When Forbes publishes its annual list of the most influential athletes in professional sports, the title of the poll itself is usually a lie. While that may be the intention and the question asked to respondents, the question they’re really answering is this: who’s the most popular athlete?
Or worse, this: what athlete’s name do I recognize? The answer to this question can be judged by the Nana index, something we here at The Score’s palatial towers made up long ago which gauges the likelihood of a grandmother recognizing any given athlete or celebrity. Tim Tebow often ranks alongside the Biebs on the Nana index.
Tebow topped the Forbes list this year, even though at the moment he may still be an athlete, but not a professional athlete. However, Tebow is the rare exception in that at least for now, he really is influential.
Of the over 1,000 participants, 29 percent said they felt Tebow is the most influential athlete. He’s immediately followed by Michael Phelps (25 percent), and Usain Bolt (23 percent) due to their lingering pull following the Olympics last summer. For Phelps and Bolt, their influence is still of the marketing variety, as their likeness remains something that people identify with and follow. Tebow certainly has influence there too, but he aligns more with the true definition of the term: he can make people do and feel things, often with absurd passion.
He still has a confusing sort of aura that’s hovered. Bolt and Phelps have broken records, won medals, and been the Olympic darlings of their respective countries. Over the past year, Tebow has done nothing of athletic value. Absolutely nothing.
Yet somehow despite his inactivity, he’s remained extremely polarizing, and therefore also highly influential. Take just this morning, for example. With Tebow an NFL free agent and seemingly no landing spot in sight, a group of Jacksonville Jaguars fans submitted a petition to the White House, asking President Barack Obama to become involved and ensure that Tebow becomes their next quarterback over Blaine Gabbert.
No, that really happened. Here’s the text:
Jacksonville Jaguars fans want the team to sign recently released QB Tim Tebow. However, rookie general manager for the Jacksonville Jaguars David Caldwell is blocking this from happening. If the Jaguars sign & START Tebow, home games will be sold out, sales will spike, the team will win and the fans will be happy.Mr. Caldwell is ignoring lots of facts about the misunderstood Tim Tebow while in Denver: Passer rating of 125.6 is highest ever in Broncos postseason history. Most yards per completion (31.6) in NFL playoff history.100.5 QB rating is best ever for a Broncos QB in his first start.Third most passing yards in a game by a Bronco rookie QB. (308, in his 2nd start), First 15+ point comeback in the final 3 minutes of an NFL game since the merger, 7 game winning drives in just 16 games!
I won’t debate their numbers or statements here. I’ve spiraled into many an anti-Tebow rant before, and have been accused of a love affair with him, or something.
Instead, what’s important/remarkable is that until it was pulled down by the White House, 315 people had already signed this petition, meaning that 315 people actually still consider him an NFL starter even after he was passed over for Greg McElroy, and even after it’s been made clear that he wouldn’t be a starter in the CFL either.
Most importantly, 315 people were motivated to take action. Insanely ridiculous action, but action nonetheless. That’s…influence?