Tim Tebow doesn’t even have a team to play for, but that hasn’t stopped him from being named the most influential athlete in the country.
Forbes.com released its annual poll, conducted by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, yesterday and former Jets quarterback Tim Tebow took the top spot. The scientific survey had 29 percent of responders answer Tebow had the most influence on fans in the country. Respondents were also asked about their awareness of an athlete. Forty-eight percent of them had heard of Tebow.
Of course, Tebow has a fervent group of fans, first developed during his tenure at the University of Florida. He won a Heisman trophy and was part of two national championship teams. He has been outspoken in his evangelical faith, garnering support from a wide variety of Christians who might not have even been football fans beforehand.
Tebow was drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2010, but after a successful 2011 in which he took the team to the playoffs and won a game, he was traded to the Jets.
The Jets used him sparingly in 2012 and released him last month.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who set the record for most medals in history last summer, finished second with 25 percent of the vote. Fellow Olympian Usain Bolt — the only non-American in the Top 5 — finished third at 23 percent. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was fourth at 22 percent and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was fifth (21 percent).
British soccer player David Beckham, who left MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy to return to Europe, finished 10th. He was the only other non-American on the list besides Bolt.
Phelps led the way in terms of awareness by a large margin. The 18-time gold medalist, also a record, was known by 70 percent of poll takers.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.