Peyton Manning is No. 1

What is power in sports? It's not simply the ability to bench-press a truck or crush a golf ball down the fairway. While such talents are impressive, there are other attributes that fans—and advertisers—value just as highly. It's the combination of athletic achievement plus the ability to connect with an audience on a deeper, more personal level that separates mere jocks from the stars. Indeed, the everyman image often earns the highest ranking and the biggest earnings. That explains why the No. 1 spot on the 2011 Power 100 ranking went to Peyton Manning, the well-liked, hard-working Colts quarterback who appeared in two of the last four Super Bowls and led his team to victory in Super Bowl XLI. This year, 2010's No. 1, Tiger Woods, dropped in the rankings when his once-squeaky clean image was revealed to be a sham. Still, Woods has spent an unprecedented 623 weeks atop the World Golf Rankings and in 2010 managed to rack up more than $70 million in earnings, mainly from existing endorsement deals. Even with his earnings down 32 percent from the more than $103 million he took in last year, Woods outpaced all other pro athletes. It's not just likability that moves us. Fans also love the mental toughness it takes to crush competitors and dominate a sport in the manner of Roger Federer or Shaun White.

For the Power Sports 100, Bloomberg BusinessWeek worked with CSE, formerly known as Career Sports & Entertainment, and Businessweek.com columnist and Bloomberg TV contributor Rick Horrow of Horrow Sports Ventures to determine the 100 most powerful athletes on and off the field. No coaches, owners, managers, executives or retired athletes were considered. Off-field metrics included the results of polls on individual athletes by E-Poll Market Research and estimated endorsement dollars. On-field metrics were tallied on those who outscored, out-tackled, or outskated the competition during 2009 and 2010. Sports were weighted according to their popularity in the U.S. For a complete methodology click here.

Click here to see the complete 2011 Power 100.
 
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