- James Walker, ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter
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According to Forbes magazine, Tebow came in at No. 1, followed by swimmer Michael Phelps, sprinter Usain Bolt, baseball star Derek Jeter and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Ironically, Manning replaced Tebow in Denver. But this poll indicates Tebow is more popular on a national scale.
The Forbes report hammers an important point home: Tebow's popularity and influence are working against him in the NFL. One of the reasons Tebow doesn't have a job is the immense following and potential distractions he would bring to an NFL team.
Most agree that Tebow is not a franchise quarterback, but few can argue that he doesn't have the athleticism, size, toughness, character and work ethic to play in the NFL in some capacity. That is why many, including the AFC East blog, have suggested Tebow to be open-minded about a position change in order to increase his chances of earning a roster spot this season.
As we found out with the New York Jets in 2012, Tebow as a backup quarterback is a disaster waiting to happen. His immense popularity makes him an immediate fan favorite and puts too much pressure on franchises to make an immediate position change. Tebow's limitations, which include awful mechanics and poor accuracy, also makes it extremely tough to run a conventional offense.
Tebow is a good person who will make a tremendous difference off the field, and being popular is not his fault. However, any NFL team that takes in Tebow this year must also consider the full Tebow-mania package. That's enough to make most teams think twice.
Another high-profile publication released a sports popularity poll, and the result is still the same: Tim Tebow tops the list as the most influential athlete in the United States.