Forbes recently published a list of the “most influential athletes,” basing it on a survey conducted by some outfit called E-Poll Market Research along with Nielsen Media Research.
The two companies polled more than 1,000 adults, asking them what athletes they considered most influential and also considering their likability and awareness levels. They then filtered the list to include only those athletes known to at least 20 percent of the respondents.
Here were the results:
1. Jimmy Johnson
2. Tom Brady
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
5. Michael Phelps
6. Troy Polamalu
7. Peyton Manning
8. Jeff Gordon
9. LeBron James
10. Tim Tebow
-- You’ll note three race car drivers -- Johnson, Earnhard, Gordon -- all NASCAR stars. Endorsements play a part in making this list, and race car drivers, especially those in NASCAR, have some built-in advantages. Their sponsor agreements often get them into many advertisements for products, and their cars and uniforms are rolling billboards. Many of their endorsements are for auto-related products, and they have some added credibility there. Even someone like Martin Truex, known among NASCAR fans but not so much the general public -- has a national TV ad for NAPA Auto Parts.
-- Tim Tebow? Where do these 1,000 adults live, Gainesville, Fla.?
-- No Tiger Woods. No golfer at all, in fact. I would have thought Phil Mickelson would have been in the Top 10.
-- No baseball players either.
I was getting ready to jump on this last one. In fact, it was the first thing I noticed. How could any list of influential athletes not include at least one player from our “National Pastime”?
But then I did a little thinking, and, frankly, I really couldn’t come up with a good rant over the omission. About the only players I could make a case for are Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, both Yankees, of course, and pretty well known to even non-baseball fans.
Well, at least Jeter.
Go around the league and who else do you come up with?
Nobody stands out for the Red Sox the way Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli, and Roger Clemens once did. Nobody on the Mets either.
The Phillies have some great pitchers (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt) along with Ryan Howard, but I don’t think they should make the list either.
Evan Longoria is a possibility. But he labors for the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s almost like being an offensive lineman in the NFL.
Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins probably should get some consideration because of the commercial he does for Sony’s Playstation. But the theme of the ad -- actor Jerry Lambert’s character refers to him as a guy with no talent whatsoever -- pretty much says it all.
Other potential stars, like Chipper Jones in Atlanta, Albert Pujols in St. Louis and Josh Hamilton in Texas -- have more regional appeal than national status.
When it comes to players on the West Coast, unless you’re a Dodger you might as well be playing on the moon. People in the FBI’s witness protection program are better known than someone playing for the Seattle Mariners.
It could be we just are in a brief lull when it comes to “national” baseball stars and next year’s results may be completely different. I can’t see Shaquille O’Neal sticking around the list -- or the NBA -- much longer.
I don’t know how much more shampoo Troy Polamalu can sell either, so he could drop as well.
The longer Tim Tebow rides the bench in Denver the less “influence” he is going to have, though he does rate high in the character category.
That could open up a few spots for a baseball player to move in. Not sure who it would be at this point, but if somebody has a big postseason, endorsements usually follow, and that brings recognition.