Tebow: Most popular active professional athlete, according to ESPN

Posted Jan. 11, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

Tim Tebow has joined the ranks of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James.

He was voted America's favorite active pro athlete for the month of December, according to the ESPN Sports Poll. In the 18 years in which the poll has been offered, only 11 athletes have graced the top of the monthly ratings.

"To put this in perspective, Tim Tebow rose to the top before the end of his second pro season. It took Tiger Woods three years, LeBron James eight years and Kobe Bryant 11 years," said Rich Luker, founder and director of the ESPN Sports Poll. "I think we may be at the front end of a new era in sports stars."

While he completed less than half of his passes, fumbled seven times and gained just 6.38 yards per attempt in the 2011 regular season, the Broncos' QB only grew in popularity, particularly after his 80-yard touchdown strike led Denver to an overtime victory over Pittsburgh in the wild-card playoffs last Sunday. Of course, that win, which occured in January, wasn't even factored into the poll. Perhaps it's what ESPN reporter Ed Werder described as Tebow's sincerity and the quarterback's willingness to let people get close to him that drove his popularity sky high.

Regardless, Tebow finished with three percent of the vote, beating Kobe Bryant (two percent), Aaron Rodgers (1.9 percent), Peyton Manning (1.8 percent) and Tom Brady (1.5 percent) to take home the honor of being America's favorite active professional athlete.

The poll results were gathered from interviews with 1,502 Americans, aged 12 and older.