Colts QB Manning ranked most powerful athlete

DETROIT (Reuters) - He won't hoist a Super Bowl trophy this year, but Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning can find comfort in a new survey that ranks him the most powerful athlete for his play on the field and his popularity off it.

The National Football League star, with $30 million in annual earnings, was ranked atop the second annual Bloomberg BusinessWeek/Horrow Sports Ventures Power 100 list, topping Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White.

Last year, Manning ranked No. 5. Among his sponsors are MasterCard, Adidas AG's Reebok, PepsiCo's Gatorade and Kraft Foods Inc's Oreo brand.

The list ranks athletes who play or have a major presence in the United States, based equally on their performance and popularity.

The business of sports, estimated at $750 billion globally according to Rick Horrow, continues to grow, fueled by companies looking for the next popular athlete to pitch their product or service, as well as consumers' growing desire for entertainment options at home that push TV rights deals ever higher.

Pro golfer Tiger Woods held the top spot last year but slipped to third after not winning one tournament last year while trying to rebound from the hit to his image after a late 2009 car accident led to revelations of marital infidelities.

Rounding out the top five were golfer Phil Mickelson and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Manning was one of 27 NFL stars on the list, the most for any sport. Major League Baseball had 23, led by St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols at No. 9.

There were 18 National Basketball Association players, seven golfers, seven NASCAR drivers, six tennis players and five Olympic athletes on the list. There also were three National Hockey League players, two Major League Soccer players, a boxer (Manny Pacquiao at No. 24) and a cyclist (Lance Armstrong at No. 8).

The on-field play was ranked by looking at each athlete's performance over the past two years, heavily weighted to last year. The off-field rating was determined by endorsement income and popularity and influence according to an outside poll.

Manning ranked No. 6 on the field and No. 2 off it, while White was No. 139 on field and No. 1 off, according to the survey. NFL running back Arian Foster reached No. 22 overall thanks partly to his No. 1 on-field ranking.

Olympic gold medal-winning skier Lindsey Vonn jumped from not ranked overall last year to No. 13 and was the top-ranked female athlete.

A well-known name who slide on the list was NBA star LeBron James, who fell from No. 2 last year to No. 11 this year because his off-field image was damaged by the criticism he took for how he handled his free-agent move to Miami from Cleveland.

The full list can be found at http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/20110124/power-100-2011/.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman: Editing by Steve Orlofsky)