Last week, despite the labor battle, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called an NFL player. He didn't just call any player. He called Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who promptly tweeted about the conversation, saying it was an "amazing surprise."
Goodell's choice was a good one, as it turns out that Chad Ochocinco is the most influential sports personality in the online world.
In order to figure this out, I asked my Twitter friend Eli Langer to compile a database of athletes who play in the United States.
I then, typed their Twitter addresses into Klout.com, a company that measures influence by rating a specific person from 1 to 100 using over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter. The score takes into account how much people listen to the personality's messages and how often those messages lead to further action by those that follow them.
We've been trained to rank people based on their number of followers or numbers of fans on facebook, but numbers don't necessarily mean that an athlete is good at interacting. That's what this list tells us.
Below, you will find the list of the most influential 14 athletes, who play in the United States, as measured by Klout. Click on their names to see their Twitter feed.
1. Chad Ochocinco, Score: 88
2. LeBron James, Score: 83
2. Mike Tyson, Score: 83
3. Mike Vick, Score: 82
3. Rory McIlroy, Score: 82
5. Lamar Odom, Score: 81
5. Kevin Durant, Score: 81
7. Reggie Bush, Score: 80
8. Tiger Woods, Score: 79
8. Ian Poulter, Score: 79
8. Jeff Gordon, Score: 79
8. Serena Williams, Score: 79
8. Dwyane Wade, Score: 79
8. Paul Bissonnette, Score: 79
12. Floyd Mayweather, Score: 78
12. Steve Nash, Score: 78
14. Dwight Howard, Score: 77
14. Jimmie Johnson, Score: 77
14. Kevin Harvick, Score 77
So let's analyze this a bit.
Given Ochocinco's appeal and influence, advertisers should probably go after him more. He is most associated with Motorola, whose reported $400,000 deal with him included sponsorship of his Twitter page.
Although there are many LeBron bashers out there, he did finish the regular season with the most popular jersey in the NBA and his place on this list proves that people still listen and react to him. Mike Vick is obviously a tremendously polarizing figure, so it's amazing to find him up so high on the list. He's currently losing to Peyton Hillis in the Madden cover vote, so he might want to use his Twitter influence to get some more votes.
Although Stewart Cink was the golfer who originally pushed Twitter, it's 21-year-old Rory McIlroy leading the golfers. Tiger Woods' sphere of influence doesn't seem to have been affected by his scandal and his lack of winning.
Connections to the Kardashians certainly seem to help. Lamar Odom is married to Khloe Kardashian and Reggie Bush was once with Kim Kardashian. NBA players have done some great work on Twitter — as Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are all on this list.
Floyd Mayweather's twitter feed is intriguing because he posts huge winning bets he made. He never posts losses. Not a single Major League Baseball player is on this list — the top one would have been the Yankees Nick Swisher with a Klout score of 76. Serena Williams is the only woman athlete on the list.
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