Best Pro Athlete - 1999
Readers' Choice: Dan Marino
Fourth quarter. The Denver Broncos are putting together a late drive that could tie the game and shatter the Dolphins' playoff hopes. Enter Sam Madison. The second-year cornerback picks off an errant John Elway pass and returns it 35 yards to the Denver six-yard line. Ball game. The Dolphins never look back, winning their most impressive victory of the season. Elway ended up completing just 13 of 36 passes, a stink bomb of a performance caused by the Dolphins secondary. Madison and fellow cornerback Terrell Buckley were unbeatable, shadowing the Bronco receivers like flies on a horse's hindquarters, just as they did to opposing teams all season. T-Buck and Madison finished the season tied for second in the AFC for interceptions, with eight each, transforming the Dolphins' once-unseemly secondary into something to be feared. The Pro Bowl people may have dissed them, but we give the duo props. Madison gets the nod, though, because we like his loquacious tongue. "They have to get him out of the pocket because he's too short to see over the defensive line," he said of Bills' quarterback Doug Flutie before the Dolphins' playoff triumph over Buffalo. "We're going to be ready for that and get him on the ground and shove some Flutie Flakes down his throat."