An athlete who hasn’t won any professional championships or Olympic medals — and for that matter, who doesn’t even have a job right now — has been named the most influential athlete of 2013.
Topping the annual Forbes list is Tim Tebow, who saw little action last season as a backup quarterback with the New York Jets after polarizing fans the previous season — when he went on an improbable run quarterbacking the Denver Broncos to the playoffs.
Tebow was recently released by the Jets, and his future in the NFL is uncertain.
The Los Angeles Times reports: “The athletes he beat out included three 2012 Olympic gold-medal winners (No. 2 Michael Phelps, No. 3 Usain Bolt, No. 7 Gabby Douglas), three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks (No. 5 Peyton Manning, No. 6 Drew Brees, No. 8 Aaron Rodgers) and three athletes who have won titles in other pro sports (No. 4 Derek Jeter, No. 9 LeBron James, No. 10 David Beckham).”
The Forbes poll uses Nielsen surveys of U.S. fans and E-Poll Market Research.
“Of course, it should be pointed out that Tebow accomplished quite a bit — two national titles and a Heisman Trophy at Florida, a playoff win with the Denver Broncos — before spending the season mostly on the bench with the Jets last year,” the Times reports. “And it’s no secret that Tebow is a devout Christian — and an outspoken one at that. He has a huge following, many of whom could probably care less whether he ever plays in the NFL again.”