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Tom Jones' Two Cents: Most liked sports figures list

Forbes recently came out with a list, based on a fans' poll, of the most disliked people in sports. It included athletes such as Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Plaxico Burress and that poor sap Kris Humphries, who isn't being given credit for time served after being married to attention queen Kim Kardashian for 72 days. But what about the other side? What about the good guys, the athletes loved by Americans? Here's a list of some of the most liked people in sports:

Tim Duncan, Spurs

A couple of years ago, Forbes had Duncan among its most liked figures in sports. Those polled by Forbes considered Duncan to be "approachable," "intelligent" and "trustworthy." All those words still apply, along with "classy," "humble" and a word we take for granted: "nice." Just might be the most unassuming superstar we've ever seen.

Derek Jeter, Yankees

Even fans of the archrival Red Sox have respect for Jeter. The rest of the baseball world considers him the ultimate example of grace and class. It's amazing Jeter has spent his adult life playing the premier position (shortstop) for the most famous team in sports in the media capital of the world and has never been involved in any serious scandals, shenanigans or even sordid rumors. Maybe it's because he does things the way they're supposed to be done — on and off the field.

Roger Federer, tennis

The ideal gentleman in the sport of gentlemen. You also could include other top tennis stars such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They, too, are deservedly well-liked.

Brad Stevens, Butler basketball

First of all, the 35-year-old looks like the neighborhood kid down the street who helps you carry your groceries and offers to cut your grass because he's saving up for a used car. But here's the real deal: He's liked because he has coached little Butler University to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA title game. Liking Stevens means liking the little guy.

Phil Mickelson, golf

A thumbs-up for Phil is kind of a thumbs-down for Tiger. He's the anti-Tiger. Good family man. Friendly. Open. And, lately, a winner. Lefty also received sympathy and support after his wife overcame breast cancer.

Jeremy Lin, Knicks

Who knows how long Linsanity will last, but it's as big as Tebowmania, except with no haters. This is the perfect storm: Harvard grad, undrafted, waived, benched, playing in the D-League a month ago, now playing in New York City for a Knicks team desperate for a winner and a team that has foundered with star Carmelo Anthony. He's an underdog in every sense of the word, and he hasn't been popular long enough for the backlash.

Abby Wambach, soccer

One of the greatest American soccer players ever, this former Florida Gator was the face (and most clutch player) on the 2011 women's World Cup team. Laid-back off the pitch but ultracompetitive on it, Wambach was the 2011 Associated Press female athlete of the year. Her teammate Alex Morgan needs recognition here, too.

Eli Manning, Giants

Okay, so Packers and Patriots fans probably don't much care for Manning, but the rest of the country digs this two-time Super Bowl MVP. Eli has an "aw shucks" way about him and a persona (plus looks) more suited for a Mark Twain novel than the rugged NFL. He's Peyton's little brother, but he feels like America's little brother. (By the way, Peyton could easily make this list, too.)

tom jones' two cents

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Most liked sports figures list 02/17/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 17, 2012 9:24pm]
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