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Polamalu, Manning and Tebow join Brady on Forbes' list

Tom Brady's work ethic and success on the field and the publicity his changing hairstyles and supermodel wife bring him off the field has vaulted the New England Patriots' quarterback to the No. 2 spot on Forbes magazine's 2011 list of America's most influential athletes.

Brady is one of four NFL stars on the 10-athlete list, joined by Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson finished first following a survey, by E-Poll Market Research and Nielsen Media Research, of 1,000 U.S. adults on athletes they consider influential. Only those known to at least 20 percent of respondents were eligible for the list, Forbes reported, which eliminated boxer Manny Pacquiao, who posted the highest influence numbers but was familiar to only 12 percent of those surveyed. Tebow made the list although only 19 percent were familiar with him.

The survey also assessed athletes' likeability.

Polamalu was sixth on the list, Manning seventh, and Tebow dropped from third in last year's survey to 10th after spending most of his rookie season in the NFL on the Broncos' bench.

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third, followed by NBA star Shaquille O'Neal and Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps. NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon was eighth and NBA star LeBron James ninth.

Brady's 23 percent score for influence was just two points behind Johnson's. Polamalu's influence was noted by 21 percent, and Manning and Tebow were at 20 percent. Polamalu had the highest numbers among the NFL contingent for likeability (64 percent) and the lowest percentage that dislike him (3 percent). Respondents, 49 percent of them, were most aware of Manning, who had the highest N-Score, a rating to gauge endorsement potential, with 292. The average athlete's N score is 14.

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