Best Of 2006

Best-Loved Local Athlete: Mike Alstott

The Bucs fullback has not been what you’d call a major force on the field for quite a few years, but that hasn’t dampened the ardor of Tampa Bay sports lovers. This might be — probably should be — Alstott’s last year, and if he retires he’ll have accomplished something truly rare in modern pro sports: playing for one team his whole career. Alstott has taken a number of pay cuts and surely passed up some potentially lucrative feelers from other teams to stay a Buc. His hard-nosed, smash-’em-up running style seduced fans back when the team wore sherbet-colored uniforms, and his complete embrace of the community — including all kinds of charity work — has kept the romance going. No. 40 is one of those guys you’re apt to see around town, and if you stick out a hand, he’ll shake it.