Danica Patrick, Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin among sports’ most-overhyped athletes

It’s Masters week, and we can’t read enough about Tiger Woods. Will his recent resurgence satisfy his quest for a 15th major championship? Will he be able to fend off charges from rising stars like Rory McIlroy and old rivals like Phil Mickelson? Will he finally exhibit the consistent yet explosive game under new coach Sean Foley that had been his indelible trademark for years?

Why are we fascinated with Woods? Those with short attention spans will bring up the domestic chaos that erupted in November 2009. For sure, the ensuing controversies over his marital infidelities, loss of sponsorships and divorce from one-time model Elin Nordegren made for great storylines. But Woods’ magnetism transcends those sideshows. At its heart is his long record of achievement: 14 major championships, 10 PGA Tour Player of the Year awards, nine money titles and eight Vardon Trophies. This speaks to one thing: his surpassing talent. And that’s truly why we watch, to believe that in some small way we’re sharing in the legacy of a legend.

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Slideshow: Athletes who get more attention than they deserve

Many other athletes are suffused in publicity, buildup and hype yet have little or nothing to show on the results ledger. Hard to say when this trend began, but a reasonable guess would be with Anna Kournikova. The Russian bombshell was a very good tennis player, reaching the Wimbledon semifinals once and topping out at No. 8 in the world. But she never won anything and was best known for, uh, other attributes.

Remember Michelle Wie? She was the hottest golfer – well, the most-hyped golfer – not named Tiger for the better part of a decade. She was a teen prodigy with ambitions of becoming the first girl/woman to play in the Masters. But a funny thing happened on her way to Augusta: She never learned how to win golf tournaments. Wie’s won a grand total of two LPGA events while in the process becoming more of a sideshow than the main attraction since she last collected a trophy two years ago.

It might be harsh to call a 22-year-old a has-been, but that sadly might be the case. And there are other bona fide has-beens still occupying too much of our time. Manny Ramirez and Chad Ochocinco might’ve been supremely impressive in their prime, but their sell-by date as superstars surely has expired.

Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both make the list of overhyped athletes.

How about some other most overhyped athletes? Just guessing that the most important part of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s name is Jr. We sure hear a lot about a certain NFL quarterback who has yet to nail down a starting job. Danica Patrick apparently dominated IndyCar racing so much that it was no longer a challenge, so now she’s trying NASCAR with underwhelming success (but she sure enlivens those GoDaddy ads). And how’s that Linsanity working out?

Jocks like these have inspired us to look at the top 10 athletes who get more attention than they deserve.

The list:

Michelle Wie (golf)
Lamar Odom, Dallas Mavericks (NBA)
Manny Ramirez, Oakland A’s (MLB)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR)
Chad Ochocinco, New England Patriots (NFL)
Andy Roddick (tennis)
David Beckham, Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks (NBA)
Danica Patrick (NASCAR)
Tim Tebow, New York Jets (NFL)

Updated Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012