He is a man without a team, but that hardly means Tim Tebow is any less influential to sports fans across the nation.
Forbes released its list of "America's Most Influential Athletes," and it will no doubt start a grand debate with Tebow atop the star-studded lineup.
Forbes' Tom Van Riper explained the criteria:
The latest surveys from Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research show these 10 pro athletes carry the most influence among U.S. fans. We included each athlete's N-Score, Nielsen's measurement for a player's endorsement potential.
Here is the leaderboard of influential stars along with percentages illustrating how well they resonate with fans:
- Tim Tebow - Influential: 29%; Awareness: 48%; N-Score: 227
- Michael Phelps - Influential: 25%; Awareness: 70%; N-Score: 401
- Usain Bolt - Influential: 23%; Awareness: 27%; N-Score: 125
- Derek Jeter - Influential: 22%; Awareness: 46%; N-Score: 184
- Peyton Manning - Influential: 21%; Awareness: 56%; N-Score: 325
- Drew Brees - Influential: 21%; Awareness: 31%; N-Score: 180
- Gabby Douglas - Influential: 19%; Awareness: 47%; N-Score: 362
- Aaron Rodgers - Influential: 19%; Awareness: 27%; N-Score: 133
- LeBron James - Influential: 18%; Awareness: 49%; N-Score: 112
- David Beckham - Influential: 18%; Awareness: 59%; N-Score: 245
And there you have a list that covers a wide swath of sports and success.
You have, in the case of David Beckham, an athlete who has spent years crafting a brand while playing in every corner of the world.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have Gabby Douglas, who used a few special days last summer to captivate the nation with her performance at the London Olympics.
And then you have Tebow, an athlete who continues to create tremendous buzz despite a lackluster season with the Jets—one that led to his recent release from the team.
The moment an athlete is cut, the nation usually loses interest immediately, but not with Tebow. The rampant debate of his next landing spot ranges from the unlikely to the wildly optimistic. Rumors suggesting that the quarterback might work as an analyst or play in an alternate league like the CFL have been bandied about.
Meanwhile, fans continue to go nuts for Tebow, including some in Jacksonville who started a White House petition for their beloved backup signal-caller.
Do you think Tebow is the most influential athlete today?
Tebow remains one of the more peculiar and intriguing sports stars in the nation. Although he helped the Denver Broncos win a playoff game after the 2011 regular season, he managed to throw just eight passes for the Jets in 2012.
He sits on top of a list of champions and athletes who have shattered records. In the case of "influential" athletes, there is something to be said for a polarizing figure like Tebow.
Hit me up on Twitter: Follow @gabezal