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If I Needed a Winner in 2017

Gal Gadot

I was incredibly skeptical of the Wonder Woman franchise when the character was introduced in “Batman vs. Superman” and that Gadot, a relative unknown at that point, was cast in the part.

The stand-alone film in 2017 however far exceeded my expectations entirely due in part to Gal Gadot’s performance.

She’s charismatic, sincere, and funny, and the meta-narrative should be stated that her empowerment of women on and off-screen was essential and much-needed.

JJ Watt

Despite being one of the best defensive players in the NFL, J.J. Watt was criticized by many early in his career for his excessive social media presence including but not limited to his workouts, his association with celebrities, and his diet.

“Focus on the game and stop trying to be famous,” they said.

Little did we know that his massive social media following would become essential and Watt would become a shining example of how a famous and wealthy person can leverage their platform to bring aid to those in need.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Watt (who had already been sidelined for the year by the Houston Texans due to injury) took to social media to announce that he was raising relief money and set a goal of $200k. Within minutes, he raised the goal to $500k because the goal had been hit.

Then $1 million.

With each new goal, support flowed in almost immediately, mostly due in part to Watt’s well-established social media network of celebrities. Before long, Watt stopped setting any specific numerical value on the goal and just watched the support flow in.

He topped out at $37 million which if you need help with the math is 185 times what he set out to raise in the beginning.

Tony Romo

In 2016, I began to grow weary of the NFL.

Whether it was the quality of play, the game becoming more dangerous and grueling, or that I simply had no rooting interest, the NFL no longer was appointment television for me. I canceled NFL Ticket and just opted to watch whatever was on the national broadcast if I had some spare time.

As the 2017 season began, I was even less interested as controversy and politics somehow began to dominate the narrative.

Then I heard Tony Romo.

Tony Romo, as an NFL commentator broke the mold in 2017 and set a new standard for football color analysis.  Along with his exuberance, Romo dazzled fans with his knowledge of the game, and most significantly his ability to predict what play was about to happen based on what he saw.

Immediately, I began making plans to watch the CBS marquee game every week (and even the Thursday games) not only because Tony Romo was tremendously entertaining but because I was now learning something on every snap.

Watch this.

What is most heroic about Tony Romo saving football broadcasting is that now I can’t un-hear the comments by other analysts, most of whom now just come across as vapid, lazy, uninformed, past their prime or all of the above.

Here’s Dan Dierdorf from a couple of years ago:

Here’s Phil Simms from a couple of years ago. Thanks buddy.

See. You let these go for decades but now you’re hearing it now and you can’t unring the bell.

 

Honorable Mention:

  • Deshaun Watson
  • Barak Obama
  • Daisy Ridley

If I Needed a Laugh in 2017

Jimmy Kimmel

This is a minority opinion and the ratings don’t quite reflect it yet, but it’s my opinion that Jimmy Kimmel took Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert to school in 2017.

A couple of other things played into my conclusion, namely the excellent job he did hosting the Oscars, Fallon’s kid-glove handling (and hair-ruffling) of Donald Trump, and Colbert’s conscious decision to just go after an older demographic.

Kimmel meanwhile consistently made me laugh this year and regularly displayed a humor that I absolutely identify with, all the while not shying from major issues and offering his take. In fact I would go so far and venture to say that his intentional dive into politics and going to war with politicians may be one of his better bits.

Joel Embiid

Let’s get this out-of-the-way. He is a gifted and talented basketball player. His knowledge of the game, his ability to protect the rim, operate in space, handle the ball, and shoot from almost any range, are all only surpassed by one thing.

His comedy.

Joel Embiid makes me laugh. From his incessant social media trolling to his creativity in crafting his posts.

Look at the location on this Instagram post.

This is my favorite though: Cheering for the Astros while wearing a Dodgers Jersey.

Mike Judge

Judge’s most current project “Silicon Valley” was one of my favorite television comedies of 2017. Perhaps it’s because I now work in a technology-centric space, but the inside-baseball tech references regularly have me in stitches.

However, it’s not this show that puts Mike Judge on this list.

It’s watching his 2006 film, “Idiocracy” in 2017.

Released with little fanfare and lukewarm reviews more than 10 years ago, “Idiocracy” depicted an apocalyptic existence where evolutionary elements had diminished the human race to a state of remedial intelligence.

The film when viewed through the lens of today’s reality is one of the most predictive, prescient, and hilarious films in history.

Honorable Mention

  • James Corden – (“Carpool Karaoke” is well-known but for some reason is “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” always makes me laugh)
  • Leslie Jones
  • Melissa McCarthy – (Her take on Sean Spicer was tremendous)

 

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