He barely played last year. He was just cut by the Jets. He’s getting offers to play for $75 a game. He’s not a good “quarterback” by most definitions of the term. And yet, he topped this year’s list of Forbes’ “Most Influential Athletes.” He’s Tim Tebow — the biggest enigma in pro sports today.
According to Forbes, when Americans are asked “Which pro athletes do you believe carry the most influence with the public?” things such as winning percentage, personal statistics, endorsements and ability don’t come into play as much as “Is he Tim Tebow?”
As it turns out, you don’t need to play that much to make it onto this list. The top four athletes were either in action for just a few weeks last year, or spent time on the disabled list.
Here’s the top ten, with their “influence” percentage (the percent of Americans who found this person influential):
1. Tim Tebow: 29 percent.
2. Michael Phelps: 25 percent.
3. Usain Bolt: 23 percent.
4. Derek Jeter: 22 percent.
5. Peyton Manning: 21 percent.
6. Drew Brees: 21 percent.
7. Gabby Douglas: 19 percent.
8. Aaron Rodgers: 19 percent.
9. LeBron James: 18 percent.
10. David Beckham: 18 percent.
To think that Tim Tebow has more 11 more points of “influence”(whatever that really means) than LeBron James is crazy; that he beats out three other, infinitely better quarterbacks by a wide margin is even crazier.
If we can glean anything from this list, however, it’s that the media’s coverage of Tebow doesn’t entirely stem from their own preoccupation with the polarizing figure: It appears that the American public wants to see what he’s up to more than any other athlete today. Is it because we, as a country, love train wrecks? Because we want to see him persevere and succeed? Because we admire/don’t admire his religious beliefs? Whatever the reason, don’t expect his current lack of a full-time job to slow the Tebow story. We may just be getting started.
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