Jimmie Johnson named most influential
Tebowmania" and "Linsanity" are catching up with him fast, but NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson is still leading the field as America's Most Influential Athlete, according to Forbes.
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The 36-year-old perennial Sprint Cup Series champ, whose talent and guy-next-door demeanor endears him to fans, emerged on top of a host of NFL quarterbacks and other elite athletes to take the premier spot on the annual public poll for the second year in a row.
Former Broncos signal caller and current
He was joined in an amazing rise in prominence by Jeremy Lin, who came from nowhere to slip into the top 10 for the first time. The
"The NFL is just killing it, the league is now part of the American landscape," said Stephen Master, vice president of sports for Nielsen, which co-runs the survey the list is based on.
Among those who dropped out of the top 10 from last year were driver Jeff Gordon, swimmer Michael Phelps, footballer Troy Polamalu, and basketballers LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal.
Candidates were limited to pro athletes who are currently active -- hence O'Neal dropping off the list -- and who score at least 20 percent "awareness" with the general public in the poll, which measures their likeability and whether they are considered influential to marketers.
The Top 10 is:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Tim Tebow
3. Peyton Manning
4. Manny Pacquaio
5. Tom Brady
6. Aaron Rodgers
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8. Drew Brees
9. Eli Manning
10. Jeremy Lin