Brees Beats Rodgers to Top Power 100 Bloomberg Businessweek Sports Ranking

Drew Brees set records on the field as the New Orleans Saints quarterback this year and beat all other athletes off of it in the Power 100, a measure of performance, popularity and marketability, Bloomberg Businessweek reports on its website.

Brees broke Dan Marino’s 27-year-old National Football League record for most passing yards in a season with 5,476. Brees, 33, also completed a record 71.2 percent of his passes and threw for more than 300 yards in 13 of 16 regular-season games, the most in NFL history.

That performance and his popularity vaulted Brees to the No. 1 spot in this year’s Power 100, a ranking of athletes in the U.S. by CSE, a sports marketing firm in Atlanta, and Horrow Sports Ventures that uses data from Encino, California-based research company E-Poll Market Research.

CSE evaluated about 600 of the best-performing athletes from a pool of 3,000 based on statistics, the popularity of their sports, endorsement earnings and their reach on social media. Nielsen/E-Poll N-Score data, based on surveys that evaluate such factors as players’ name and face awareness, appeal, influence and trustworthiness, were also included to measure athletes’ endorsement potential.

Completing the top five were Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($19 million in earnings), New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ($28 million), LeBron James of basketball’s Miami Heat ($61 million), and tennis’s Rafael Nadal ($21.7 million). Brady and Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback who was ranked No. 15, will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

‘Universal Recognition’

Brees led the Saints to a 13-3 regular-season record this season before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. The Brees Dream Foundation, which he founded in 2003, has contributed more than $7 million to cancer research and care and to rebuild schools, parks, playgrounds and athletic fields in New Orleans, San Diego and Purdue, Indiana, according to the foundation’s website.

The quarterback earned $16 million in salary and endorsements in 2011, according to data from CSE. “He’s clearly an endorsement darling now,” said Rick Horrow, president of Horrow Sports Ventures and a contributor to Bloomberg Television.

Brees was ranked 25th in the 2010 Power 100, then moved up to seventh in 2011 after the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Newcomers to the list include Novak Djokovic (who went 70-6 with three Grand Slam tennis titles) at No. 9, U.S. Open golf champion Rory McIlroy at No. 21, and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who signed a contract extension worth $160 million over eight years, the largest in National League history, at No. 32.

Manning Disappears

As Brees rose to the top, last year’s most powerful athlete, Peyton Manning, fell to 51st place after missing the 2011 season following neck surgery. Golfer Phil Mickelson dropped to No. 18 from No. 4 after winning one PGA Tour event last season. Lance Armstrong, No. 8 last year, fell off the list entirely. The pro cyclist announced his retirement in February.

“The real key is measuring how these superstars perform,” said Horrow. In athletics, power means “earning power for athletes, owners, agents, communities and corporate brands.”

Following is the list. The numbers following athletes names are their previous rank. UR mean unranked last year.

1. Drew Brees 7
2. Aaron Rodgers 35
3. Tom Brady 5
4. LeBron James 11
5. Rafael Nadal 16
6. Roger Federer 15
7. Shaquille O’Neal 6
8. Shaun White 2
9. Novak Djokovic UR
10. Calvin Johnson 50
11. Luke Donald 87
12. Tiger Woods 3
13. Kobe Bryant 14
14. Dwight Howard 27
15. Eli Manning 17
16. Dwayne Wade 20
17. Kevin Durant 25
18. Phil Mickelson 4
19. Lee Westwood 21
20. Troy Polamalu 30
21. Rory McIlroy UR
22. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 42
23. Arian Foster 22
24. Dirk Nowitzki 66
25. Serena Williams 18
26. Albert Pujols 9
27. Adrian Peterson 33
28. Manny Pacquiao 24
29. Jeff Gordon 39
30. Derrick Rose 99
31. Ryan Braun 70
32. Matt Kemp UR
33. Maria Sharapova 83
34. Michael Phelps 12
35. Blake Griffin UR
36. Michael Turner 61
37. Jimmie Johnson 23
38. Miguel Cabrera 44
39. Maurice Jones-Drew 92
40. Caroline Wozniacki UR
41. Larry Fitzgerald 43
42. Roy Halladay 30
43. Matthew Stafford UR
44. Ray Rice UR
45. Adrian Gonzalez UR
46. Chris Paul 78
47. Charles Woodson UR
48. Usain Bolt UR
49. Floyd Mayweather Jr. UR
50. Matt Ryan 85
51. Peyton Manning 1
52. Curtis Granderson UR
53. Justin Verlander UR
54. Kevin Garnett 47
55. Landon Donovan 40
56. Amar’e Stoudemire 58
57. Patrick Willis 53
58. David Beckham 19
59. LeSean McCoy UR
60. Tony Stewart 62
61. Jared Allen UR
62. Carl Edwards UR
63. Deron Williams UR
64. Monta Ellis 55
65. Apolo Anton Ohno 10
66. Robinson Cano 54
67. Philip Rivers 37
68. Tim Duncan 65
69. Jonathan Toews UR
70. Russell Westbrook UR
71. Martin Kaymer UR
72. Clay Matthews UR
73. Steve Nash 51
74. Jose Bautista UR
75. Carmelo Anthony 48
76. Daniel Sedin UR
77. Rob Gronkowski UR
78. Derek Jeter 26
79. Abby Wambach UR
80. Andy Murray UR
81. Troy Tulowitzki 79
82. Lindsey Vonn 13
83. Petra Kvitova UR
84. Adam Scott UR
85. Kevin Love UR
86. Tim Thomas UR
87. Clayton Kershaw UR
88. Hope Solo UR
89. Carlos González 77
90. Pau Gasol 60
91. Terrell Suggs UR
92. Kevin Harvick 88
93. Venus Williams 32
94. David Ortiz 75
95. Wes Welker UR
96. Victoria Azarenka UR
97. James Anderson UR
98. Mike Wallace UR
99. Josh Hamilton 41
100. Steve Stricker 59

To contact the reporter on this story: Venessa Wong in New York at vwong70@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Beucke at dbeucke@bloomberg.net

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