS; Brittney Griner Wins for Both Best Female Athlete and Best Female College Athlete, Shaun White Wins his Fifth Consecutive ESPY for Best Male Action Sports Athlete and Drew Brees Wins for Best Record-Breaking Performance
The biggest stars from the worlds of sports and entertainment gathered in downtown Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on Wednesday night to celebrate the best sports stories of the year at The 2012 ESPYS Presented by Capital One, hosted by Rob Riggle
The Miami Heat were the winners of the night as they were honored as the year’s Best Team, which was voted on live during the show via ESPN.com and Twitter, and LeBron James won for Best Championship Performance, Best NBA Player and Best Male Athlete. James is the first NBA player to win an ESPY for Best Championship Performance and as MVP in NBA Finals, averaged 28.6 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game and earned his first career championship.
The year that included the rise of “Lin-sanity” culminated with Jeremy Lin taking home the ESPY for Best Breakthrough Athlete. Best NHL Player went to Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings who, during a magical season for the Kings, allowed just seven goals in six games in Stanley Cup Final finishing the 2012 Playoffs with a 16-4 record, 1.41 goals against average and a .946 save percentage.
Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton won for Best MLB Player and Drew Brees won for Best Record-Breaking Performance for breaking Dan Marino’s single-season record for passing yards. Brees finished the season with 5,476 yards to break Marino’s long-held record of 5,084.
Best Game went to the NFC playoff match-up of the San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints, where Alex Smith completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds left as San Francisco earned a thrilling 36-32 playoff victory.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which recognizes individuals whose contributions transcend sports, was awarded to Pat Summitt, who served for 38 seasons as head basketball coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers, keeping the team among the nation’s elite while changing the way women’s collegiate hoops is perceived and inspiring women across the country. The award, which Peyton Manning presented to Summitt, honored the strength and courage that Summitt displayed during her tenure at UT and in the face of illness.
Another special moment in the show was the presentation of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, in honor of the late Jim Valvano and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Rob Lowe presented the award to former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand who serves as an inspiration to many as he strives to recover from a spinal cord injury that ended his playing career and changed his life forever
Other 2012 ESPY winners included Aaron Rodgers (Best NFL Player), Tom Coughlin (Best Coach/Manager) and Diana Taurasi (Best WNBA Player) who took home her third straight ESPY. Matthew Stafford won Best Comeback for returning from a shoulder injury after just three games in 2010 to pass for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns this season. Baylor University’s Robert Griffin III and Brittney Griner won Best Male College Athlete and Best Female College Athlete, respectively.
This year’s guest presenters included Jessica Biel (Total Recall), Connie Britton (Nashville), Kenny Chesney (Welcome to the Fishbowl), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Cody Horn (Magic Mike), Robert Griffin III, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kemp, Peyton Manning,Joel McHale (Community), Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), Rob Lowe, Steve Nash, Hayden Panettiere (Nashville), Danica Patrick,Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy), Aaron Rodgers and Shaun White.
Below is a complete list of 2012 winners.
The 2012 ESPYs – WINNERS
ARTHUR ASHE COURAGE AWARD: Pat Summitt
JIMMY V AWARD FOR PERSEVERANCE: Eric LeGrand
BEST IN SPORT
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: Brittney Griner, Baylor University
BEST MALE ATHLETE: LeBron James, Miami Heat
BEST MOMENT: Tim Tebow pass to Demaryius Thomas, AFC Wildcard game
BEST TEAM: Miami Heat
BEST COMEBACK: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
BEST COACH/MANAGER: Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
BEST GAME: San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints
BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE: LeBron James, Miami Heat
BEST PLAY: Christian Watford’s buzzer beater for Indiana win against Kentucky
BEST UPSET: Eighth seed Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE: Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks
BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Robert Griffin III, Baylor University
BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Brittney Griner, Baylor University
BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Kyle Maynard, Climbing
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jessica Long, Swimming
BEST MLB PLAYER: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
BEST NBA PLAYER: LeBron James, Miami Heat
BEST WNBA PLAYER: Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
BEST NFL PLAYER: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
BEST NHL PLAYER: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
BEST MLS PLAYER: David Beckham, Los Angeles Galaxy
BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Shaun White
BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Jamie Anderson
BEST BOWLER: Sean Rash
BEST DRIVER: Tony Stewart
BEST FIGHTER: Floyd Mayweather
BEST MALE GOLFER: Bubba Watson
BEST FEMALE GOLFER: Cristie Kerr
BEST INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE: Lionel Messi
BEST JOCKEY: Mario Gutierrez
BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER: Novak Djokovic
BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: Maria Sharapova
BEST TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE: Walter Dix
CAPITAL ONE CUP: Stanford Women’s Athletics and Florida Men’s Athletics.
The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2012 ESPYS recognizes both sport-specific achievements, such as “Best MLB Player” and “Best WNBA Player,” and best-in-sport winners, such as “Best Team” or “Best Female Athlete” that pit nominees from different sports against each other. The ESPYS honor ESPN’s commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYs in 1993.