Ranking the world’s most powerful athletes

Tiger Woods is on crutches but said yesterday he plans on competing at next month’s U.S. Open at Congressional.

We rank the world’s most influential and powerful athletes. Healthy or not, all eyes and money remain focused on Tiger Woods.


1 Tiger Woods
— The planet’s most recognizable athlete hasn’t won a tournament in two and a half years, hasn’t stood on two healthy legs in three and just dropped out of the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in 14 years.

“So what?” was his response at April’s Masters.

Good point.

Tiger doesn’t have to have his name on the top of the leaderboard to remain the top athlete on Forbes’ Power 100. Nor did he need a consistent swing to rake in $75 million in 2010. Woods has remained the most popular and polarizing athlete since Michael Jordan hung up his Bulls jersey, and he figures to stay that way if he can win another major this year.

2 Lance Armstrong — People are rooting hard for him — and the man isn’t even competing anymore. While fending off cheating allegations, he continues to focus on his foundation, which is one of the top 10 groups funding cancer research.

3 Peyton Manning — The Colts’ quarterback could overtake Woods in endorsements this year. The four-time NFL MVP remains the face of the league and is the most lethal passer at the most important position in professional sports.

4 Tom Brady — He may not be shouting at you to “cut that meat,”?but he’s must-see TV, even during the lockout, when videos of him awkwardly dancing went viral.

5 Jimmie Johnson — The  five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champ is the most dominant athlete in a sport that is bigger than the NFL in parts of the South.

6 Manny Pacquiao — Pacman is the world’s most dominant athlete. The congressman took in $20M for dusting Mosley and could earn $50M if he fights Mayweather.

7 LeBron James — Cleveland still hates him, but David Stern will always love him. After teaming up — or copping out, however you look at it — with D-Wade and Bosh in Miami, LeBron has paved the way for future superteams to take over the watered-down NBA.

8 Albert Pujols — The Cards’ slugger may be offered $30 million a season when he tests free agency this winter. His move could set in motion a much-needed MLB salary cap.

9 Kobe?Bryant
— The Black Mamba is still the NBA’s best player. LeBron couldn’t have led an underwhelming Lakers’ squad to three straight NBA Finals. Although his career is on the decline, his international brand remains stronger than LeBron’s.

10 Cristiano Ronaldo — The Real Madrid star is soccer’s version of Brady. His transfer fee from Man. U was a record $132 million and he dates SI Swimsuit cover girl Irina Sheik.


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