Why Is Tim Tebow Soaring to the Top on This Index?

For most observers, the year Tim Tebow spent with the Jets amounted to nothing less than a fall from grace. Following a triumphal season in Denver, Tebow rarely played for the Jets, making zero impact on a bad team. What he did do was draw nonstop media coverage, which is his specialty. In fact, Tebow is so intriguing to the world that he scored #1 of Forbes’s Most Influential Athletes 2013 list and is now surging upward on The Wall Street Journal’s ”NYIndex.”

At a glance, the NYIndex would seem to be a strange place for Tebow to be gaining ground. Didn’t a New York team just reject him? Yet this index factors in two elements where Tebow rates high: media coverage and contribution of industry to G.D.P. The NFL , where Tebow is not currently employed, remain a mammoth in terms of earning potential and continues to outpace America’s National Pastime in terms of cash netted.

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Tebow stirred a crowd Thursday night in Michigan with a motivational speech and reminded everyone why his play on the field matters little to onlookers. “Tebow Mania” is a quantifiable asset, something which could attract attention for a team whose fans have become bored and potentially turn around the culture of a dying franchise. Being the most influential athlete while not playing good ball is a tough feat to pull off…

Yet as dueling ad campaigns in Florida proved, there is no end to the fascination with Tebow, giving struggling teams an opportunity to spark interest (in this case, the subject was Tebow potentially leading the Jacksonville Jaguars). The WSJ index is apparently noting that bargaining power Tebow holds. Even if he can’t throw like Elway, he can sell like few others.

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But Tebow’s salary versus on-field performance might make his valuation on the the NYIndex most understandable. Tebow earned $2 million for throwing 39 yards during the 2012 season, which comes out to $53,846 per yard, which is $50,000 more per yard than Peyton Manning earned. Anyone who can influence management to pay him on that scale is worthy of the highest esteem — at least on the WSJ and Forbes lists.

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