Tom Brady, Shaquille O’Neal Among Eight Boston Athletes on Businessweek.com’s Power 100 List

Tom Brady, Shaquille O’Neal Among Eight Boston Athletes on Businessweek.com’s Power 100 List Peyton Manning might not be popular in New England, but he’s the most powerful athlete in America.

The Colts’ quarterback ranks first on Businessweek.com's Power 100 list for 2011. Manning takes over the top spot from Tiger Woods, who had been No. 1 since 2007 but dropped to No. 3.

The annual Power 100 measures the impact of athletes on and off the field, and Woods was not the only high profile star to take a hit in the rankings. LeBron James dropped from No.2 to No. 11 following his decision to move to Miami.

Eight New England athletes found their way into the top 100, starting with Tom Brady at No. 5. The Patriots quarterback's contract, good looks, supermodel wife, stellar regular season and an estimated $20 million in endorsements helped the NFL’s likely MVP move up from No. 30 last year, explains Businessweek.com.

Shaquille O'Neal was right behind Brady at No. 6. The Big Shamrock is a global phenomenon and has created his own brand — rapping, acting and playing basketball, bringing new meaning to the term “triple threat.” His move to Boston was good for a three-spot jump in the rankings from last year.

O'Neal's counterpart down low, Kevin Garnett, is the next New England athlete to make an appearance on the list, coming in at No. 47. The All-Star finally looks healthy again and has a sneaker deal with an international company from China.

Jon Lester checks in at No. 56. The Red Sox’ ace makes the leap after being unranked last year. If things go well for the Red Sox this season, Lester could see a similar bump. As Businessweek.com notes, the left-hander only made an estimated $250,000 in endorsements in 2010.

David Ortiz follows Boston’s ace at No. 75. The Red Sox’ designated hitter bounces back after being unranked in 2010. His strong 2010 season and an endorsement from Reebok, which is designing a cleat for him, led to Big Papi's return.

Paul Pierce (No. 80) and Rajon Rondo (No. 98) place four of the Celtics’ current starting five on the Power 100 list. Pierce dropped from No. 59 last year, but "The Truth" still is an eight-time All-Star, and the 33-year-old continues to play at an extremely high level.  Rondo's 13.4 assist per game average combined with his $10 million in earnings this year make him impossible to leave off the list.

Lindsey Vonn is the most powerful American women in sports. Fueled by her emotional Olympic gold medal in 2010 and numerous endorsements, the skier is No. 13 after being unranked a year ago.

Click here to see all the athletes on Businessweek.com’s Power  100.

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