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Brees was nice, but 2010 made way for the bad guy

Nice try, Graeme McDowell, but it's not gonna work.

Your comeback victory last weekend may have kept Tiger Woods from winning his first tournament in a year, but all you did was delay the inevitable. Tiger's gonna be back on top sooner rather than later. Matter of fact, I guarantee it.

Nice guys may not always finish last, but it sure seems like the bad guys are winning more than ever.

Don't get angry with me for that pronouncement, residents of Mt. Pious. I'm just being honest about the state of the sports world as we finish off 2010. Sports Illustrated naming Drew Brees its "Sportsman of the Year" is sweet and all, but unless you insist on turning a blind eye to reality, it's clear the true sports star of the year has been the Bad Guy. From cheaters to rules breakers to felons both alleged and convicted, the Bad Guy has carried the day throughout these past 12 months.

As desperately as Commissioner Goodell and his peers from other assorted pro leagues and college conferences try to marginalize the popularity of their ne'er-do-well athletes, the preponderance of evidence just can't be denied. Listen, I like the idea of bad guys -- as I've said many times, what would "Star Wars" have been without Darth Vader? -- but this thing's turning into a rout for the Dark Side.

Eighteen months ago, Mike Vick was in the joint. Now, he's in first place. He's an MVP candidate and the leading vote-getter for the Pro Bowl. He's also probably gonna sign a contract north of $100 million sometime soon. Take that, Brees.

All this week, Ben Roethlisberger has been showered with praise for his gutsy performance last Sunday night. Thanks to his effort against the rugged Ravens in spite of a broken foot, nose and offensive line, Roethlisberger has given the Steelers the inside track to a first-round playoff bye. It's almost enough to make you forget he didn't start his season 'til October because of the four-game suspension the Commish gave him for his bad behavior in that Georgia bar last spring. Almost.

But, hey, he's hardly the only player this year to shine after self-imposed shame. The guy on the receiving end of Roethlisberger's Super Bowl XLIII-winning pass, Santonio Holmes, has been dynamite for the Jets since his own season-opening four-game suspension ended.

Santonio's new pal, Braylon Edwards, came back from his drunk driving arrest in September to put up 87 yards and a touchdown in Miami.

Bucs rookie receiver Mike Williams also scored one of those DUIs in November, then returned that weekend to score a touchdown and lead Tampa Bay in receiving.

Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt got in a midweek bar fight back in October, and on the ensuing Sunday put up 225 yards receiving and three touchdowns.

Brett Favre, in his first game after the cell phone scandal broke, posted 264 yards and three touchdowns. Yeah, it hasn't been a banner year for him overall, but the gunslinger should consider himself lucky that the league didn't end his career with a suspension. (By the way, I'm not a crime scene investigator or private detective, but I'm pretty sure the mystery of who appeared in those infamous photos could've been solved with a modified version of a police lineup.) He ends up winning by TKO because, in spite of all his ridiculousness these past three years, I pity him for the way he's going out with this crummy Vikings team.

Related list -- Best Purple Uniforms
5. L.A. Kings (the purple-and-gold is back on an occasional basis).
4. Washington Huskies (they need to dump the white pants, though).
3. Vikings (would be better if they went back to the Tommy Kramer Era white face masks and simpler stripes).
2. Lakers (whether they're playing the Celtics in L.A. or Boston, it's the best uniform matchup in the NBA).
1. LSU football (the white jerseys at home are cool, but the rarely seen purple shirts are even better)

Also receiving votes: Baltimore Ravens (cool regional name, great logo, intimidating color combo... but the sum doesn't equal the parts); Sacramento Kings (go back to the Chris Webber black getups); TCU (good team, crummy uniforms); Rockies (eh).

Sorry for that detour. Let's get back to the Bad Guys...

The Patriots are steamrolling everyone who gets in their path. Makes sense they'd be the best NFL team in the Year of the Bad Guy, considering they're coached by videotaping trailblazer Bill Belichick.

Even the Saints' feel-good story can't be glossed over with a coat of lily-white paint, at least not completely. It's hard to be cynical about Brees' relationship with the city, but that's just the glass half-Disney side of things with the Saints. Let's keep in mind Drew's teammate, Reggie Bush, had to return his Heisman Trophy a few months ago for getting improper benefits while at USC.

Speaking of that irrelevant trophy, Auburn QB/child of alleged pigskin pimp, Cam Newton is hours away from winning it, then he'll move on to the pros to collect guaranteed millions. Nice of his father, Cecil, to announce he's skipping the ceremony so Cam can enjoy the moment. Considering the way things have gone, I won't be surprised if Cecil gets a trophy for father of the year.

Bad Guy Emeritus Kobe Bryant won another ring in June, this time with the help of reformed fan attacker Ron Artest.

[Related sidenote: after Artest fulfills his dream as an NFL tight end, he could be this generation's John Matuszak, which is to say, an intimidating athlete-turned-intimidating character actor…. Which brings up a related list:

Best Athlete-Turned-Actor
I'll just let the respective work speak for itself...

  1. Brian Bosworth -- "Stone Cold"
    1. Alex Karras -- "Blazing Saddles" and "Webster"
    2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- "Airplane"
    3. Jim Brown -- "The Dirty Dozen" and "Black Gunn"
    4. John Matuszak -- "The Goonies" and "Caveman"
    5. Bob Uecker - "Mr Belvedere" and "Major League"

Apologies for getting sidetracked again. Sometimes I can't help myself. Back to the Bad Guys...

LeBron James is universally reviled for turning his back on Cleveland in favor of taking his talents to South Beach -- but he's now living in South Beach instead of Cleveland. I'd call that a win, even if he never gets an NBA title.

Mike Tyson was just voted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who jumped off the USC ship moments before it sank, has his team in first place. Sure, the Seahawks don't actually deserve a trip to the playoffs, but as Carroll has already proven, there's no honor among thieves.

It's also been a banner year for some of the most traditionally villainous teams.

The Raiders aren't exactly world-beaters (although their head coach is an assistant coach beater), but they're in the playoff hunt for the first time in almost a decade.

The Philadelphia Flyers, with a roster full of modern-day Broad Street Bullies, made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

In just the last couple weeks, Darth Vader's conjoined twins -- the Yankees and Red Sox -- have escalated their perennial one-on-one battle of fiscal one-upsmanship to new heights of excess, splitting almost every noteworthy free agent between themselves while rendering the rest of the league less relevant.

This epidemic of evil afflicts more than just athletes and coaches. It's bled into the rest of what we see on our TVs. Jay Leno successfully torpedoed his successor and stole back "The Tonight Show." Noted hotel-room redecorator Chaz Sheen remains the highest-paid sitcom star on television. And all those deeply flawed people on the "Lost" island/purgatory ended up going to heaven (if I understand things correctly).

So what's in store for 2011? Well, more bad news for those of you who want your sports served up exclusively by G-rated stars. Like GD Spradlin says in "Apocalypse Now," "Good does not always triumph."

Tiger looks ready to dominate. The Yankees and Red Sox have better real lineups than my fantasy baseball lineup. The Flyers are rolling. Belichick's boys look unstoppable. Or maybe we'll get the Commish's Apocalypse Bowl - Vick's Eagles versus Roethlisberger's Steelers. The horror. The horror.

In the meantime, one thing's for sure: 2010 hasn't been a banner year for the righteous. Oh, well. I guess it's not all bad. At least the Cowboys stink.

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