Pacquiao among most influential athletes: Forbes

Posted at 04/25/2012 6:51 PM | Updated as of 04/26/2012 11:32 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is included in Forbes’ list of America’s Most Influential Athletes for the year 2012, ranking fourth in a list dominated by quarterbacks of the National Football League (NFL).

Nascar driver Jimmie Johnson ranked first in the list, followed by New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Pacquiao was the only boxer on the list.

“Likeable boxing champ is a king among the Philippine population. The contrast with boxing “bad guy” Floyd Mayweather doesn’t hurt,” Forbes said of Pacquiao.

Following Pacquiao on the list were New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.

Johnson was named the most influential athlete for the second straight year. Forbes writer Tom Van Riper noted that Johnson’s talent and “guy-next-door demeanor” endeared him both to fans and to marketing chiefs of several brands including Chevrolet and Quaker State.

Six out of the 10 most influential athletes are NFL quarterbacks, something that can be attributed to the “dominance of pro football on television.”

“The NFL is just killing it, the league is now part of the American landscape,” said Stephen Master, Nielsen’s vice president for sports.

Accoridng to Van Riper, 30 million people watched every NFL playoff game last season, with a staggering 100 million watching the Super Bowl, which featured Manning’s Giants defeating Brady’s Patriots.

The Forbes’ list of America’s Most Influential Athletes is based on a survey conducted by Nielsen and E-Poll, wherein over 1,100 adults were questioned about dozens of well-known athletes “to measure their likeability and whether they’re considered ‘influential,’” Van Riper said.

“Candidates were limited to pro athletes who are currently active and who score at least 20% awareness with the general public,” he added.