Vote: Did Tim Thomas, Tom Brady, Jacoby Ellsbury or Kemba Walker Have the Best 2011?

Vote: Did Tim Thomas, Tom Brady, Jacoby Ellsbury or Kemba Walker Have the Best 2011?Tom Brady has a realistic chance of surpassing 5,000 passing yards, and in any other year, that would be a banner achievement.

Not this year. Not here.

Brady's assault on the record book is just one of a handful of epic performances from New England athletes in 2011. For the first time since Brady took his first snap with the Patriots in 2001, it's possible he is no longer the most beloved athlete among Boston sports fans.

UConn's Kemba Walker was the first to challenge Brady's status — at least in Southern New England — when he led the Huskies on a charge through the Big East tournament into the NCAA tournament, where UConn took home the national title and Walker was the most outstanding player.

Unfortunately for Walker, the pros own the region, with the Bruins holding majority ownership. When Tim Thomas staged a clean sweep of the Conn Smythe and Vezina trophies and the Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972, the Bruins goalie staked a claim to the hearts of all Boston hockey fans.

Winning has a way of magnifying each player's individual accomplishments, while losing has the opposite effect. Lost in the discussion of the Red Sox' late-season collapse was the fact that center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury transformed into an MVP candidate this year. His .321 batting average, 32 home runs and 105 RBIs can't be blamed for the Sox missing the postseason.

Oh yeah, and then there's Brady, who needs only 103 yards to become the third quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season. Maybe he's still the top cat, but he has some intense competition for his perch.

Which local athlete had the best 2011?

Yardbarker

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